Tips for Parents of Teenagers (page 2)
Make sure your teen has someone else to talk to: Make sure your teen has a doctor both of you trust, and that a working professional relationship has been established between them. If your teen wants to switch doctors, meet the new doctor to make sure you are comfortable with the change. Make sure your teen has confidants other than you (such as extended family, a religious leader, school counselor, and family friends). If you feel that others are leading your teen down a dangerous path, however, don't be afraid to step in. Your teen still needs your protection.
Tell your teen what you think: Studies show that teens are less likely to smoke, drink, do drugs and engage in premarital sex if their parents clearly tell them not to. Talk to your teens honestly and frankly. Provide them with the appropriate information that they need, and be careful to keep the lines of communication open. Does your teen appear to not be listening? Sometimes teens will appear to be shrugging off what you have to say when they are really just trying to appear cool. If you don't say anything because you assume they won't listen, you are leaving them in the lurch.
Don't dismiss complaints from your teen: Does your teen have stomach aches, headaches, sleep problems, waking up problems? Take complaints seriously -- they might indicate a physical, social or emotional problem. Ask your teen, and then listen. This is your opportunity to find out what's really happening. If your instincts tell you that something is not right, don't just chalk it up to teen angst. Listen to your gut, and press for more information or for outside help.
We don't think all teens are troubled: Parents and teen-agers should know that we don't think that the majority of teens are bad or likely to get into trouble. We believe most teens are fun, helpful, interesting, full of enthusiasm, and responsible. But the teen years can be troubled times for some, and we want to make sure that the teens and families who do need help and support -- can find it here.
You're Still the Boss: Don't give up on your struggling teen: The results of some surveys of teen-agers reflect a dismay that their parents seem to "give up on them" when they hit adolescence. Some parents back away from their sons and daughters, believing that they need "space" or room to rebel. Some parents even allow their children to experiment with smoking, drugs or sex, believing that they will do it anyway. But many teens are puzzled or troubled by this sudden extra space they're given. "It's like they don't care anymore," was how one teen put it. "I don't understand why they don't know I'm having sex," said another. We suggest you not view adolescence much differently than any other year. Your teens no longer need a diaper change, true, but now, more than ever, they need love, guidance, discipline, training in problem-solving, attention, fun time with you, quiet time with you, hugs, praise, and discussions about troublesome topics. Having a problem communicating? Don't let it fester. See the Safer Child pages on communication for more.
Be wary of "boot camps" or "youth ranches" for troubled teens: We urge caution when choosing a "boot camp" or "youth ranch" for a troubled teen. Standards for these places vary wildly, and some of them are dangerous. Teen-agers have died in poorly run facilities. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report in 2007 on these camps: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-10-10-boot-camps_N.htm Speak to police, social services, and the Better Business Bureau before sending your teen to a particular facility. For help with your teen, check with your local Department of Health or Department of Health and Welfare for suggestions and ideas. This book tells a story of a family that refused to give up on a struggling teen: A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression by Gary E. Nelson
Make sure your teen gets enough positive, undivided attention: While you don't have to worry about them accidentally eating the poinsettia, you do have to know whom they're with and what they're doing. You still need to make sure they're getting proper nutrition (don't allow them to consistently set the rules for where, when or what to eat!) and that they're getting enough sleep (don't allow them to set the bedtime!).
You still want to regularly set aside special time so you can talk and play together. You might not be able to play with toys, but you can play board games, bake or cook, try on makeup or learn to fix a car, go shopping, decorate a bedroom together, attend a ballgame or concert, learn a new language together -- or go camping, hiking, bungee jumping, swimming, horseback riding..
Reprinted with the permission of Safer Child, Inc. © 2000-2008 Safer Child, Inc. All rights reserved.
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