CAN YOU DO TO STAY CONNECTED WITH THE TEENAGERS IN YOUR LIFE
Susan Ginsberg Ed.D.
parents, grandparents and concerned citizens, we can be advocates
for change in the larger society. But what can we do in our own
families to raise children who are secure, well-balanced, caring,
responsible, able to communicate, and who have a positive view of
thought of having an adolescent child fills many parents with dread.
We talk about ┐surviving the teenage yearsţ as if we░re going into
combat. We need to rethink these attitudes because they can easily
become self-fulfilling prophecies. Despite the many physical and emotional
changes teenagers go through, they do not become unpleasant, heartless
creatures. In fact, Dr. Laurence Steinberg, says that even though
there are some inevitable family tensions, children from many different
kinds of homes report a high degree of respect for their parents and
most kids turn out just fine.
attitudes toward teenagers can also lead to parents to pull away
from their own children, assuming that they can░t influence them
anymore. This, in turn, allows kids to withdraw▄a pattern that has
been shown to end up with troubled adolescents.
YOU KNOW ABOUT TEENS?
of the most frequently asked questions these days is: ┐How well
do you know your teens?ţ To answer that, it░s important first
to know about teens. For example:
face many pressures that adults tend not to take seriously. Their bodies are changing;
they worry about their personal safety, divorce, and death. They
ask themselves: ┐Who am Iţ and ┐What am I going to do with my life?ţ
some degree, you can expect teens to be moody and self-centered, to question your values
and your authority. That░s because they░re trying to establish an
identity of their own.
Teens feel pressure to conform and fear ridicule if they don░t.
This can be bewildering, frightening, and even depressing.
teens want to be treated like adults, it░s important for parents to provide structure
and limits. Teens need help sorting out their lives as well as large
doses of tender loving care.
WITH YOUR TEEN
know what your teenager is doing and provide appropriate guidance,
you may need some new ways of interacting. Here are some suggestions
to help keep the lines of communication between you and your teen
Yes, the pressures of work stand in your way and kids also want
to be with their friends. Think of this as a critical opportunity
to have a major input into your child░s life. However, kids this
age don░t want to full blast of attention. They open up best when
you░re doing something else such as driving or just hanging out
rush in if you hear something you don░t approve of. We want to impart our values,
but maintain a ┐safeţ atmosphere for kids to tell us things they
know we may not like. Try saying: ┐I░m glad you told me that.
Let me give it some thought and we can talk about it again.ţ
teens░ ideas, thoughts and beliefs. Ask for their opinions and suggestions and show
confidence in their judgment. Include them in family decision-making.
teens make sensible choices. Teach them to take a problem-solving approach to
decision-making. Encourage their independence. Think carefully about
when they can decide for themselves and when you need to step in.
you get mad, don░t blame or accuse. Blaming serves only to arouse tempers and kill
dialogue▄it forces teens to argue the point. Say what you feel,
using ┐Iţ messages: ┐I░m angry (or sad or disappointed) becauseŮţ
Instead of ┐You░re a lazy slob,ţ try ┐I░m upset because you didn░t clean up the mess.ţ
Labels are hurtful and can stand in the way of kids thinking they
can change their behavior▄and, thus, can last a lifetime.
what you want your kids to do. Instead of ┐Don░t you dare talk to me like that,ţ try a more positive approach:
┐I expect to be treated with respect.ţ
you child░s strengths.
Recognize a specific effort instead of giving blanket praise: for
example, ┐I can see that you really tried hard to improve your
Teenagers need them and, deep down, really want them. The limits
you set should be rooted in your family░s values and beliefs and
your teen░s privacy in the same way you want him or her to respect
yours. However, if you suspect
there░s something seriously wrong, speak up or take action.
an active interest in your teen░s friends. What are they like? What kids of things
are they interested in? Stay in touch with their parents. Lots of
valuable information can be exchanged about school, teachers, or
social events such as: Will there really be an adult at that
party on Saturday night?
from Work & Family Life newsletter, edited by Susan Ginsberg)