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It’s as inevitable as night follows day that as your teenager gets older, he or she will begin to prefer spending time with their friends. And as time goes on, that instinct will get stronger and stronger. It’s at this time that peer pressure really starts to take hold. Friends matter more than family – a bit more at first, and then suddenly a whole lot more.
Try to understand: it’s not about rejection. Well, it is about rejection but there’s a reason for it. Young people have to develop their capacity to make strong bonds outside the family – learning to do this is a critical task of adolescence. It’s as vital a developmental stage as pulling herself up on the furniture was during toddlerhood.
Learning how to handle adult relationships will determine how successful they are in their intimate relationships, in their working relationships, and in their friendships throughout life. And it all starts here, in teenage friendship.
How to deal with friends who are bad influences
The biggest problem comes when your child’s peer group doesn’t look like the sort of people you want him/her to be friendly with. You then start to notice behaviour you disapprove of; and you think of his/her new friend as ‘a bad influence’.
Be very, very careful if this happens. Your instinct might be to criticise the friend, and to do all you can to shift them further away. But the problem is that the stronger you disapprove of the friends, the more attractive they will be to your son or daughter. The wise mum bites her tongue; but no-one said it was going to be easy.
You can’t stop this happening, all you can do is what you have done so well so far – be supportive, but be clear that if your teenager makes decisions against the advice of experienced, successful adults around them, then they have to take the responsibility for the consequences.”
When two parents of previous marriages decide to marry, it can bring a lot of emotional baggage to the children. Use these tips as your guide to help you rise above the most common issues of a blended family.
Problem 1: Hurt and Angry Feelings
Children in blended families can become defiant. Having a new parent can cause a child to feel doubtful about life which may lead to lack of cooperation. Oftentimes, a stepparent will be held liable for the divorce of a biological parent. The child can also feel confused between staying loyal to the biological parent and liking the stepparent.
The Solution: Be empathetic. Allot time for adjustment and accept whatever hurt feelings the child may have. But, do make sure the child still shows a certain level of respect for the parent and stepparent. Avoid dictating how the child should feel. Tell him that you understand that this situation must be hard for him.
Problem 2: Difference In Parenting Styles
One of the biggest problems of blended families is parenting. You and your partner may have your own parenting style and once you make changes, that is when conflicts arise. Your child may think his new stepparent is controlling you which can make him resentful towards your new spouse.
The Solution: Come up with a list of values the two of you want to instil such as honesty and respect. Then, discuss your perspectives on parenting. For instance, you may think withholding privileges is the best way to discipline your child while you partner is in favour of using time-outs. Next, tackle household rules such as your child’s bedtime. Once you are both clear on each other’s beliefs, you can discuss parenting strategies you can apply that will be valuable for your family and that respects everyone’s opinion. After that, hold a family meeting and talk about your agreed rules and discipline methods. Your child is more likely to follow you and your new spouse when you present a united front.
Problem 3: The Need To Compete
Divorce can make children question their parents love for them. Children often believe that they have to compete for their parent’s attention and affection if there is a new parent and child in the picture.
The Solution: Children need reminders. It is important to spend quality time with your toddler, minus the stepparent. Hug and kiss your child. Say “I love you” often. Treat every family member equally. Allow the children to bond.
Problem 4: The “Ex”
An ex who meddles with the formation of a new family can make the situation more complicated. An ex can rant about you or your new spouse in front of your child. Or, your stepchild’s biological mother may take your stepchild out to an amusement park and leave your child behind.
The Solution: This one is out of your control. But, what you can do is try to be the best parent you can be. Do not thrash talk your ex in front of your child. If your stepchild is out with his mother, spend time with your child to avoid feelings of rejection.
Problem 5: Creating A Family
A blended family does not function like traditional families. Having a new parent is already difficult, but having a new sibling just makes things more complicated.
The Solution: Connect with one another. Read books together during bedtime. Organise weekend trips with your new family. Create a “return ritual” when doing a house switch such as stopping for ice cream on the way home. This gives everyone grace period before jumping into a different routine.
Growing together as a stepfamily is not always easy. But with time, patience and effort, you can form a secure and happy family.
When it comes to talking to teens about drugs and alcohol, many parents don’t know where to begin. Every child is unique, so there is no one correct way to talk to your teen about drugs and alcohol. However, here are five tips you should follow to help the conversation stay positive and be productive.
1. Be prepared.
You don’t want to bring up the subject of drug abuse and addiction, and then not be able to answer any questions your teen has. To prepare for a conversation with your teen about substance abuse, it is necessary to educate yourself about the subject.
Learn what drugs are available, street names, trends and the effects of each drug – short term and long term. The drugs that were available when you were a teenager are not the same drugs being used or abused by teens today.
You should also be ready for questions about your own drug use as a teen and young adult. Your teen is likely to be curious; she will no doubt ask if you have ever used drugs. How you handle this question, if you have used drugs, is up to you. While it is important that you are truthful with him, there are some things that should be kept private, or at least a part of a different conversation you can have later.
2. Ask questions.
Find out what your teen knows about drug and alcohol abuse. Many school students say they have at least one friend who uses illegal drugs like acid, ecstasy, meth, cocaine, or heroin.
Does your teen have a friend that is using illicit drugs? How well do you know your teen’s friends? Talk to her about her friends. Sometimes teens have a friend who is abusing drugs and they want to help. Encourage her to talk about her friend and her feelings about what is happening. There is a very good chance that your teen has been offered drugs on at least one occasion. Talk to your her about how she handled a situation in which she was offered drugs.
Questions you may want to ask your teen:
• What kind of drugs are kids at her school using?
• Does she have friends that are using or abusing drugs?
• Does she know anyone who drinks? Do they drink at school?
• Has she ever been to a party where there was alcohol or drugs being used?
Take it easy, though. You don’t want her to feel like she’s being interrogated.
3. Brace yourself.
Hopefully you don’t have to hear your teen confess to drinking or using drugs. If your teen does confide in you about experimenting with drugs or alcohol, it’s so important that you stay calm. Yelling, lecturing or otherwise freaking out will not only end the conversation, it will put a wedge in your relationship with your teen. If your teen trusts you enough to talk to you about something like this, it really is a good thing. How you handle your teen’s confession is going to make all the difference in the world when it comes to honest, open communication between the two of you.
However, you should bring up the subject of consequences. Ask if there were any consequences for her actions. Talk about real life consequences such as financial, legal, and relationship trouble. Remind her that drug abuse can lead to drug addiction, and that drug addicts struggle with every aspect of their lives, oftentimes ending up broke, alone and in prison.
Do the best you can to listen, without interrupting. Teens will sometimes veer off topic, talking about school, stress, and friends. These are the important things that make up their lives. These are also the things that can lead to drug abuse. Let your teen express herself and talk to you about what is important to her.
Do not offer advice unless you are asked for it. Teenagers sometimes hear advice as lecturing or telling them what to do. Listen, encourage her, and let her know that you’re always going to be there for her.
You should have conversations like this often. It will help the two of you to build a strong relationship.
5. Be truthful.
Scare tactics claiming that marijuana use is the gateway to heroin addiction or that using cocaine once causes instant addiction do not work.
The truth is, addiction is a brain disease that can happen to anyone. There is no way of knowing if you are susceptible to addiction before using drugs. You only know once you are addicted and it’s too late.
Drug and alcohol addiction can be prevented.
Teenage love is not what it used to be. Gone are the days when teens would sheepishly pass love notes in class or meet at the park after dark to whisper sweet nothings to one another. The advancements in technology have equipped today’s teens with the freedom to instantly communicate with very little policing from their parents. Keep in mind that teens now have more access to mature subject matter than we ever did. They no longer need to solely rely on the “birds and the bees” talk from Mum and Dad. While they still seek information from their peers, they now can get sex education from TV, movies, on-line, and even video games! Trust me, if you’re not talking to your teen about sex, somebody else is.
So what do you get when you cross a curious teen with raging hormones and the alluring anonymity of text messaging? You guessed it; Sexting! It gives teens the courage and false sense of maturity to say something that they would never otherwise say face-to-face. To them, it is easy, fun and makes them feel grown up. But as a parent, you need to know that sexting is dangerous and can have not only long-term emotional consequences and criminal consequences as well.
“Sexting” has been defined as the act of sending or posting provocative or sexually explicit personal images, video or text via a mobile phone or other electronic device. Sexting mainly occurs among teens ranging in age from 13 -19. Also a recent study shows:
- 20% of teens surveyed reported that they have sent/posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves
- 37% of teen girls admitted to sending/posting sexually suggestive messages
- 39% of teen boys admitted to sending/posting sexually suggestive messages
- 66% of teen girls and 60% of teen boys reported that they did so to be fun or flirtatious
- 25% of teen girls and 33% of teen boys reported that they have had nude or semi-nude images shared with them despite the fact that these images were originally sent to someone else
- 51% of teen girls reported feeling pressure from a guy to send sexy messages or images
As a parent, you need to be aware of the legal ramifications of sexting. Any image or photo containing some form of nudity of a child under the age of 18 can automatically be considered child pornography. Many places have already enacted legislation that calls for serious charges to be brought against anyone, regardless of age, who distributes, sends, or takes such images. Teens often don’t have the maturity and forethought to realize that once they put such a picture on the internet it can be accessed and used by anyone. What they thought was an innocent act can lead to harassment, intimidation, public humiliation, or the risk having it fall into the hands of someone with malicious intent.
Be sure to talk with your kids about the dangers of cyberspace and social networking sites. It’s important to know who your teens are communicating with and to clearly express your expectations for appropriate behavior. If you suspect inappropriate behavior, set limitations and restrictions and always remember that having a mobile phone is a privilege… not a right!
One of the toughest parts of being a parent of a troubled teenager is setting a clear set of rules and enforcing punishment or consequences when those rules are broken. Discipline is necessary for all kids who will eventually grow into adults in the real world. All kids means your kids, too.
Defiant teenagers will naturally want to push and test the limits of a parents resolve and authority. Parents should know that authority once lost is almost never regained. It’s best to communicate with your teen and discuss the boundaries set out for them. You may also want to discuss the reasons for those boundaries.
Lay out boundaries and establish rules for defiant teenagers
Just get used to it. Teenagers are just naturally defiant, it’s part of the process of growing into adulthood and exerting their own power and influence on their world. But defiant teenagers need boundaries. They need to know just how far they can push before suffering the consequences of their actions.
It’s important to establish rules early on, while your kids are still young and relatively compliant. As they grow older, and begin to become increasingly independent, they will respect the need for structure and rules. If you have waited until your kids are older to set the rules, you’re going to have a much more difficult time getting them to go along with the rules.
Even defiant teenagers crave structure and it’s your place to provide it
Setting boundaries, making rules, and enforcing the consequences of breaking those rules is perhaps one of the hardest parts of being the parent of a troubled teenager. These teenage years are perhaps some of the toughest and most critical years of any child’s life. No matter how hard it seems to be, parents must never give up their responsibility.
Remember, this troubled teenager is going to be an adult out in the world someday. What sort of adult would you like them to be? It’s really all up to the parents. The world is full of boundaries and expected behaviours. Teenagers need to learn this lesson early on in order to develop a strong respect for boundaries, and a keen sense of discipline. These qualities must be taught by the parents.
A positive approach to rules, discipline, and defiant teenagers
Even the most contentious times in raising your kids can be used in a positive way to teach children discipline. Parents do not have the luxury of getting angry or being unreasonably upset at their kids. Unless, of course, they want their kids to turn out just like themselves. That could be a good thing or a bad thing.
I had a good friend tell me once that my own kids will develop and exhibit my own worst traits, only they will be magnified several times over. Thankfully he was wrong! But, I can see my own teenage qualities coming into view. That’s actually a good thing because I can understand them, and what they’re going through a little better. I contend that keeping a positive attitude and never, never, never giving up is a good description of a successful parent.
Are you feeling overwhelmed at the thought of parenting a rebellious or problem teen child? Tired of your life and home being a source of turmoil and chaos? It’s time to take control and stop letting your troubled teen affect your family and the lives of those around you. This is the day to take control of your situation and start down the road to resolve some of the issues that are causing your teen to follow a destructive path.
Parenting is never easy, and parenting teens is even more difficult. Teen children are naturally going to be rebellious, but that doesn’t mean that anger, violent outbursts, or any destructive type of behaviour should be tolerated. You are the parent and thus responsible for analyzing, addressing, approaching, and resolving the issues that may be causing your teen to act out in negative ways.
Take a Closer Look at Your Teens Behaviour
If a parent wants to solve a problem in the life of a teen child, the first step should be to step back and observe the situation as closely as possible. Analyze a teen’s behaviour, what they do at school, where they go with friends, how they interact with other family members. Take special note of what happens immediately before and after a particular incident of negative behaviour. Also, notice of the consequences after a particular negative behaviour, if any.
Start to make notes about what happened before the negative behaviour started, what happens during the incident involving the negative behaviour, and how did you react to this negative behaviour. After you do this a few times, pattern will begin to emerge. In many incidents like this, a troubled teen is not being held accountable, or rules are simply not being enforced. Sometimes the problem behaviour will end with the teen getting what they want. These are the reasons this negative behaviour continues.
Step Up, Stand Firm, Enforce Rules
I never said it was going to be easy. Parenting teens is hard, especially when it comes to trying to establish a new direction when you have let them get by with so much up to this point. Be strong, buckaroo. Most teens think that if they argue with you long enough, you’ll give in first and they will get their way. Big mistake. The first few times you stand firm are going to be met with all the resistance your teen can muster, but if you remain firm and hold that line, in a few days, you’ll start to see a change. Refuse to argue or “reason” with your teen.
Be Consistent When Enforcing the Rules
Set the boundaries, make the new rules, communicate them to your teen, and make sure they understand there will be consequences for violating the new rules. If the new rule is no computer or Internet after 10 p.m., set up a consequence for breaking the rule like restricting access to the computer for a period of time, perhaps a day. The most important things here are consistency and follow-through. Don’t ever make a rule that you’re not willing to enforce a consequence. If you back down, your teen will see this as a victory and any hope of setting rules in the future will be even more difficult if not impossible.
Reinforce Positive Behaviour
Be sure to praise or thank your teen child when they follow the rules, or when they do anything that is considered above and beyond what is expected of them. When they clean up their room without being asked, make sure you pour on the appropriate praise and gratitude. Tell them how much you appreciate their help, even if they grumble about doing it.
Responsible Behaviour is Rewarded
When possible, reward your teen with something for following the rules. For example, if your teen is in on or before the established curfew, reward them by extending the curfew and allowing them to come in a bit later. If they show exceptional behaviour and responsibility when driving the car, reward them by allowing more access.
Handling problem teens is difficult at first, but it’s really a very simple formula. Make reasonable rules, communicate your intentions to stand firm, actually stand firm, and make sure violations are met with consequences. Most troubled teens will respond to this sort of approach. However, if you have a troubled teen who may be especially difficult, you may need to seek the help of a professional.
Stress the importance of balance
Teens often get too serious too fast, some even becoming obsessive. Talk to your teen about the importance of finding balance. If you feel your teen is getting too involved in their relationship, set limits on telephone calls, internet time or personal contact. Instead, make suggestions for family activities or group events for your teen and his/her friends. It’s not healthy for anyone, especially a teen, to be completely consumed by their relationship.
Set some ground rules
Before your teen starts dating, talk about what you feel are appropriate dating rules. At what age can they date alone? Are group dates allowed? Do you want to meet the person several times before your teen goes out on a date? Share your thoughts with your teen or tween about moral values and respect. Once your teen starts dating, stick with your dating rules — especially concerning things such as curfew times, telephone and text limits, school expectations, dating costs and gift giving limits. Also outline any consequences for breaking rules and boundaries, as well as any ways your teen can earn your trust and get fewer limitations.
Talk about sex
Talk with your teen about sex on a regular basis. You shouldn’t just instill fear about STDs and pregnancy (though they are obviously important to avoid). You should also talk to your kids about the importance of maturity and being emotionally ready to handle sex. Though you can’t completely control whether your teen is going to start having sex, having an open dialogue about the topic is important. Emphasize that no subject is too embarrassing to discuss and that you will be open to talking about even the most uncomfortable situations that arise.
Try not to judge
You can’t pick who your kids fall in love with — even if it’s only a temporary infatuation. Though you want to avoid your teen being involved with criminals, abusers and drug addicts, beyond that you can’t control whether your daughter’s date is the most scholastic or from the best family. Respect your son or daughter’s feelings and get to know your teen’s boyfriend or girlfriend. As long as you have raise your children with respect and values, things should be fine.
Be prepared for the break-up
One of the hardest things for teens when it comes to romance is the first real break-up. Be prepared to help your teen through it. Don’t ridicule or make light of the situation. Just be there for your teen in any way you can as he/she picks up the pieces.