Ep 288: The Balance of Power in Parent-Teen Relationships

Tiziana Casciaro, author of Power For All, joins us to explore the intricate power dynamics between parents and their teenage children, shedding light on effective strategies for sharing power, preventing power abuse, and empowering teens to make constructive choices in their lives and communities.

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Full Show Notes

Raising teenagers presents a unique challenge in the realm of power dynamics. As children enter their teenage years, the once clear-cut power balance between parent and child begins to shift. Teens seek more independence, making decisions that parents may not always agree with, and sometimes even rebelling against parental authority. This shift can lead to frustration, misunderstandings, and power struggles within the family.

This week on Talking to Teens, we dive deep into the world of power dynamics between parents and teenagers with Tiziana Casciaro, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Toronto and co-author of the insightful book *Power For All*. Her extensive research and work provide a profound understanding of how power functions and can be used positively within relationships, making her the perfect guide for parents navigating these turbulent waters.

The Essence of Power in Parent-Teen Relationships

Tiziana breaks down power as simply the ability to influence others' behavior and explains how this concept applies universally—from the teen wishing to gain more freedom to the parent hoping to guide their child towards certain behaviors. Power dynamics within the family evolve as teens grow, seeking validation and influence beyond their parents, which can dilute the parents' direct influence over them.

Empowering Versus Controlling

One key to maintaining a healthy relationship with your teenager is understanding the difference between exercising power over them and empowering them to make their own decisions. Tiziana discusses how sharing power and responsibility with teens can lead to mutual respect and better decision-making. By recognizing and validating their growing need for independence and control over their own lives, parents can foster a relationship based on trust and shared goals rather than on authority and rebellion.

The Impact of Power on Relationships and Identity

Tiziana illuminates how power can change people, often leading to overconfidence or inattentiveness to others' needs and desires. This phenomenon applies to both parents and teens as they navigate their changing relationship. Parents must balance their authoritative role with their child's growing need for autonomy, while teens must manage their newfound power without completely rejecting parental guidance.

Educating Teens on the Use and Abuse of Power

An essential part of parenting is teaching teens about the implications of power in wider societal contexts, including the importance of democracy, collective action, and moral responsibility. Encouraging teens to critically evaluate the leaders and influencers they choose to follow can empower them to contribute positively to society.

Strategies for Positive Power Dynamics

The episode concludes with practical advice for parents on fostering positive and productive power dynamics within their family. By understanding what their teens value and strive for, parents can position themselves as allies in their teenagers' pursuit of happiness, security, and self-esteem.

Additional Topics Covered:

- Identifying and supplying what teenagers value as a strategy for shared power.
- The role of democracy and collective action in teaching teens about power.
- The dangers of unchecked power and the importance of accountability.
- Encouraging teens to voice their opinions constructively, even in disagreement.
- Real-life examples of power dynamics reshaping family relationships for the better.

Listening to this episode will provide parents, educators, and anyone involved in a teenager's life with a deeper understanding of how to navigate and negotiate power dynamics for healthier relationships and positive development. Don't miss this insightful discussion on empowering our teens and ourselves.

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
Tiziana Casciaro
Tiziana Casciaro
Tiziana Casciaro is a Professor of Organizational Behavior and the Marcel Desautels in Integrative Thinking at the Rotman School of Management of the University of Toronto. Her research on organizational networks, professional networking, power dynamics, and change leadership has appeared in top academic journals in management, psychology, and sociology, and has received scientific achievement awards from the Academy of Management. Thinkers50 has recognized Tiziana as one of the thirty thinkers most likely to shape the future of how organizations are managed and led, and her research has been featured in the Economist, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, CBC, Fortune and TIME magazine. Most recently, she has co-authored the book Power, for All: How it Really Works and Why It Is Everyone’s Business (Simon & Schuster, 2021). Originally from Italy, Tiziana received her B.A. in Business Administration from Bocconi University in Milan, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Organization Science and Sociology from Carnegie Mellon University. Before joining the University of Toronto, she served on the faculty of the Harvard Business School.
Ep 288: The Balance of Power in Parent-Teen Relationships
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