My Teen Wants More and More Freedom!

freedom-and-responsibilityTeens are desperate to grow up and be allowed to do adult things. They often feel they deserve certain privileges or freedoms just because of their age or their grade or heck, even sometimes just because everyone else does it.  They want to drive at 16. They want to drink alcohol at age 18. They want to go to that concert. They want no curfew.  The list can go on and on. Your teen might have their very own list of freedoms they feel they are “ready for”. But how do you determine if they are really ready? How can you help them understand that they can’t just be handed freedoms? Maybe they have been handed too much already and they really have no clue why you are telling them “no”.

This simple chart will help your teen understand the other part of growing up. It will help keep you both focused on how you will each know your teen is ready for more freedom. This chart will help you balance giving your teen too much freedom before they are ready to handle it. It will help you check your teen’s readiness to become an adult.

Being an adult is fun. It comes with many freedoms. We can hop in the car anytime we want. No one is checking our phone data usage and telling us to cut back. No one is telling us what time to go to bed or when we have to leave the house in the morning. Being an adult rocks!!

However, being an adult is boring and annoying and tedious sometimes too. No one comes in to clean our room. No one does our laundry for us. No one cooks dinner and cleans up the kitchen. No one goes to the grocery store for us or plans us an amazing vacation, or fills the gas tank up, or restocks the toilet paper. All of the jobs are the responsibility side of being an adult. Yep, we can choose when to do laundry but we have to do it. We can eat whatever we want, but we have to plan it, buy it, cook it, AND clean it up!

Teens need to see the direct connection.

If they can handle the responsibility side of the chart they can EARN a freedom item from the other side of the chart. Period. One freedom earned for one responsibility mastered. Bigger freedoms come when bigger responsibilities are taken over. Freedoms are taken away when responsibilities are nonexistent or slipping.

Freedoms – Responsibilities Chart


Freedoms Responsibilities
Drive the family car Fill the car with gas, take the car in for oil change as needed, pay own auto insurance (start with one and add as they get older or begin to drive more)
Have friends sleep over Clean the house and bathroom to family standard
Owning a smart phone rather than a lame flip phone Pay for the phone and data plan every month!
Keep room in whatever state of disarray they like Do own laundry. From start to finish.
Eat whenever, (whatever, wherever) Cook a family meal once a week regularly. At least one night a week plan, cook and clean up.
Stay out past curfew for special event Consistently prove that they meet all expectations they next day. i.e.: go to work on time next day, are awake and ready to do the above items as agreed
Fill in the item your teen thinks he’s ready for Ask yourself, “what are the adult responsibilities they would need to meet if they were living on their own”. Find a connection to the “boring” part of being an adult.


It is not always easy to find the direct connection within the chart. And every teen needs a custom chart. Your teen’s freedoms are different than the neighbors. Your family’s idea of responsibility may differ from your friends.  But the idea is that there are great parts of being an adult and teens are almost always ready to push those and have those and enjoy those. But often times they take those freedoms without having had any responsibility. So many teens have cars but no jobs. So many teens have high end clothing but have no idea how to wash a load of clothes. So many teens have nicer phones than their parents but don’t even know what the monthly bill is. It is a disservice to allow your teen to grow up not understanding the connection. They will live their adult life feeling unhappy and unsatisfied if they never learn the connection. They will ruin expensive high end clothes if they do not learn how to care for them, they will never have a nicer phone than the one they have if they do not understand cell phone plans, contracts, and costs.

Teens want freedoms. Teens need responsibilities. Your job is to link the two and teach them how to grow up enjoying all of the freedoms while still meeting all of the responsibilities! If your teen sees and understands the connection between freedoms and responsibilities they will have a lifetime of balance between work and play!



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