Setting Boundaries With Teens

Dear Sara,

I am at my wits end with my seventeen year old daughter. She is very headstrong and seems to think she is all grown up. She’s a junior in high school and has a part time job. She wanted a car because she needed transportation to her job and hates to ride the school bus. Her Dad and I helped her buy a car and she is supposed to make the payments and buy gas which leaves her with not much money left over. Without consulting us she decided to drive to Florida with her friends for fall break. We told her absolutely not. She was furious and won’t speak to us. She snuck out pretending to go to work and we had to go find her. We now have the keys to the car and she is grounded. Did we make a mistake by refusing to let her take this trip?

Dear Kristin,

You are the parents and you did your job. Don’t second guess yourself. Somewhere between the ages of thirteen and seventeen kids get the idea that they are an adult and are in charge of their own life even though you provide almost everything for them. Your daughter may not like you very much right now but that’s part of raising a child. She probably won’t appreciate your love and caring until she has a teen of her own.
Good luck.


  1. Susan Greene says:

    Teens should be responsible enough to purchase gas and insurance for their cars. No receipt for insurance equals no car use. As a parent of a 17 year old who has borrowed from parents for the purchase of a car, you still own this car. Sell it if conditions are not met and put her back on the school bus.

  2. Teens feel very grown up and really think they know it all. These are the years they make most of their mistakes in life. I tell them , right now you think you know it all but in time you will realize you knew nothing at all. We can’t 2nd guess life. But we hopefully learn by our mistakes

  3. Way to be great parents!! It won’t be long and she’ll be a legal adult and can make her own choices and be responsible for the outcome. Do not rescue her, make her be accountable, if she makes poor choices. That’s the only way she’s going to lean. Bless you for standing your ground with this willful young woman.

  4. My wife and I had the concept of training the child for adulthood beginning at birth.
    As a newborn they where to be 100% dependent upon us. At 18 year old they were to be 100% dependent upon God. It was our discipline to gradually guide them into trusting and depending upon God for guidance by their 18th birthday.

  5. BonLovesFreedom says:

    I agree with your decision to prevent her driving to Florida with her friends. (You many even have saved her life.) She is not responsible enough to take a trip like that at 17. Wonder where they were going to stay for an entire week – Florida can be expensive – and what they were going to eat, as well!
    Kudos to you for guiding your daughter toward making better choices.

  6. You were right to stand your ground. At seventeen, she is not equipped to travel unchaperoned to Florida with friends. She is not legally an adult, so it is not even an option for her to make such a trip. There are too many dangers involved. If the car is not in her name, you really can’t lose this argument. Kids need limits, though they don’t know it.

    She will hate you for being so “mean,” but she will be safe. Hold on to those keys! Someday she will know you were right.

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