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21 Tips For Teens


  1. Celebrate their puberty. If they take their sexuality underground because it embarrasses you, they will quickly follow it and may not emerge for a few years.

  2. Don’t let your teen kids shock you, insist upon hearing it all, and honestly compare your own adolescence. Adolescents aren’t alienated, their parents are.

  3. Stay connected with your adolescent kids. Get them out in the woods or up on a mountain, any place where you are not in control and you are dependent on one another.

  4. Keep adolescents moving. They are only a problem when they stop. Work and sports save lives.

  5. The rules must be clear. Negotiate them, write them out, have the teen sign them, magnet them to the refrigerator and follow them yourself.

  6. Don’t escalate the punishment as a way of getting the adolescent under control. Your efforts will only throw them out of control. Instead, just keep them with you until they have heard your calm feelings about what they are doing and you have heard theirs.

  7. If your adolescent refuses to do what you tell them, refuse to provide goods and services for them. Don’t fight with them, just starve them out.

  8. Don’t try to protect teens from natural consequences. That is how they learn about reality. Your punishment only teaches them unpleasant things about you.

  9. Don’t threaten anything you aren’t willing to do. Underreact and make the kids wait for your reaction.

  10. Don’t turn matters of style into maters of substance. Let them get themselves up in weird ways without making it a moral issue.

  11. Don’t respect your children’s privacy by letting them hide in their rooms and keep their lives secret from you.

  12. If there are two or more parents, you must not do anything unilaterally. You must not undercut one another and you must not fight it out in front of the adolescent. You don’t have to be right, but you do have to be together.

  13. If you are a single mother of a teenage son, accept your authority and don’t let your son think he is the boss. Don’t bring in a new stepfather just now unless he is extraordinarily humble and powerless. If you feel the need for a male partner in parenting, pull in the real father or perhaps an uncle or grandfather, but you stay in charge.

  14. Try to listen to their music. You can’t be expected to live with it if it loosens the wallpaper, undermines the foundation and defrosts the refrigerator. But the lyrics help you better understand how scary it is to be an adolescent.

  15. Never let your teens embarrass you or let the reactions or shocked friends, gawking strangers, or indigent teachers be more important than the feelings of your beloved child who just made a humiliating mess.

  16. Cultivate a bad recent memory. Refuse to recall what they did wrong the day before. Start each day as if it were a new relationship. Adolescents change so very rapidly and self-consciously, it probably is

  17. Don’t go nuts over what your adolescent is doing until you have talked it over with the family therapist. You may need one unless you are a particularly co-operative couple or are backed up by a good team of aunts and uncles.

  18. If older teenagers don’t respect the comforts of family life, let them leave. If they get along OK without you then they were right, they didn’t need you after all. But if you’re not too unpleasant, soon they’ll see that they want you, and that’s better for you both.

  19. As a last resort, call the cops. Teens must understand that the world supports your efforts to raise them unless you are violent or angrily insulting to a teenager. Only a maniacal parent would be as foolhardy as that.

  20. Remember that adolescence is a time of normal psychosis, the most painful time in anyone’s life. You’ve been there so you can see it from the adolescent’s perspective but they can’t yet see it from yours. Keep thinking about how wonderful it will be when it’s over and your kids are free to become just like you. They will come to love you just as much as you love your parents because they’ll learn this as they’ll learn everything, not from what you tell them is right but from your example.

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