Monday, March 26, 2012

Be A Parent First, the Friendship Comes Later.

Hello GITK family,
This week I want to send a special message to our parents.  I have been inundated with questions from parents on how to properly discipline their teen and maintain the parent/child boundary.  I will share a few email concerns from some of my parents.  Hopefully you can use this information to foster a healthy relationship with your teen. 

"My daughter is a pretty good person.  She used to come home from her friends' parties a little tipsy.  I have tried to get her to stop drinking but she's 17 and I can't really lock her in her room.  So instead of her going out with her friends, I have decided to let her closest girlfriends spend the night while I supply a few alcoholic drinks for them.  At least that way I know they are safe."

Allowing your teen to drink alcohol or do drugs is never safe.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard this line from a concerned parent.  It may sound like the safe thing to do but supplying alcohol for minors is illegal.  It does not foster "closeness" between you and your child.  Bending the rules for your teen ultimately gives them a "green light" to disregard your rules and the law.   It is important for parents to recognize they are responsible and punishable by law should something happen to your child or their friends under your supervision. 

"I have a friend who often brings her daughter along with us while running errands.  The daughter often jumps into our conversation to give her two cents with very little knowledge of what we are actually talking about.  What should I do in this situation?"

Place limits on your conversations in front of your teen.  Open communication in families is great but there is a proper time to include teens in adult conversations.  I remember a time when we were sent out to play or "go do something" while adults were conversing.  I understand catching up with friends and family is important but adults have to be careful of  their conversation choices especially if children are around. Some people think of teenagers as young adults so they tend to speak more freely around teens but always remember: Teens are still children. 

"My son has been coming home with D's and F's in school.  His mother and I don't want to be too strict on him like our parents were.  We try to get him to finish his chores and homework but he's usually too tired after basketball practice."

Discipline is not mean it's necessary.  For every action there is a consequence.  Some consequences are rewarding while others are more restricting.  As parents it's our job to teach children early on that there are consequences to not obeying the rules.  This young man obviously needs to be restricted from playing sports and other social activities if he is not responsible enough to finish the more important tasks like homework and chores.  If your teen is not performing well at school or in the home, they should not be allowed to continue "life as usual" without some form of disciplinary action being taken.  Here are some tips:
   - limit FB/Twitter time
   - a cellphone has the same capabilities as a computer, take the cellphone from the teen- (I promise you they won't die.)
    - find out what they enjoy the most and limit their participation in this activity
    - restrict activities for a short time- no longer than a month

Your Teen is NOT your friend. 
It's alright to be friendly and share moments and hard times with your teen but remember, teens have adult bodies with adolescent minds.  Even the most independent teenager is still a kid at heart, so we as adults have to be cautious of how included we allow them to be.


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