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Parenting Adolescents

You are the parent of a teen and it may seem like you are always dealing with rebellion and keeping them out of trouble, but parenting an adolescent can be a wonderful experience. Your child is now on the edge of adulthood and has new ideas and goals for the future.

Adolescence is the stage when your child will experiment in an effort to determine who they really are. A teenager will try on many different personalities and roles at this stage to figure out which one fits best. And often this is very different from what their parent expects of them. To make things more challenging, your child does not have the maturity to understand that bad things can happen to them: they do not understand that they could be hurt, form an addiction, or become pregnant. They do risky things because they think that nothing will go wrong for them.

Parents worry that these risky behaviours will take their child on the wrong path with drugs, alcohol, sex and relationships, or that they will be influenced by poor role models. As each challenge comes up, use it as a way to teach your child how to make good decisions, resolve conflict, and cope with disappointment.
 
Parents will have varying ideas about how to handle teen discipline issues like curfews, house rules and acceptable or unacceptable behaviour. And some families are dealing with much tougher discipline challenges than others.
 
The most important things that parents can do at this stage are:
  • Strengthen the parent-child connection by treating your teen with respect and kindness.
  • Monitor your teen’s activities by knowing what your child is doing in a way that respects their need for privacy and independence.
  • Nurture your teen’s independence by providing a safe and supportive environment so they can practice their decision making.
 
By understanding how an adolescent thinks and feels, parents are better able to respond to the challenging situations in a positive way. When we think that a teen is defying us or trying to make us mad, we are more likely to respond with anger and punishment. But understanding that a teen is doing what they need to do in order to grow into adulthood, makes us more likely to respond with the information and support they need.
 
No parent is perfect. We all make mistakes. We just need to learn from those mistakes and do better next time.
 
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Updated Feb 24, 2016