Why Do Teens Often Feel Resentful Toward Their Parents?
As a teenager, it’s normal to feel irritated, annoyed, angry, or even resentful towards your parents. They can be overprotective, and suspicious and may not understand that you’re not a little kid anymore. However, if you feel like your emotions are a bit too intense, let’s discuss why that might be.
Teenagers are in a paradoxical situation
You’re too old to be treated like a child but too young to be given the freedom and responsibilities of an adult. This paradox happens because the emotional center of your brain (the limbic system) has developed enough to produce intense emotions that are adult-like. However, the most advanced part of your brain, the frontal lobe, responsible for impulse control and executive functioning, is not fully developed until you’re in your mid-20s. So, you have adult-level emotions without enough brain development to manage them appropriately.
Parents challenge your maturity and independence when you’re trying to develop them
As teenagers, you’re supposed to be developing your own identity, thoughts, opinions, and feelings. When parents limit your independence, you might feel cornered, like a trapped animal. When you add in the fact that you’re experiencing adult-level anger, but lack some of the skills to keep it in perspective, it’s easy to understand why you might lash out.
Parents often don’t understand what it’s like to be a teenager today
They may be out of touch with new technologies and social media, causing them to be overly protective and suspicious. They may worry about your safety and well-being, but their actions might feel overbearing and controlling to you.
Parents’ idea of punishment may seem overly harsh
It’s important to remember that consequences should be time-limited, fitting the broken rule, and making an impact. However, if the consequences seem unfair or unreasonable, you should calmly approach your parents and discuss your feelings rather than allowing resentment to fester.
How can teens manage feelings of anger towards their parents?
- Talk calmly to them: Wait until you feel calm and then ask for a time to talk. Let them know that you understand their perspective and the problems, but you don’t want to feel angry towards them. Be willing to hear them out.
- Write a respectful and calm letter or email: Sometimes writing things out can help you organize your thoughts and feelings. It can also be an initial contact if you feel a conversation might devolve into a fight. Ensure you’re not using passive-aggressive language or jabs, and have an adult you trust to review the letter for suggestions.
- Ask for family counseling: Sometimes a conversation or letter may not feel like enough to effectively manage the conflict. Family counseling is a helpful option where a school counselor or private practice counselor can facilitate the meetings.
- Burn off your anger and stress with self-care: Engage in activities such as exercise, meditation, massage, talking to friends or a counselor, listening to music, or creating art.
- Remember, parents love you: Parents are human too, and they will make mistakes. Great parents prioritize keeping their children safe, even if it means their children may be angry with them. Disliking the behavior is not the same as disliking the child. Effective communication can help both sides get beyond difficult times.
**Whatever you choose, it needs to be allowed within the parameters of the consequences you are facing**
It’s common for teenagers to feel resentment toward their parents. It’s important to understand that it’s a normal part of the teenage experience. With good communication and understanding, you and your parents can navigate through these challenging times.
*Updated July 13, 2023
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Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan has completed Level-2 of the Gottman Method of Couples Counseling, and in 1998 received training from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.