What are the secrets to success in parenting teenagers?
I have three top tips for parents of teens. They are:
1.) Focus on staying connected…this means sharing time and space with your teen. Find things that you enjoy together. Whether this happens every day, or every week matters less than that it happens with some regularity. Being connected is a prerequisite for communication.
2.) Think “Basics.” Parents of teens too often think there is some magic that occurs in families who seem to function well. It isn’t magic. Its attention to the basics: treat your teen with respect; listen to what s/he has to say; allow your teen to express emotions; do not be afraid to share both your authority and your flexibility.
3.) Develop and nurture a support network for yourself. Parents who are connected with other parents keep their teens safer, improve their communities, and benefit from sharing ideas, humor and perspective on what can sometimes be a lonely journey.
What do teens need the most?
Teenagers need three basic things: love, boundaries and power. Love: Parents of teens need to regularly express their love, and do this in ways that feel comfortable for their teen. This is even (or rather, especially!) true for teens who are uncommunicative. Boundaries: Teenagers need rules for which they are held accountable… truly, this is an expression of your love and teens who have reasonable rules actually have better relationships with their parents than kids with no boundaries at all. And power: this refers to allowing your developing child to make some decisions for himself; teens need to tune into their own interests and desires and practice making good decisions.
What mistakes do parents of teens often make?
Well-intentioned parents too often will jump in to solve their teen’s problems, or tell them what to do. This can actually undermine a teen’s development. With teens, it’s best to act like a mentor, and to offer guidance when it is requested. Another area where parents have trouble is in finding the balance between being over-protective and giving teens too much freedom. Getting the balance right is not always easy, and of course it changes all the time. The middle ground is usually the best place to aim.
What actions can parents take toward an improved relationship with their teen in 30 days?
Parents actually get pretty poor grades from teenagers for listening. So, the first thing I recommend is to really focus on listening – from not just your head, but your heart as well. Listen to the underlying emotions, not just the words. Next, focus on connection. Spend time doing something enjoyable together regularly. And be sure to treat your teen with respect; their opinion matters and even if you don’t agree. These three things alone can yield big changes in the relationship.
Sue Blaney enhances communication and understanding between parents and teens. She is the author of Please Stop the Rollercoaster! How Parents of Teenagers Can Smooth Out the Ride, the acclaimed guide for parents and parent discussion groups that has helped thousands of parents around the country improve relationships with their teens. And she has recorded You’re Empowered! Parenting Teens with Conviction, Communication and Love, a 3-hour audio program based on the premise communication is the key to success in parenting teens. She is a Certified Professional Behavior Analyst, a communications expert and has spent 30 years in training, marketing, publishing and sales.
You're Empowered gives you the tools you need to be an empowered parent and enhance your relationship with your teen. The three CD set makes it easy to listen at home or on the go; the 28 page workbook makes it easy to review what you learn. ...