How do teens deal with overprotective parents?

First, teens should realize that overprotective parents -- while difficult to manage -- are operating from a place of love. That doesn't mean teens with overprotective parents shouldn't try to get their folks to loosen the apron strings a bit, just that they should keep in mind that their parents do have good intentions.

Parents are overprotective because they either don't trust their teen or don't trust the world (or quite often, don't trust either). So the best first steps teens can take are to both follow the rules their parents have set (even if they do feel a bit smothering), but also to talk to their parents about the overbearing rules. A good place for a teen to start this conversation is to thanks parents for caring about his/her welfare, but then to let them know, with specificity, what rules are burdensome and why he/she is actually able to handle the situation the rule addresses (e.g. not smoking or drinking). Then, the teen needs to listen to what his/her parents say. This is important because it will help him/her figure out where the real source of distrust is.


If parents are distrustful of their teen and his/her ability to make good choices, then the best approach is to show parents good behavior. This includes following the rules, discussing some mistakes that other teens have made and explaining how he/she would have handled the situation better, and pointing out potential risks so parents can see their teen is aware of his/her surroundings. In this way, teens can build trust with their parents and make a good case for getting slow, incremental changes in the rules that give the teen more freedom.

If parents are just distrustful of the world, these conversations and parents' willingness to let loose on the rules may be more difficult. The process is the same, but it may go more slowly. If parents refuse to budge, then it might be helpful to bring in another trusted adult to help with the conversation.