Raising children is not always easy, and by the time they are teenagers, things can become especially chaotic—hormones are raging, attitudes developing and it could be the last they’ll live in the house before venturing off alone into the world for college.
Ellen Pober Rittberg is a parent, children’s attorney, and parenting writer and former host of the award-winning cable TV show The Changing Family who offers useful tips on raising teenagers. Discover what advice this professional has below!
Friend vs. Parent
Forgo being the hip parent, and instead earn their respect in being the responsible role model a child needs.
Hold Your Ground
Don’t debate your teenager. Sometimes a child needs to hear “no.” Hold your ground, especially for activities and behaviors your child may participate in that may affect them negatively or put them in harm’s way.
Buying a Car
Your teen may want a car when they turn 16, but it is not advised that you buy one for her or him. Teenagers have a high rate of car accidents, including fatal ones. Stress the importance of safe driving, and if they’re going to get a car, make them work to contribute to the bottom line so they understand the value of hard work, taking care of their property, and responsibility.
Encourage your child to participate in sports. Participating in after-school activities has not only been linked with teens learning how to budget their time, but it also makes them active, and teaches them how to operate with others as a team.
Participate in School Functions
Life can get busy, and sometimes parents can be strapped for time, but participating in school functions like bake sales and field trips demonstrates to your child that you care about them no matter how busy life gets and will be their to support them. It also allows the teachers and staff have a better understanding of you, which will come in handy should you ever need to speak with them about anything relating to your child.
Before teenagers fly from their nest, it is important for them to grow up with rules in place to have some guidance and structure before they call their own shots as adults. Rules such as no eating in the bedrooms, no name calling, or cleaning up after themselves will prove useful when they get older, especially if they eventually have roommate, whom they will have to be considerate of when living together.
Get a Job
Teenagers are one of the highest consumer demographics, and if your child wants to spend money on clothes, music, and other goodies, encourage them to get a job so they can learn the value of money, budgeting and hard work, instead of giving them everything.
Know Their Friends
Who a child is friends with, and who influences them away from home, is important for a parent to be aware of. There’s no need to pry or interrogate, but being friendly, asking questions and having an interest will allow you a window into your teen’s world away from home.
Teenagers don’t always let parents in on what’s going on in their lives, but in observing your child (appearance, mood, hygiene, etc.) allows a parent to assess the situation without having to ask or be told.
Sometimes children make mistakes they will be too afraid or embarrassed to discuss with a parent. Recognize mistakes will be had, but let them know you will be there for them through the good and the bad.