What are the tools available for concerned parents of teenagers?

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Answered by: Gilles, An Expert in the Parenting Troubled Teenagers Category
10 tools for concerned parents of teenagers

In a dream world, parental savvy comes along with the human instinct package. At birth, you receive a complimentary gift from Mother Nature that empowers you with all what it needs to raise kids. In reality, we are not in a so easy dream world. Throughout my career as a family therapist, I found out how so many concerned moms and dad are confused over what to do with their growing offspring. Let me tell you about some useful ready-made answers I'm used to give. But first, let's agree with one thing : the first and only tool is yourself. So, let's talk about your attitude, your how-to-be tools.



1. Be aware : Use some of the time you dedicate to worrying and get informed instead. Something very troublesome happens in the life of your teenager. The kid is changing in a pace he/she can't cope with all at once. The more you will know about these hormonal, psychological and emotional changes, the more efficient you will be. You need to know how to differentiate the real owner of the problem and find a solution that is acceptable to both. Read, browse the net, reach out! “Parent Effectiveness Training” is certainly the best starter reference book ever!

2. Be available : Concerned parents of teenagers cant think the kids don't need them anymore. At this age they secretly crave for a strong adult model. They've never been so close to adulthood. Be there. Be discrete. Give rides to parties. Give in to some requests that entail other personal activities to be cancelled. Pass along your “trade” and do things together. He/she will do the same later on in life. What's more important?



3. Be close : Listen. Even a boring story listened without judging is an act of closeness. Put your I-desagree stuff on hold and get interested to his/her world. Reflect what said and show that you follow. This is called active listening. This way, you'll get “proximity points”, which are redeemable into trust.

4. Be realistic : Whether you make a budget or not, teenagers certainly need one. They have to pay a share of everything received. Since money is the exchangeable product of work, they must be put at work, doing household chores or working elsewhere. Teenagers must learn that money doesn't grow in trees, and they need your caring help to realize this. “Can't afford it!” is still the updated realistic sentence to use.

5. Be honest : Don't cheat! A promise is a promise. Just make sure you do not raise expectations you cannot fulfill. Teenagers are very sensitive to double-bind messages. This happens when your verbal message doesn't correspond to your non-verbal. You said something, then do it, unless you made a rare mistake in which case you'll have to apologize and offer an acceptable compensation. A straight parent earns a lot of “proximity points”.

6. Be tolerant : Do you remember having been a teenager yourself? Of course your kids are worst than what you were. Or is it only the time and fashion that changed? You will never be able to stop them to imitate their pairs wearing their pants and concocting their hair the way they do. Your best bet is to make your house a comfortable and greeting place for a pack of noisy teens to gather. This way, at least, you'll know where they are and what they do. This kind of patience pays.

7. Be firm : In any democracy there are rules. You are the boss and you need a clearly exposed set of rules. Some things are totally unacceptable. Physical and verbal violence, drugs/alcohol abuse, stealing must be addressed fast and the evil done to others must be repaired. An apology is compulsory but not enough. All actions good or bad have consequences. If the teens learn it one day, it will be from you ; in jail they learn something else...

8. Be consistent : If your rules are reasonable, then be consistent. No means no! It's in the definition of teenagers to challenge boundaries. It's in their blood and if you're not vigilant or if you change your mind without a solid explained reason, then you have lost the kid's respect. I met many parents who had lost their authority and got practically disqualified because of this.

9. Be creative : Stop arguing and prepare new plans based on action. Repeating more of the same will not lead both of you anywhere. You got tuned out and your words are hovering above in the haze? It's time to move on to concrete action-reaction stuff. Kids crave for attention and if all they can get is some shouting, they will make it happen. In other words, if a kid sets fire everywhere and likes to play with matches in the bedroom, even if it's tempting, don't yell your fear/anger all over the place. Have a special campfire night prepared and enjoyed together with your emotionally needy child. Show him/her how to light soothing fires in hearts and cure him for life. Quality time heals a lot of painful problems. If the teen refuses to be with you, you need to earn some more “proximity points”.

10. Be contented : Most problems have thair roots in the early developmental phases. For certain things, it is already too late to transform bad habits, conflicting or broken relationships without expertise and a lot of healing time. But rest assured that everything you invest (and invested) into your child education, if it's genuinely done with a demonstration of good example, everything will be revisited one day after some maturation, this even by the most rebellious one. Don't give up. It's never too late for a good move. Just look forward! You're one of those concerned parents of teenagers. You're the tool, so stop worrying and invest into action!

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