Parenting is an ever-changing and never-ending job. Just when you think you have it all figured out, your child enters a new phase in their growth and development and you feel like everything you had figured out just flew out the window. In fact, you don’t even know if this teenager is the same child you were parenting last week or if someone switched him/her out in the middle of the night. While there is no parenting handbook or set of rules for parenting teens, there are some parenting tips that can at least point you in the right direction or give you some new ideas to try.
Teenagers are all very different but are all trying to fit in and find their place. Typical teenage behavior can account for many of the teen issues you may be facing, but sometimes you may wonder if what you are going through is really normal or if you teen may need some extra help. During the teenage years you will want to pay very careful attention to your teen, talk to them as often as possible, but be aware that you will learn much more by listening than you will by talking. Often asking a teenager about how they think a situation should be handled or what possible solutions may be, will get them thinking and help them make well thought out decisions, instead of rash decisions they will regret later.
Pay attention to who your teens spends time with, their eating and sleeping habits, and their temperament. If you notice a drastic change in any of these areas you may want to find out more information about teen eating disorders, teen drug use, and teen depression. These are all very serious issues and you should never jump to any conclusion or accuse your teen of being involved in something that you think they may be involved in. Do some research first, then try talking to your teen about a specific issue in general terms: “How do you feel about teen drug abuse?” Asking what they know or how they feel about something may provide an opening that they have been looking for to discuss these serious matters with you.
Always let your teenager know that you love them and will help and support them in any way you can. If your teen knows they can trust you to help them, that you will be understanding and caring not just judgemental and punishing, they will be much more willing to talk to you about what is happening and what you can do to help. Remember that we all make mistakes and that being a teenager is hard. This doesn’t mean your teenager doesn’t need rules and consequences, in fact having a parent contract detailing expected behavior and consequences can help tremendously in avoiding many teen problems.