Often times as parents, we try so hard at doing our best in raising teens that we sometimes overlook some essential areas that are critical in building healthy and enduring relationships. Below are some suggestions that would be beneficial for parents to remember as they are going through the phase of raising teenagers. It is not so much “what” we do as parents that are important, rather it is “how” we parent that matters the most.
Love your Teen
In order to have a thriving relationship with your teen, it is imperative to not only tell them, “I love you,” but to show them that you love them as well. Some good ideas, can include leaving them a handwritten note; taking your teen on a “parent-date;” involving them in family planning; inviting your teen to have a friend over for dinner, or any other worthwhile family activity, and genuinely listen to your teen as they talk with you.
Talk with Your Teen About Risks
Having discussions with your teens around topics of sex, drugs, and pornography can seem overwhelming and even uncomfortable. However, being closed-off with these topics with your teens can be very detrimental. The more that you teach your child about these sensitive subjects, the better prepared they will be when they are confronted by peers.
Research has shown that teens that have frequent discussions on the risks of drugs and alcohol use are 50% less likely to use these toxic substances. Furthermore, having open discussions about drugs, sex and pornography will promote trust and break down communication barriers which will make it more likely that your teen will talk with you about problems or concerns.
Choose Your Battles Wisely With Your Teen
Continually focusing on the negative with your teen is hazardous and toxic. It is important that we are realistic as parents and understand that in order for our teens to grow, they have to make some mistakes. Focus on the good of your teen and redirect or have further discussions of concern with your teen when it really matters.
Provide Teens the Space to Make Decisions on Their Own
Teens mature in a healthy manner when given the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. As parents, we need to recognize instances which would be considered as times we really need to confront our teens with discussions of concern and when to back-off to allow them to come to us or to figure it out on their own. It truly is a balancing act that we as parents have to go through in order to provide the optimal environment for our teens to grow emotionally.
Be Able to Identify Teen Warning Signs of Drug Use or Other Risky Behaviors
Being an effective parent requires us to be an active participant in monitoring and supporting teenager life. Some of the signs to look for in your teen that would indicate that they may be experimenting with drug or alcohol use are as follows: a change in academic performance, significant weight gain or loss, diminished interest in activities that were once enjoyed and a drastic change in appearance to name a few.
Set Realistic Expectations For Your Teen
As parents, we want the best for our kids. It is our job to set them up for success by realizing that they will not always perform to our expectations. Just like adults, teens have bad days or moments. Realize this, and do not apply too much pressure to your teen as they may look for an unhealthy outlet as an “out” to their perceived notion of not being able to meet “unrealistic expectations. “