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Parenting Teens



What do I tell my daughter when she says, "Its not fair, all the other parents are letting them do ______, why can't I"

Setting boundaries is never a fun activity for parents. But kids need them. Think of boundaries as a railing on a cruise ship…..they are the line between what is safe and falling into the ocean! There are lots of activities going on safely behind the rails. But on the other side is the potential for disaster.

But, my teen won't like me if I …..  (don't let them go to the concert, drive with that boy, stay out late, etc.)…..

Many parents have a hard time with this one. The role of a parent though, is not meant to be popular, but to help the young person grow into a responsible adult. Studies have shown that young people who don't have enough boundaries in adolescence turn into irresponsible adults who don't know how to set limits on their own behavior. That makes for adults who do not make good career, partner, financial or other decisions.

There are so many theories about parenting….how do I know which boundaries are important?

What boundaries to set are determined by your value system and how you want your household to be. Do you value independence more than you value a set amount of family time each week? If so, then you may let your teen plan more of his own free time. If you value family time more, then you may require more of his or her time at family events.

OK, I have figured out which values are the most important to me, now what?

Ask yourself this question: how do you want your household to be? Put each boundary decision you make through that filter. Are you telling your teen they cannot use the phone past 10 PM because you want to sleep starting at 10:00 (how you want your household to be) or is it because you are trying to keep her from speaking to that boyfriend you do not like (trying to control)? Most parents don't like to hear it, but their teen can get around almost any rule you set for them if they want to. So examine your motives honestly and put your foot down (firmly!) about the rules that are ones you need to feel safe and comfortable in you own home. This does three things:

· Focuses your energy on the things you deem most important
· Imparts your values (your job as a parent)
· Makes the child accountable for their own behavior

When my teen breaks a rule, I just do not have the energy to enforce a consequence.

This is one of the toughest parts of being a parent. That is why this cardinal rule: don't set a boundary you cannot, or will not, enforce! Not setting the boundary is better than setting it and not following through when it is crossed. By not following through, you teach your child that all rules are negotiable. Not a value that most parents want to teach their child. 

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