Understanding Your Independent Teenager

Parents need to keep communication lines open with their teenagers. 

It has long been understood that teenagers are in the process of gaining their independence.  This often results in pulling away from their parents and toward their friends more.  It’s an important step, and it needs to be handled with care.  Teenagers need their independence to grow up with confidence.  What they don’t need though is absent parents.

Keeping communication with your teenager is a must so you can guide them about making proper choices.  All teens seem to engage in a little more drama than necessary, and it is your job as a parent to gently bring them back down to earth before they spin out of control.  So how do you do it, when you know that every word you say and every look you give might be misconstrued, turning you into the enemy?

Your first course of action is observance.  You need to sit back and watch your teen interact with peers, authority figures, the general public, and relatives.  One of the primary things you might discover when you do is that the worst behavior is reserved for you alone.  Your teen might be very comfortable behaving with the outside world, and feel quite safe testing the boundaries at home.  While it’s not easy accepting this, you can take comfort in knowing that your teen is perfectly normal, and not about to get into horrible trouble in the real world.  Kudos to you for a job well done!

Your second course of action is keeping communication lines open.  That’s a little hard to do in this age of technology, so learn to text.  Teens are well adept at tuning out the all too often spoken words of parents, but there isn’t one of them who won’t read each and every one their text messages, even the ones from you.  Now be careful here.  Teen drama is still very much in play. Only text what you know won’t come back to haunt you after it has been passed around and vented upon.

Your third course of action is love and trust.  Teens are doing what teens do.  They aren’t bad for it, and they shouldn’t have lost your trust just because they entered a new phase of life.  That’s not to imply that you should give them a clean slate to do whatever they want.  Not at all!  You need to monitor their activities, know who their friends are, and hang out with them from time to time.  These are the things that will reassure or warn you about what, if anything, you need to do next.  They are also the things that will encourage your teen to pursue unimaginable dreams and achieve unbelievable goals, just like you did not so long ago, when you were a teenager.

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©2011, 2012 All Rights Reserved Teresa DePoy

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