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How can I help my ADDICTED TEEN?
Will being ADOPTED make adolescence harder for my child?
How can I deal with the ANGER
in our family?
Is my teen's BEHAVIOR just normal teenage rebellion?
What do parents and teachers need to know about BULLYING?
What is EMOTIONAL ABUSE?
How can I help my OVERWEIGHT daughter?
Help! My teen is a RUNAWAY!
My teen is cutting. What do I need to know about SELF-INJURY?
What is 'normal' teen SEXUAL BEHAVIOR and what is cause for concern?
Where can I find a reliable ALCOHOL & DRUG TESTING KIT?
What makes a STRONG FAMILY?
Connection, Monitoring, Autonomy
There are three major areas that are crucial to the parent-teen relationship -- connection, monitoring, and psychological autonomy.
First, a sense of connection between a teenager and parent provides a backdrop against which all other interaction takes place. If the parent-child connection is consistent, positive, and characterized by warmth, kindness, love, and stability, children are more likely to flourish socially. Adolescents who describe their relationship with their parents as warm, kind, and consistent are more likely to initiate social interaction with other adolescents and with other adults. They are more likely to respond to others positively and with greater empathy. They are more likely to be self-confident in their relationships with others, and to be more cooperative with others. Also, teens with these kinds of positive relationships with their parents on the whole struggle less with depression, and have higher self-esteem. Relationships characterized by kindness and devoid of unkind words or acts appear to be important to healthy adolescent development.
In addition to the sense of connection between parent and teenager, the monitoring process is crucial to successful parenting. Teenagers who report that their parents take a genuine interest in their activities are more likely to avoid trouble. Teens whose parents know who their friends are and what they do in their free time are less likely to get into trouble than their peers. In the context of a warm, kind relationship, parental monitoring of teen activities comes across as caring rather than intrusive. Teenagers whose parents monitor them are more likely to avoid activities like lying, cheating, stealing, and using alcohol and illegal drugs. Parental monitoring of adolescent behavior inhibits not only the opportunity for delinquent activity, but negative peer pressure to be involved in such activity as well.
Finally, parents need to encourage the development of psychological autonomy in their teenage children. Psychological autonomy is nurtured in children when parents genuinely respect their teen's ideas, even when the ideas are contrary to their own. Encouraging independent thinking and the expression of original ideas and beliefs, validating feelings, and expressing unconditional love are ways to nurture psychological autonomy. The opposite of psychological autonomy is psychological control, which is characterized by changing the subject, making personal attacks, withdrawing love, or inducing guilt to constrain intellectual, emotional, or psychological expression by the adolescent that is incongruent with the parent's way of thinking. Adolescents who report that their parents are likely to use techniques associated with psychological control are more apt to struggle with depression and to exhibit anti-social behavior.
The combination of connection, monitoring, and psychological autonomy may sound simple, but the simplicity of the directions can be frustrating to navigators when they are lost. Translating general ideas into specific behaviors, and then into patterns of interaction can be a challenge, especially if one or both parties are already entrenched in less productive patterns of interaction. The task of establishing a warm, caring, positive, relationship characterized by kindness with a teenager whose favorite phrases are "you just don't understand" and "leave me alone" can be daunting.
While it is true that one of the main developmental tasks of adolescence is to separate from parents, and that peer influence takes on greater and greater importance during teen years, there is still no substitute for the parent-teen relationship.
It's important to spend time with teenagers.
Parents who wish to enhance their connection with their teenager often find that choosing leisure activities wisely can do much to further the cause. In addition to the opportunity to spend time together amiably, engaging teenagers in fun activities that foster sportsmanship, service, creativity, intellectual development, etiquette, honesty, and respect for each other brings all of those aspects into the parent-child relationship, providing an enjoyable forum for both teenagers and parents to practice those skills with one another.
Engaging in recreational activities with teenagers is a way to connect regularly in a pleasant setting. Regular, positive interaction is crucial if discipline is to be effective. When the parent/child relationship is built on a foundation of warmth and kindness, it can withstand the unpleasantness of discipline. Parties to relationships void of such a foundation often either disengage or become conflicted in the face of the uncomfortable consequences imposed by discipline.
Spending leisure time together also gives parents a leg-up on the monitoring process. First, it cuts down on the amount of free time kids spend without supervision. Second, discussions about friends and other leisure activities tend to come up easily, and can be discussed in a relaxed atmosphere. Often, parents get a chance to know their teenager's friends through recreational activities, either by attending school or team performances in which their child is involved with friends, or by allowing a child to invite a friend along on a family outing.
NEXT: Rules & Boundaries
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by John Townsend
To help teenagers grow into healthy adults, parents and youth workers need to teach them how to take responsibility for their behavior, their values, and their lives. Dr. Townsend gives important keys for establishing healthy boundaries --- the bedrock of good relationships, maturity, safety, and growth for teens and the adults in their lives. Boundaries with Teens offers help in raising teens to take responsibility for their actions, attitudes, and emotions.
Autonomy vs. Parental Control ~ Advice to parents about how to deal with autonomy in adolescents.
Family Routines and Rituals May Improve Family Relationships and Health ~ According to this 50-year research review, family routines and rituals are associated with marital satisfaction, adolescents' sense of personal identity, children's health, academic achievement and stronger family relationships.
Firm parents keep teen drivers safe ~ Parents who give rules, set boundaries and monitor those boundaries with warmth and support can have a dramatic positive effect on teen driving safety.
For Parents Concerned About Their Teens ~ Monitoring is an effective way you can help your teen or tween stay drug-free, and an important thing to do — even if you don't suspect your teen is using drugs.
Fostering Autonomy in Adolescents: A Model of Cognitive Autonomy and Self-Evaluation (pdf) ~ This paper examines critical factors associated with a model of cognitive autonomy suggesting the ability to think for one's self and its potential for application and intervention.
Keeping Your Cool When Parenting Teens ~ The most difficult thing about monitoring a teen is maintaining the balance between too much and too little control. Just as it requires setting firm limits when it would be easier to let things slide, it also requires parents to be continually vigilant to ensure they know where their children are and what they're doing.
Parenting Style and Its Correlates ~ This digest defines parenting style, explores four types, and discusses the consequences of the different styles for children.
Raising Teens: A Synthesis of Research and a Foundation for Action ~ Research on parenting teens that include a set of Five Basics of Parenting Adolescents, with a list of strategies for each. Also featured is a list of Ten Tasks of Adolescence, which delineates the main aspects of adolescent development.
Unconditional Love: The First Foundation Stone of Proactive Parenting ~ Ross Campbell writes that the foundation of a genuinely meaningful relationship with a child is unconditional love, for only this will nurture a child emotionally and spiritually. Only unconditional love can ensure that a child will not be plagued with immature anger, resentment, guilt, depression, anxiety, and insecurity. For only unconditional love places the needs of the child first.
What is the Goal of Your Parenting? ~ Character growth is the mail goal of parenting.
What's Your Parenting Style? ~ Parenting style is one of the primary determinants of your child’s outcome whether he succeeds, achieves, meets the challenges, flounders, gives up, or runs from or fails in handling life.
© 2008 Focusas.com