One thing most teens are struggling with and most parents have questions about is their relationships. How can parents help them have good relationships, choose good friends, resist peer pressure, and not have wrong romantic partners? It's a minefield for parents and something they often feel like they have little control over. These pages will help you with some of these issues.
Adolescence is when most teens, their parents and family become less important than their peer group. This is scary. How cancan parents help kids when they are losing influence? Many parents make the mistake of thinking teens don't need them anymore, far from the truth! They need you more than ever.
However, teens are more concerned with defining themselves according to what their peers are doing and fitting in (or not fitting in if that's the statement they are making). Relationships can be scary and overwhelming, but also comforting, just like they are in adulthood. Teens can get their sense of identity from their friends, but also, their friends have the power to hurt and crush them. Teens are fragile, and their peer relationships are often where they are getting broken.
As adults, parents need to be the ones preparing teens with the skills to manage relationships. Even though parents have less influence, they often spend what little influence they have on the wrong things and in the wrong way. Often parents don't listen to teens, argue and alienate them, and lose what little control they might have. One of the first rules of parenting teens is to work on opening the lines of communication. Teens will shut down if you feel you are judging them. Listening in a nonjudgemental way doesn't mean that you don't discipline them or hold them accountable. However, it just means that you practice the skills of communication that are more likely to foster an open dialog.
No matter what parents tell teens, much of what they learn will always be due to the patterns they observe in their own families. Suppose you are fearful, anxious and controlling, or aggressive and self-centered in your communication and interaction style with your teen. In that case, these patterns will impact how they communicate with people outside of your home. Learn healthy communication styles and practice them in your home. Modeling is one of the most potent ways to influence your teen. Work within your circle of influence instead of focusing on things you can't control.
When parents get worried about their teens and everything that can go wrong for them with romantic and peer relationships, they will often begin to make their decisions based on that fear. When this happens, they focus on the wrong things, become reactive, and miss opportunities to connect and listen to their children. Instead, it is essential to keep the channels of communication open, so you can help your teen navigate those relationships. Instead, focus on helping your teen clarify their values and thoughts about who they are and be true to those values so they can resist things like peer pressure and make good choices about romantic partners.
The complaint I hear from teens most often about their parents is that they don't take their relationships seriously. I believe this is true. To a teen, their friendships or romantic relationship are often the most critical things in their lives. Usually, I hear adults belittle those relationships. They speak to their children as if they feel that those relationships are unimportant or call them "drama." Imagine if you would treat your spouse, friend, or colleagues in this manner if they brought something of importance to you?
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