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Teens, Parents, and Entertainment: The Divide

by Jane Wangersky | March 20th, 2023 | Entertainment, Teens

girl watching tv (400x400)Entertainment can bring a family a little closer together or drive them a fair way further apart. As kids grow into teens, parents will probably notice less togetherness and more apartness, in this as in lots of other things. The cause is simple: Teens want independence and a separate identity. One way to be sure they’re not exactly like their parents is to dislike what Mom and Dad like, and like what they don’t. Yes, that’s overkill, and it creates lots of problems, but it happens in almost every family. What do you do when it hits yours? I have some suggestions for parents and teens (if any are reading).


  • You may miss the days when you and your child enjoyed TV, books, and movies together, but you probably don’t talk about them in front of your teen’s friends. Well, take a break from bringing up these subjects to them at all. It’s only for a few years — really.
  • You may also want to ignore what your teen is watching/reading/listening to these days, but that makes it hard to set limits — which you should be doing.
  • If you object to some of your teen’s entertainment, don’t just tell them there’s too much sex/violence/smoking or whatever. Point out some of the other problems with the “work of art” — and it will have some, like unrealistic characters or a stupid plot.


  • If your parents do start reminiscing about you watching Teletubbies or whatever, don’t pretend you don’t remember. They know it was important to you once, and if they think you’ve forgotten a lot of your childhood, they may drag you to a doctor.
  • Choose entertainment because it entertains you, not because it drives your parents crazy. If what’s really fun for you is disturbing to them, that’s a separate issue.
  • If you can stand it at all, watch a show or movie with your parents, or read a book one of them has read. It’ll give you something to talk about that isn’t family centered and is less likely to raise tension. You may also discover things you have in common, find a new interest, and get a chance to bring up sensitive issues more gently.

To all of you — someday you’ll all be adults, talking like adults about movies, books, TV and all the rest of the entertainment that’s out there, so you can all look forward to that.

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