Ask any parent with a teenage son or daughter, and they will tell you how difficult it is raising a teen, and seeing him or her through to the next level. Many parents find this time to be the most challenging in their whole parenting course, with the challenges that the age comes with seemingly overwhelming. These challenges need nothing more than taking time and responding rather positively.
You give your 16-year-old daughter a good-night kiss and her clothes absolutely reek of pot.
Forget the lecture. Instead, send her to bed with a promise that you’ll discuss this tomorrow. Then, says Sachs, “engage her curiosity about her behavior — why she does it, what she sees as the benefits and the risks.” She needs to know that exposure to drugs and alcohol during adolescence is dangerous.
You borrow your son’s computer and notice that the browser’s log of “recent places” includes several porn sites.
As soon as possible, make a time when the two of you can talk, a time when neither of you is rushed nor overtired. Then tell him what you’ve discovered and say, “Your curiosity is perfectly natural, but this isn’t the best place to satisfy it. Porn shows you a very distorted picture of sexuality and intimacy, and it’s degrading to women.”
Your son, a junior in high school, tells you that he has no intention of going to college.
First, bite your tongue. This may not be as disastrous as it seems. Second, calm down and try to determine whether he really doesn’t want to go to college or is just having a tough time facing this terrifying life transition.
Parenting teens may be a difficult task, but parents sometimes do play a role in making things even more complicated. There are a number of issues that parents overlook, others that they overreact towards and pre calculating wrongly. These are simple mistakes which can really mess you up in bringing up your teenage son or daughter.
Expecting the Worst
Teenagers get a bad rap, says Richard Lerner, PhD, director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University. Many parents approach raising teenagers as an ordeal, believing they can only watch helplessly as their lovable children transform into unpredictable monsters. It could become a self-fulfilling prophecy: Negative expectations can actually promote the behavior you fear most. A Wake Forest University study showed that tee ns whose parents expected them to get involved in risky behaviors reported higher levels of these behaviors one year later.
Sweating the Small Stuff
Maybe you don’t like your tween daughter’s haircut or choice of clothes. Or perhaps she didn’t get the part in the play you know she deserves. But before you step in, look at the big picture. If it’s not putting your child at risk, give her the leeway to make age-appropriate decisions and learn from the consequences of her choices.
Ignoring the Big Stuff
If you suspect your child is using alcohol or drugs, do not look the other way. Even if it’s “just” alcohol or marijuana — or even if it reminds you of your own youth — you must take action now, before it becomes a bigger problem.
Teens can easily develop feelings of low self-esteem due psychological and other changes they go through as they grow up. Such simple changes and challenges may seem overwhelming to teenagers, and pose a threat of making them lose self-appreciation. Decision making, communicating effectively and praising them regularly can help keep your teen’s self-esteem optimal, if not high.
Encourage Decision-Making and Opinions
Teens want to be treated like grown-ups, so give them some opportunities to join you in the adult world when at all possible, and take the time to hear them out when they do have suggestions or concerns that involve the family or your home. You might be surprised at some of their great ideas!
Stay Connected With All Forms of Communication
Teenagers like to be self-sufficient and want us to believe that they have everything under control—but that doesn’t mean that as parents we needn’t keep the lines of communication open and flowing. So when you ask questions, try to formulate them so that they require more than a yes or no answer. For instance, instead of asking how math is going, ask what they are currently studying in geometry.
Be Generous With Praise
Too often we focus on what our kids haven’t done or haven’t done right. Tune in to the positive things your teen has accomplished and offer specific praise. If your daughter has a talent for assembling things that are difficult for most of us, tell her how much you admire that ability and how it helps make your life easier around the house.