You may not feel like you have much influence on your child these days, but teens’ behavior is highly correlated with the strength of their bonds with their parents.
Good relationships between teenagers and their parents, as rated by both, are positively correlated with school success and general happiness as rated by the teen, and also by those around her.
By contrast, weak or conflictual parent/teen relationships are correlated with early sexual activity, experimentation with drugs and alcohol, the teen’s involvement in violence (as either perpetrator or victim), and suicide.
How do you parent this blossoming person who sometimes seems to be becoming a stranger?
1. Remember you’re a parent, AND a friend.
Teens crave the security of knowing their parents understand them, appreciate them, and love them no matter what–so they do want the relationship to be a form of friendship. But they also need to feel like they have some independence, so sometimes you may feel a bit shut out. If you can navigate your closeness in an accepting way that doesn’t take advantage of your role as parent to tell your child what to do, he’s more likely to open up and share with you.
Does a close friendship erode your teen’s respect for you? No. Don’t you respect your friends, and treasure those who are really there for you emotionally? If you offer your teen respect, consideration, and authenticity, that’s what you’ll receive in return.
And as close as you want to be to your teen, sometimes you will have to pull rank and say No. If you’re doing it often, that’s a red flag that something is wrong. But sometimes your teen will be looking to you to set limits they can’t set for themselves. Sometimes you’ll need to stick by your values and say no, whether that’s to an unsupervised party or a very late bedtime. And, of course, sometimes your teen will be able to use your guidance to come up with a win-win solution that answers your concerns.
2. Establish dependable together time.
Be sure to check in every single day. A few minutes of conversation while you’re cleaning up after dinner or right before bedtime can keep you tuned in and establish open communication. Even teens who seem to have forgotten who their parents are the other 23 hours a day often respond well to a goodnight hug and check-in chat once they’re lounging in bed. In addition to these short daily check-ins, establish a regular weekly routine for doing something special with your teen, even if it’s just going out for ice cream or a walk together.
3. Parent actively and appropriately.
Don’t invite rebellion by refusing to acknowledge that your son or daughter is growing up and needs more freedom. But don’t be afraid to ask where your kids are going, who they’ll be with and what they’ll be doing. Get to know your kids’ friends and their parents so you’re familiar with their activities.
4. Try to be there after school.
The biggest danger zone for drug use and sex isn’t Saturday night; it’s between 3 and 6 PM on weekdays. Arrange flex time at work if you can. If your child will be with friends, make sure there’s adult supervision, not just an older sibling.
5. Keep your standards high.
Your teen wants to be his or her best self. Our job as parents is to support our teens in doing that. But don’t expect your child to achieve goals you decide for her; she needs to begin charting her own goals now, with the support of a parent who adores her just as she is and believes that she can do anything she aims to. Support your teen’s passions and explorations as she finds her unique voice.
6. Make it a high priority to eat meals together
…as often as you can. Meals are a great opportunity to talk about the days’ events, to unwind, reinforce and bond. They’re also your best opportunity to keep in touch with your teen’s life and challenges, and to spot brewing problems. Finally, an important factor in kids’ happiness and overall success is whether they feel they get time to “just hang out and talk” with parents every day. Click here for more on Dinner.
7. Keep the lines of communication humming.
If you don’t know what’s going on, you lose all hope of influencing the outcome. Click here for more on Becoming a Brilliant Listener, Getting Your Kids to Talk with You, and Family Conversations your Teen Will Love.
8. Encourage good self-care
…such as the nine and half hours of sleep every teen needs, and a good diet. Coffee is a bad idea for early teens because it interferes with normal sleep patterns. Too much screen time, especially in the hour before bedtime, reduces melatonin production and makes it harder for kids to fall asleep at night.
culled from ahaparenting.com