Timeless Teenage Turmoils: finding out that parents are people too

When we’re kids, we may think our parents can’t do any wrong or behave immorally  because we trust and adore them. As we age, however, finding out that parents are people too can create an internal struggle that is difficult at first but holds an important lesson.

At a young age, some of us may think our parents are heroes. They take care of us, nurture us, provide us with important knowledge and protect us from harm. This can lead to us thinking that our parents are the greatest people we know.

“I think to a point kids think their parents are perfect,” counselor Brian Linhart said. “Think about how much time a kid spends with their parent growing up, that’s your mold or image of perfection.”

Growing up is when this mindset can be questioned by a greater awareness of mistakes that start off as little. These issues can include instances such as a parent being late or not showing up to an important event or a regretted spurt of anger made by the parent. Parents apologize and express their errors, leading to the kids also knowing what is right and wrong.

Healthy children learn to trust their inner sense of right and wrong at a young age because their parents encourage this,” school psychologist Kate Roberts told Psychology Today. “This teaches the child that he is a reliable source of accurate information and a capable resource for the truth.”

Adolescence brings new challenges as this moral compass starts to develop more. Some teens develop strong views of their own that might contradict what their parents think. Whether it be political, religious or economical, this can create a strain on the teen’s image of perfection for their parents.

“When parents tell a child that what they know to be true, in fact is not, they cause their child to choose between trusting themselves and trusting their parents,” Roberts told Psychology Today. “This is not a choice a child can make and remain intact and healthy.”

This process isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Realizing a parent isn’t perfect can sometimes mean a teen is coming to terms with their own views and opinions. Trying to change a parent isn’t a healthy way to deal with this strain, but rather opening up new dialogue and conversations can help the relationship grow as the child grows up too.

The process of finding out parents make mistakes can strenuous and tough, but a new moral can come out that both parent and teen can agree with: nobody is perfect. Not everyone is going to agree on the same ideals, but everyone can understand that perfection is an unrealistic expectation.

“Imperfections make us unique and beautiful,” Linhart said. “[A positive consequence is] realizing that imperfection is okay. Perfection is something you strive for but is rarely achieved.”