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What to Do When You Have 
Overprotective Parents

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What to Do When You Have 
Overprotective Parents

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When I was really young, in the early 1990s, a young rapper named Will Smith had a hit song on the radio called “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Slightly changed, it became the theme song of the television show where he got his break as an actor, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Apparently, the overprotective parents portrayed in his song struck a chord with many people. More than 20 years later, the song and what it talks about are still relevant to many teens.

Let’s look into this subject.

Learning to Fly

Some parents may seem to their teen to be overprotective because they feel responsible for what happens to their teen and fear he or she will get into trouble. This is normal for parents and understandable. Parents love their children so they want to protect them. Parents are concerned about their teen’s friends and the kind of activities that will be taking place. It may also appear that some parents never allow their teen to “test their wings” by allowing them to venture out as they grow up.

Teens, as you approach adulthood, you naturally want to be respected as adults and enjoy increasing freedom as you face adult responsibilities. Why not have a talk with your parents to express this to them? They care for you deeply and desire to work with you as you go through your important young adult years. Respectful communication is the key for all concerned.

The dynamics between parents who want to hold on, and teens who want them to let go, create challenges that can last well into adulthood. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Respect: everybody deserves it

Here is a basic reminder to teens from the apostle Paul about the relationship between parents and children: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth. And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).

What did we just read? Both parents and their children, including teens, have mutual responsibilities to each other based on respect for each other. This is the heart of the problem between what could be perceived as overprotective parents and overprotected teens!

Parents have the responsibility to raise godly children, who grow to maturity and show obedience to God. They must not provoke or frustrate those children, or try to hold on for too long or too tightly.

Teens need to grow up with respect for their parents because all of us, no matter our age, are children of our Heavenly Father and never grow out of respecting and honoring Him. When someone shows respect to his or her parent, this shows respect to God.

Parents often do not feel respected and honored. They often feel their children are putting themselves in danger and do not know the consequences of their behavior.

Teens, on the other hand, can feel stifled by their parents and do not feel that they are treated with the respect due someone approaching adulthood.

When there is a lack of respectful, open communication and trust, it’s easy for a relationship to turn sour and cause hurt and resentment over what others have said or done.

Disrespected parents may respond by limiting the freedoms and privileges given to their children, and disrespected teens may do exactly what their anxious parents most fear. Then both are hurt and disappointed by it.


  • Respect and honor your parents. Recognize they are looking out for you and your well-being.
  • Do your part to build open communication and trust. Speak openly and honestly to your parents about your concerns and wishes.
  • Show yourself worthy of respect and freedom in ways that are appropriate with your good character and growing maturity.
  • Be involved in the Church family, and your parents will appreciate this growth that they see in you. Then they can feel confident in gradually and safely letting go.

Having what can be perceived as overprotective parents is not a new problem for teens. Both teens and parents want respectful and trusting relationships with each other.

By focusing on our common goals to follow God and get along, we can relate to each other better. Open, honest and kind communication is something we will always need with the people we deal with in life.