Looking for some parenting insight from a teen perspective? Here are few suggestions:
Tell us why you say “no.”
The quickest way to start a fight with your teen is to say: “Because I said so.” We work very hard at staging our requests so we can win a “yes.” So when we get an inexplicable “no,” it’s hard for us to be civil, and we resort to tantrums. Sharing your reasons will help us be more mature, work toward compromise and understand your logic in future decision making.
Don’t obsess over your child’s weight.
There’s a difference between sharing the benefits of a healthier lifestyle with your overweight child and nagging your healthy children every time they want to treat themselves to seconds. Parents who constantly warn their children that they don’t need another doughnut are encouraging unhealthy eating habits. In The New York Times, psychologist Lawrence Kutner wrote: “Parents become food police, constantly monitoring and judging what a child eats. Yet children consistently report that they feel as if parents are judging them, not their behavior.”
Understand that the college admission process has changed.
While your child may, in fact, be as amazing as you think he or she is, there’s no such thing as a “shoo-in” anymore. Nearly all students who apply to top-tier schools are equally qualified. And most of these schools only accept about 10 percent of the applicants—leaving the other 90 percent of the straight-A, award-winning, philanthropic athletes wondering where they went wrong. When talking with your children about college, be careful how you frame the discussion.
Once is enough; don’t be a broken record.
The daily lecture on the fact that (gasp!) underage drinking is still illegal, doesn’t do anything to prevent your teen from drinking. Instead, tell us why underage drinking is wrong. For me, it was learning that I could have fun without alcohol, and that a drink wasn’t worth the risk. No matter what the topic is, try to have something new to add when you revisit an area that’s already been discussed.
Let your children make mistakes and learn from them.
Even though you may want to demand that your teen stop cruising Facebook and head to bed, trying to force them to shut down their computer, will probably just make them rebel. Instead, mention that it’s getting late, and let them make the choice for themselves. The next morning when he or she crawls out of bed after only 3 hours of sleep, they’ll regret their decision and hopefully make better choices in the future.