Hope for Families Who’ve Been Struggling With Raising Teens

Hope for Families Who've Been Struggling With Raising Teens

Teenagers can be notoriously difficult to raise. The adolescent years are fraught with all types of drama, challenges, and a multitude of decisions to be made. The time we spend with them seems to go by so quickly, yet some days it feels like they will never reach adulthood. For parents, our teens can present new challenges on a daily basis. But we all want our kids to grow up productive, happy, and mentally healthy.

As parents, you have many reasons to hope for the best. There is much we can do to teach teens how to grow up happy and responsible. To help you guide your teens through this difficult transition to adulthood, here are some important tips for parenting your teen.

  • Listen
    Most teens will feel loved and valued when you listen to them. Even if what they’re talking about seems non-vital or doesn’t really interest you, they must feel you value what they have to say. If they know you’re listening on the small stuff, they’re more likely to talk to you about the things that really count. That “small stuff” can help you keep the lines of communication open on everything else.
  • Love
    Make sure you teen knows you love them unconditionally — but don’t confuse unconditional love with unconditional approval. While you will love them the same no matter what, you won’t always agree with their decisions. Make sure you’re clear on the difference. Also, make sure your teen knows they can always come to you for help or guidance. It’s okay and perfectly normal for them — and for you — to need emotional support.
  • Talk About Internet Safety
    The Internet, social networking, and other tools present unprecedented access to friends, information, and also things like bullying and sex. Talk to your kids openly about the dangers, your expectations, and the importance of safety — including using their phones while driving. Make sure they know they can come to you without judgement if they receive communications, such as in appropriate texts or sexting, that make them uncomfortable.
  • Set Limits – and Stick to Them
    First of all, make your expectations clear. When you make a rule or decide on a punishment, make sure it’s something you’re willing to follow through on. Waffling on your word will encourage teens (and kids) to test you to find out what the limits really are. Make sure yours are both appropriate and enforceable. That said, a teen who demonstrates their trustworthiness should be granted further freedom, until and unless they start making poor choices.
  • Set a Positive Example
    Whether it’s living by house rules, putting away your cell phone, or talking openly about feelings and expectations, your teen is likely to follow your lead. If you confront in anger, shut down communication, or avoid seeking emotional support when needed, your teen is likely to do the same.

If you feel you’re doing all you can to help your teen, but they still seem troubled, take advantage of the many resources available to you. From parenting classes, to family counseling, to psychiatric therapy and boarding schools, there is plenty of support available to help your teen get the best out of life and each other.

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