Do you remember being a teenager? What things were most important to you? Did you care about the things your parents valued?
Parenting teens can be a fun and memorable part of raising kids. So many parents and teens that I meet are just not having a good time with each other. Here are just a few of the tips I have used and taught folks. I am committed to helping parents find and express the love and appreciation they have for their almost adult family members.
* First, decide that you like teens and plan to have a positive relationship with them.
* Leave room for them to be experimenting and finding out who they are. Remind yourself that they are still growing and changing.
* Reframe their "rebellion" in positive terms such as, individuation and exploration of values.
* Make contact with some twenty somethings you like and ask them what they were like in their teens. Find out what they think is helpful.
* Let go of YOUR expectations and find out what is going on for them, their goals, challenges and dreams.
* Learn to empower teens to make changes in their lives. Get clear about the difference between empowering and enabling.
If you think your teen has a problem with substance abuse, share your concern from a place of love and caring. Don't jump to conclusions out of fear. Spend time with your teen talking and finding out about their current challenges. Offer to be a listener and then listen!
Threats, ultimatums and traps don't build connection. Help troubled teens find ways to help themselves without cutting off communication. Offer and support treatment when appropriate. And remember to take good care of yourself and nurture your other relationships.
Remember that, when they come out the other side of the challenges of adolescence, you want to have a loving connection. Avoid the pitfalls of dehumanizing them. Make sure the message of love gets through! Remind yourself that we are all human beings, deserving of dignity and respect.