Adult or Child?

The answer is neither and both. One minute they may act like a child and demand attention, and the next minute they may complain that they should be able to make all of their own rules (without you involved). Teens need to start practicing some independence since that is a developmental task of adolescence. They also need to be dependent upon a parent for support, supervision and guidance. They need the safety net that comes from having parents who are fully involved in their ongoing care and development.

Put yourself in the loop: Know your teen’s friends and their parents. Meet as many of the parents as possible. Visit the school and participate when possible, and know what is expected of your child regarding the courses they are taking. What are the requirements at the school, the type of standards, discipline and reward systems? It is OK to visit the classroom if you must, and know the people who are running your child’s school. Your teen spends more time there than at home every day. What is actually going on there? You, as a parent, pay for the school your child attends. As a taxpayer, you have a say in what happens at the school and can attend the district board meetings.

Measure behavior change: Sometimes charting behavior will help you decide if it is getting better or worse. Track how often the behavior occurs in a day, week or a month. Be certain to determine what positive behavior you want to replace it. Remember that behavior change is hard for all of us, and be sure to watch for and reward small improvements. They are the first steps to big improvements.

Am I alone? Take some time to teach yourself about normal adolescent development. Talk to a counselor or a teacher, read a book or a magazine article, watch a video or TV special, and talk with other parents of teens. Teen years are a great time of change, socially, emotionally, physically and academically. It is naturally a difficult time for both the youth and the parents. You are not alone. Sharing ideas and feelings with other parents gives support and affirmation that you are OK.

Ninety-nine percent of the parents I teach in my parenting classes say they are less stressed just knowing they aren’t alone and that they finally have other parents to talk with.

The feeling that you are doing this thing called “parenting a teen” alone can be a stressor. Keep your eye on the new and updated information, which is available on the Web site, and you will be pleasantly surprised about the available information from writers on various points of view.

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