It is incredibly difficult to parent teens.  Adolescence is a period of dramatic change and growth as youth work to separate their identities from their parents and define themselves independently.  Consequently, it is a difficult period for all involved – the physical, emotional, moral and social growth that young people experience as they mature often makes for rocky, turbulent times for their family and friends, as well as the young person themselves.   But, as youth grow into the individuals they will become as adults, they are also often idealistic, energetic, and thoughtful, often deeply interested in what is right and wrong, and passionate and invested in what they believe in. Encouraging those strengths and being aware of and supportive through those changes is important for youth to mature into adulthood whilst feeling supported and cared for.

We would like to share a few ideas and tips to help parents of teenagers support their teenagers to grow into independent, responsible, communicative young adults.

We’re not parenting experts.  We’ve survived adolescence ourselves (perhaps with a few bumps along the way), some of us have parented teens, and we read – lots – about adolescent development and parenting.  But you, as a parent, know your teen far better than we do.  These are just ideas to think about as you consider how you raise your teen.

These tips came from KidsHeath.org

Butting Heads

One of the common stereotypes of adolescence is the rebellious, wild teen continually at odds with Mom and Dad. Although it may be the case for some kids and this is a time of emotional ups and downs, that stereotype certainly is not representative of most teens.

But the primary goal of the teen years is to achieve independence. For this to occur, teens will start pulling away from their parents — especially the parent whom they’re the closest to. This can come across as teens always seeming to have different opinions than their parents or not wanting to be around their parents in the same way they used to.

As teens mature, they start to think more abstractly and rationally. They’re forming their moral code. And parents of teens may find that kids who previously had been willing to conform to please them will suddenly begin asserting themselves — and their opinions — strongly and rebelling against parental control.

You may need to look closely at how much room you give your teen to be an individual and ask yourself questions such as: “Am I a controlling parent?,” “Do I listen to my child?,” and “Do I allow my child’s opinions and tastes to differ from my own?”

Pick Your Battles

If teenagers want to dye their hair, paint their fingernails black, or wear funky clothes, think twice before you object. Teens want to shock their parents and it’s a lot better to let them do something temporary and harmless; leave the objections to things that really matter, like tobacco, drugs and alcohol, or permanent changes to their appearance.

Ask why your teen wants to dress or look a certain way and try to understand how your teen is feeling. You might also want to discuss how others might perceive them if they look different — help your teen understand how he or she might be viewed.

Know the Warning Signs

A certain amount of change may be normal during the teen years, but too drastic or long-lasting a switch in personality or behavior may signal real trouble — the kind that needs professional help. Watch for one or more of these warning signs:

  • extreme weight gain or loss
  • sleep problems
  • rapid, drastic changes in personality
  • sudden change in friends
  • skipping school continually
  • falling grades
  • talk or even jokes about suicide
  • signs of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use
  • run-ins with the law

Any other inappropriate behavior that lasts for more than 6 weeks can be a sign of underlying trouble, too. You may expect a glitch or two in your teen’s behavior or grades during this time, but your A/B student shouldn’t suddenly be failing, and your normally outgoing kid shouldn’t suddenly become constantly withdrawn. Your doctor or a local counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help you find proper counseling.

Respect Kids’ Privacy

Some parents, understandably, have a very hard time with this one. They may feel that anything their kids do is their business. But to help your teen become a young adult, you’ll need to grant some privacy. If you notice warning signs of trouble, then you can invade your child’s privacy until you get to the heart of the problem. But otherwise, it’s a good idea to back off.

In other words, your teenager’s room, texts, e-mails, and phone calls should be private. You also shouldn’t expect your teen to share all thoughts or activities with you at all times. Of course, for safety reasons, you should always know where teens are going, when they’ll be returning, what they’re doing, and with whom, but you don’t need to know every detail. And you definitely shouldn’t expect to be invited along!

Start with trust. Let your teen know that you trust him or her. But, if the trust gets broken he or she may enjoy fewer freedoms until the trust is rebuilt.