Parents of kids entering their teens suddenly find themselves with a different set of concerns than they had just a year or two ago. Teens can be incredibly naive and trusting which can put them at risk while dating, socializing, etc. In addition, the possibility of recreational substance abuse can contribute to some dangerous behavior.
Pattie Fitzgerald, a certified child safety educator says, “Teens want to feel like they’ve got it under control, so when parents bark orders at them about safety, dating, relationships, most teens will tune it out. Yet they are an incredibly vulnerable group often because they’re own judgment is clouded by peer pressure and a false sense of bravado.”
Today’s teens are faced with complex issues and problems many parents aren’t prepared to deal with. In addition to substance abuse and sexuality issues, teens today deal with pressures involving socializing issues, Internet safety, and even cyber-bullying.
So how do you get the important information across and still keep the peace with your teens? Here are a few of Fitzgerald’s suggestions:
- Parents need to ask questions of their teens and then LISTEN to their answers.
- Remember not to overreact when you hear something you don’t agree with. Share your worries or concerns without sounding accusatory.
- Do set limits with your teens . . . they still need to feel like there are safety nets in place for them.
- Thank them for when they do share personal information so they are likely to continue to do so.
- Do talk to them about drugs, alcohol, sexual behaviors, and remind them that certain actions can have life long consequences.
- Seek out some good reading material for teens that they can relate to. Books that discuss issues such as dating, drugs or alcohol, sexual issues, and even internet safety in an honest, non-preachy style can open the door to better communication for teens and parents.
- Make sure they know they can come to you even if they feel like they’ve screwed up—they need to know that mom and dad still “have their back.”
- Remind your teens what their goals are, what they may be working toward, whether it’s college, a career, etc. This helps them put things into perspective.
- And parents . . . keep your sense of humor. A little “tongue-in-cheek” advice will be taken in more readily by your teen as opposed to a heavy handed approach.#
Courtesy of Pattie Fitzgerald, a certified child safety educator by the National Security Alliance and member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children and Prevent Child Abuse.org. For more information, visit www.SafelyEverAfter.com.