Relationships > Families > How to Become an Independent Teenager

How to Become an Independent Teenager

Here’s a list of ways to stop your parents from being overprotective so you can become more independent. I wrote this for a teenager who asked for help with her mother.

“I am 14 years old and my mother in particular is very controlling,” says Michelle on How to Cope With Controlling Parents When You Live at Home. “I have to live with her, and she constantly berates me mentally and sometimes physically. She barely lets me see friends outside of school and the few times that she does she has to know every exact detail. Your article How to Cope With Controlling Parents is for adults but I was wondering if you could write some steps for people who are adolescents? I really need help with my situation I just don’t know what to do or how to change my life.”

I think the best way to stop your mom from being so overprotective and controlling is to start showing her that you are mature and independent.

How to Become an Independent Teenager

Here’s a great tip from the creators of

“The more your parents think you are able to take care of yourself in a mature, responsible fashion, the more likely they will be to allow you your freedom. Keeping your parents informed about what is going on in your life can help to ease some of their fears. Simple things, like calling your parents to let them know where you are, can go a long way toward building trust. If you do something to lose their trust, the situation can become more difficult.”

The more open you are with your parents, the more likely they’ll trust you (as long as you’re not doing things that are dangerous, illegal, unhealthy, or immoral!).

Below are a few more ways to build trust and independence as a teenager. These tips are from a paper I’m writing for one of my social work classes about transitioning teenagers to adulthood. If you want your parents to trust you – if you want to become an independent teenager – then you need to start thinking about ways to be an adult! Discuss these ideas with your parents. Talk and listen to them as if you were an adult.

Finances and Money Management

Financial responsibility, paying rent and bills on time, saving money to get what I need and want. Short-term goals: research financial options and benefits for young adults, save money to live on your own or buy whatever you want, get a savings or checking account, create a monthly budget. Long-term goals: take a money management course through the public library and get a credit card.

If you don’t have any money to manage, read 36 Ways for Teens to Earn Extra Money.

Employment and Education

Figure out what you want to be when you’re an adult. Short-term goals: Get a part-time job, research scholarships if you want to go to university, get your high school records after graduation, create a calendar for deadlines. Long-term goals: Get college applications, talk to people who are working in your industry.


Live in own apartment or with a roommate. Short-term goals: Have somewhere to live on 19th birthday, decide if roommate is a good idea, research housing options, calculate costs of different options, find a place close to work, think about moving process. Long-term goals: Get a rental application, learn what is required for first-time renters, research household bills and expenses, live on your own as an independent teenager.


Get a car. Short-term goals: Figure out how to get between work and home, apply for driver’s license, research how much a bus pass costs. Long-term goals: Save $4,000 to buy a car, research Craig’s List to see how much different ones cost, look into car insurance, practice reading a map.

Self-Care and Health

Be physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy. Short-term goals: Figure out what physical, emotional, and spiritual health means to me, learn about MSP, research free programs for people with low income, think about counseling or art therapy. Long-term goals: Get a doctor, think about vision and dental care.

Are you emotionally healthy? If you feel sad a lot, read Help for Depressed Teenagers.

Life skills

How to Become an Independent TeenagerBe able to function like an independent adult, get my parents to trust me and stop being overprotective. Short-term goals: Learn about grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning. Long-term goals: learn effective ways to communicate and stand up for myself.


Get all my documents and ID cards (or at least know where they are! Part of being an independent teenager is knowing where your identification is). Short-term goals: Get social insurance card, birth certificate, BC photo id, create a filing system. Long-term goals: Have all my identification in a safe place and leave photocopies with someone I trust.

Here’s another great tip for teens from “No parent is perfect. But, in most cases, parents love you and care about you in a way that no one else in the world does, even when this isn’t always clear. Relationships with parents at any age can be difficult and complicated.”

I know 65 year old women who still have difficult relationships with their parents! Parent-child relationships can be complex and emotional, and there aren’t any easy steps to becoming independent or stopping your parents from being overprotective when you’re a teen. But, you can take steps to be as mature and healthy as possible. This will help your parents see you as an independent teenager, which may encourage them to give you more freedom.

What do you think? Big and little comments welcome below :-) I can’t give advice, but sometimes it helps to vent.

If you’re looking for work, read How to Write a Strong Cover Letter and Get That Job.


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3 thoughts on “How to Become an Independent Teenager”

  1. Thanks for your comments. I was on my own at age 16, living in my own apartment. I dropped out of high school, and was working as a waitress at Smitty’s restaurant in Edmonton. It was a very exciting time of my life :-)

    I went back to school, got 2 university degrees, and am working on a graduate degree in social work. I always tell people that teens who are independent can go really far in life!

  2. as a parent to a 16 year old – i would say that while they want to be independent sometimes they still need a little push to convert the what they want into a whet I actually need to do to make it actually happen

  3. the teen years are a transitional time from childhood to adulthood… everyone needs guidance during this critical time!