Parents: Learn how to navigate the four freedoms of adolescence

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There’s a reason the road through adolescence is rocky — it’s supposed to be. Children must pass through “four unfolding freedoms” in order to become competent, independent and confident adults, according to psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Carl Pickhardt.

“When parents choose to have a child, they have agreed to have an adolescent,” Dr. Pickhardt says. “So effective parenting partly depends on being able to anticipate common teenage changes.”

In his new book, Holding On While Letting Go: Parenting Your Child Through the Four Freedoms of Adolescence, Dr. Pickhardt shares these four unfolding freedoms and helps parents navigate these challenging times.

The four unfolding freedoms include:

  1. Freedom from rejection of childhood, around the late elementary school years, when they want to stop acting and being treated as children.
  2. Freedom of association with peers, around the middle school years, when they want to form a second family of friends.
  3. Freedom for older experimentation, around the high school years, when they want to try more grown-up activities.
  4. Freedom to claim emancipation, around the college age years, when they decide to become their own ruling authority.

“Counseling with many families over many years, I believe there is a continuing need for parents to be informed about common changes that adolescence brings for the teenager and for themselves,” said Dr. Pickhardt. “I hope this book serves that purpose.”

Dr. Pickhardt’s message is clear: with each successive push for freedom, both parents and teens need to learn how to do less holding on to each other while doing more letting go. Readers will learn the way with compassion, experience and time-tested guidance.

Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., is a noted psychologist, speaker and parenting expert, now retired from private counseling practice. He received his B.A. and M.Ed. from Harvard, and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. He is a member of the American and Texas Psychological Associations. He writes a popular parenting advice column for Psychology Today and has written some of the most practical and helpful books about important parenting issues, including: The Connected Father, Stop the Screaming, The Future of Your Only Child and Why Good Kids Act Cruel. A prolific author, he continues to write three distinct kinds of books: illustrated psychology, coming of age fiction and nonfiction parenting advice. Holding On While Letting Go is his 17th parenting book. For a complete list of his books, see his website:

By Lindsey Mach