There is no question that in today’s society our teens face tough issues. If we communicate our love and expectations consistently and frequently, we can help our teens face anything.
My wife and I have faced the following tough issues with our 14-year-old son.
We’ve found that the best approach to handling this is to have frequent, open communication about my son’s usage of the internet. There’s more to cybersafety than just worrying about predators. Making bad choices while using the internet can not only impact a child’s social life in high school, but can have future ramifications as well. My wife and I have had great success with requiring the passwords to all of our son’s accounts. Knowing we can look at his posts or emails makes him think twice about what he does. Here’s a short list of cybersafety tips from the Mayo Clinic:
- Don’t share personal information online.
- Don’t share passwords.
- Don’t get together with someone you meet online.
- Don’t use texts or other tools to gossip, bully or damage someone’s reputation.
- Don’t text or chat on the phone while driving.
- Don’t plagiarize.
- Talk to a parent or trusted adult if an interaction or message makes you uncomfortable.
Video game addiction
After going through this with my son, I’m convinced that video game addiction for teens can be just as powerful as an adult gambling addiction. My wife and I had be consistent and fair in setting limits while offering alternative hobbies or getting him out of the house during “off game” periods. In the beginning we enlisted the help of a trained therapist for guidance; she was extremely helpful. If you’re wondering whether your child may have this problem, the following site may help you decide: Video Game Addiction Questionnaire.
I’m sure that approaching the dating issue with a daughter is much different than a son. We’ve had a series of casual talks with our son about dating and the responsibility that goes along with it. We have clearly expressed all of our moral values and live by those values ourselves to set an example. He has had a girlfriend already and throughout the relationship we kept the communication lines open with him as well as his girlfriend’s parents.
Dealing with conflict
The most important thing I’ve learned while parenting a teen is that there are times it’s better to bite my tongue. The most appropriate time to reason with my son is when he’s not in an emotional state. If I try to communicate in the midst of a heated exchange, he’ll never hear the words I say. And I’ll probably end up wishing I could take those words back anyway.
Here are additional issues parents of teenagers face:
- Disputes over the teen’s curfew.
- The teen’s choice of friends.
- Spending time with the family versus with peers.
- School and work performance.
- Cars and driving privileges.
- Clothing, hair styles and makeup.
- Self destructive behaviors such as smoking, drinking and using drugs.
- Issues with eating.