My Teens Are Fighting Me But I’m Making Them Do More Things on Their Own

If we want to prepare our kids for the "real world," we have to push them to do more now

by Nancy Reynolds

This Post: My Teens Are Fighting Me But I’m Making Them Do More Things on Their Own

Written By: Marybeth Bock

Do you ever do things for your teenager that they’re perfectly capable of doing themselves? I know I do! In fact, I do way more than I probably should for my kids.

I mean, we’re parents. Moms, especially, have the inherent desire to protect, to make their kids’ lives a little easier, and to show love through “doing,” and “giving.” For me (and a lot of other moms I know), it’s one of the big ways I show my kids love.

And, can we all agree that (in most cases, anyway) the life of a teenager isn’t easy? They’re under crazy pressure to measure up academically, succeed in sports and other activities they’ve chosen to pursue, craft the perfect college resume, have lots of friends and have an active social life, and so on and so on.

It’s A LOT for kids today. So, it’s completely understandable that we want to ease the pressure and relieve some of their stress when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

But like everything else in life, too much of a good thing is never good. 

My Teens Are Fighting Me But I’m Making Them Do More Things on Their Own


The reality is, we’re not doing our kids any favors by making life too easy for them. Sure, we’ll always show love by caring for our kids in loving ways and being their backup plan when life gets hard, but we need to be preparing them now so they don’t go off to college or out in the real world later totally clueless (and anxious) about how to manage day-to-day life as an adult.

So, parents… even if your kids whine about it (because they will), complain (because they probably will), or even fight you tooth and nail (because they might), here are a few things you might want to start letting your kids do so they don’t end up clueless when they venture out into the world without you.

1. Laundry

It’s not rocket science. And, it doesn’t take that long to do. Even the busiest teens can toss a load of laundry in the washing machine on a Saturday morning before they dash out the door to a game or activity.

Let them learn how to separate clothes (although most kids I know throw everything in the washing machine no matter what color or fabric it is), how much detergent to use, how to get stains out, different water temps, and when to use the dryer or hang clothes to air dry. It may help to show them a YouTube video or a laundry hacks TikTok, rather than have them listen to you – we know how teens are!

2. Cooking Basic Meals and Snacks

Yep, your teen is capable of making more than ready-to-microwave mac and cheese. Start by letting them choose 3-5 recipes (full meals or snacks) they love and teach them how to prepare them. Then, let them get the hang of making those recipes and mastering a few kitchen skills and build on those recipes (1 or 2 at a time) every couple of months or so. By the time your teen ventures off to college, they’ll know how to make a ton of recipes and you’ll have the comfort of knowing they won’t starve.

BONUS: Teaching your teen how to cook means quality time in the kitchen together talking, laughing, and goofing off – we all want more of that, right?

3. Keeping Their Bedroom and Shared Spaces Clean

It doesn’t have to be perfect and we all know life gets busy, so keeping a spotless bedroom or bathroom is an unreasonable expectation.

Still, your teen needs to know how to properly make their bed, change sheets, clean a bathroom, vacuum, dust, and clean a kitchen (or, at the very least how to put dishes in the dishwasher and clean a countertop).

Don’t let your teen be that annoying roommate who doesn’t have a clue how to do any of these things. (You’d be shocked how many kids have never been taught how to do this.)

4. Making Their Own Appointments

Does your teen freak out when you ask them to make a doctor’s or dentist appointment? So many teens today are used to doing things online that they become extremely uncomfortable when they have to talk “live” with an actual human they don’t know.

Be there to coach them through it the first few times so they can lean on you if/when they get stumped by a question. Be sure to also teach them how to fill out medical history forms and deal with health insurance. They’ll thank you later!

5. Time Management

Are you constantly reminding your teen that it’s time to leave for school, time to stop playing video games to take care of chores, or time to go to bed because they need to get up early? It’s time to stop being their personal assistant (and safety net) and start letting them learn to manage their own time.

Step back and let them fail on occasion. It’s far better for them to learn now with smaller consequences than it is to learn as young adults with much bigger consequences. 

6. Basic Banking/Money Management

Don’t send your child out into the world without knowing basic money management skills. Teach them how to open a savings/checking account, how debit cards work, about the hidden (crazy high) interest rates with credit cards, how to stay out of debt, how to keep track of their credit score, online banking, and even how to write a check. Teach them how and why to save and how to track their expenses for short and long-term goals. 

7. Shopping for Groceries and Other Essentials

Does your teenager know how to pick out good produce or look for the best deal on chicken? Do they realize they can save money by choosing store-brand products versus name brands? Or that there are benefits to using a store’s shopping app to get extra savings?

Set aside time to take your teen grocery shopping so you can teach them the basics and eventually send them out to do the shopping on their own. 

8. Communication Skills & Etiquette

Does your teen know how to resolve conflict peacefully and constructively? Do they know how to advocate for themself and communicate their needs and preferences effectively? Do they know how to hold a conversation with an adult they don’t know well? And do they know (at the very least basic) manners and etiquette?

These skills can be honed through role-playing at home. Our kids also learn a lot by watching us interact with neighbors, other parents, and extended family members, so use those social situations as teachable moments. And when your teen has an issue with a teacher or a coach, let them communicate directly with them, rather than getting involved. They need to practice those skills.

9. Personal Safety Awareness

The world is a different place than when we grew up. As a parent myself, I sometimes feel as though danger lurks around every corner causing me to worry all the time about my kids. That’s why we need to teach them now about being aware of their surroundings, what to do when they feel threatened, and staying out of touchy and dangerous situations. Mostly, teaching them to trust their instincts. If something does feel right, it usually isn’t!

10. Self-Care/Stress Management Skills

Studies show that teens today are not only more stressed out than previous generations, but in many cases, they’re more stressed out than their parents. (How sad is that?)

As difficult as stress is to deal with, stress is part of life, and the sooner they learn to manage their stress and understand that it’s okay to “check out” on occasion (when reasonable and possible) to regroup, the better off they’ll be. Teach them self-care strategies and relaxation techniques, why exercise is good for their physical and mental health, and how hobbies can keep them grounded and ease stress.

There are so many other things we can teach our kids, including basic first aid, basic car maintenance, how to dress appropriately for different occasions, how to write a resume and handle themselves during an interview, and so much more. 

Chipping away at these things will not only prepare your teen for the day they walk out your front door, but will also help them foster independence and confidence. A big caveat is to not expect perfection. As long as they’re trying and learning from their mistakes, they’re growing and becoming better prepared for adulthood.

About Marybeth Bock:

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is a Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor, and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


If you enjoyed reading, “My Teens Are Fighting Me But I’m Making Them Do More Things on Their Own,” here are a few other posts you might enjoy, too!

Help Your Teen Learn to Adult: 20 Life Skills They Need

10 Important Social Skills You Need to Teach Your Teen Now

Life Skills for Teens: 21 Things They Need to Know Before They Fly the Coop

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