Smart Parenting: Special Needs of Teens
There are three essential values that you need to teach your children before they reach age twelve:
- A good work ethic
- Structured school routines
- Respect for authority
Establishing these values and habits is easier said than done. I do not want to give you the impression that any major parenting task occurs without frustration, seemingly endless repeated efforts with longdelayed tangible results, and sleepless nights. Parenting is hard, and it gets harder and requires more creativity during the teen years.
Difficult though it may be, if you do not accomplish these tasks by the time your child reaches his teen years, it might become more difficult to guide him away from trouble—but it is not impossible. The key is communicating. Talk to your teen about everything, even if it appears as though he is not paying attention. The more you talk with your teen, offer your opinion, and avoid peppering him with questions, the more he will talk to you.
The Importance of Cooperative Co-Parenting
The teenage years are the time where children naturally question authority and mistrust adults. With good parenting and open lines of communication, parentchild bonds can be strong enough to overcome those difficulties. Consider the teen who has grown up in an atmosphere of hatred, criticism of one parent by the other parent, uncontrolled anger and hostility, indifference, lack of empathy, and failure to offer forgiveness. That is a long list of negative attributes, but it is these attributes that form and foster conflict between fighting parents. Your children often have no choice but to follow the example you set. How will you overcome your teenager's perception of "do as I say, not as I do" if you tune out the co-parent, refuse to communicate when you are angry, and behave selfishly and without regard for anyone else's feelings? These are the very things we recoil at seeing in our teens. They are the most obnoxious, inelegant aspects of teen life that evaporate even the deepest stores of patience. Yet fighting co-parents demonstrate these behaviors on a daily basis. It is difficult enough to positively influence teenagers when we are not demonstrating the very behavior we seek to eliminate or reduce in them.
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