Our rangatahi are wired to pushback against us. 

It’s a biological function of adolescence that … just happens. Nature, being so clever, has designed it this way. 

When our young people are pushiing back against the familiar, against the people they feel safest with, it’s not personal! Even when they say and do things that feel personal to us, the pushback is them: 

  • Sharpening their opinions
  • Learning how to stand up for themselves
  • Figuring out their values
  • Becoming their own person 

It feels like a barb, like they’re out to get us. The reality is, they’re growing themselves.

It’s our job to guide them to grow with love and kindness, not mistrust and resentment.

When they push us, take a deep breath. Omit the personal and instead focus on what it is they’re trying to get to that is so damm important. 

Distraction is a number one tactic – don’t let them side track you from the real issues.

Our boundaries are being tested!

A fire has a backdraft. It happens when a door is opened and more oxygen is available as fuel.

Parental boundaries get a backdraft in a similar manner. It happens when our rangatahi are exposed to options they’ve never had before. As they grow, more doors open. 

And now they have choices. And they push back on the walls of their familiar restrictions. 

Their minds have been opened to possibilities far beyond the family home. The uniqueness and novelty of these possibilities make them appealing. 

If you don’t like them, it makes them even more appealing.

And so the stage is set. 

You have a rangatahi who is in victim mentality, saying:

  • “It’s not fair.”
  • “Everyone else is allowed.”
  • “You never let me do anything.”

They’re begging you to buy into the drama.

They want you to question your decision. To support them in their choices. To agree. To say, “Okay.” When you know it’s not okay. 

They want you to engage in the drama triangle in the role of persecutor, blaming their friends, or passing judgments. To say things back to them like:

  • “Just do as you’re told.”
  • “You are behaving like a diva.”
  • “I don’t care that all your friends are going.”


Being in the role of rescuer. Saying something that sounds like:

  • “OK, that will be alright. It won’t really matter that you leave the house dressed like that.” 
  • “Hey, don’t worry about it. I know you won’t do anything silly.”


You are their parent. It is your choice. And it is ok to hold your boundaries. 

You can say things like,

  • “We’ve agreed parties and alcohol are up for discussion when you’re 16.”
  • “I don’t know those parents. I’d like to talk to them first before I make a decision.”
  • “This doesn’t sit well with me. Let’s talk about it.”

Hold your boundaries firmly. With love. With transparency. With compassion. 

You don’t need to engage in their dramas. 

You just get to be consistent. 

Especially when they test it. They will push back. 

So stay open. Be approachable. Keep talking. 

As you hold those boundaries. Keeping your rangatahi safe is an important piece of parenting. 

If you’d like to find out more about the Karpman Drama Triangle and the Roadblocks to Communication that are at play within your communication with your rangatahi, consider signing up for the 4 week group coaching course, Teen Talk. 

And change the way you communicate with your rangatahi.