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help parenting a teen?
parents of teens confuse their parenting role with that of friend. In so doing,
they abdicate their parental authority and minimize their ability to provide
direction, guidance, limits and structure.
such cases parents may feel their teenaged son or daughter must like them. The
parent may be looking to their son or daughter for approval when it should be
the other way around. When teenagers are, in a sense, in charge of the
parent’s emotional needs, this power is beyond their ability to handle
responsibly. This is when their son or daughter has the parents most held
teenager, with their parent’s emotional needs in their hands, may work against
the parent and extort unreasonable privileges. These teens may look to drink
underage; have parties; surf the Internet for pornography. Some teenagers will
demonstrate little self-control. If the parent objects, the teen winds up
admonishing the parent and then the parent caves, not wanting to lose their
teen’s approval. Some situations escalate to the point where teens find
themselves in trouble with the law. Here too parents may cover for their
misdeeds, pay off their teens debts; even paying off bookies and drug dealers.
who seek their teen’s approval must come to realize, they cannot rely on their
son or daughter’s to meet their own emotional needs. Parenting is a verb, an
action word. It implies parents do something with regard to their children. The it
that parents do is provide direction, guidance, limits and structure.
teens may not like this is not unusual. Teens are struggling towards
independence. Parents are monitoring and modulating their independence in
accordance with the teen’s actual ability to handle independence responsibly.
If the tasks of adolescence are not handled responsibly, e.g. school, part-time
job, chores, etc., then the parent must step in correctively. In so doing,
parents must resist their son or daughter’s disapproval and hold firm with
expectations of school attendance, reasonable behaviour and restrictions on
alcohol or drug use and the like.
is generally not realistic to be a friend and a parent at the same time. This
doesn’t mean parents are not friendly in carrying out their role as parents,
but the objective is not to be a friend to their son or daughter. The objective
is to have a clear parental boundary and provide the direction, guidance, limits
and structure necessary to keep teens on track. The goal is to raise teens into
healthy, law abiding, capable and contributing adults with good morals.
some parents argue that peers have more influence over teens than parents, this
is usually only the case where parents have abdicated their authority and tried
to be their son or daughter’s friend, versus parent.
you, as a parent, are having difficulty maintaining a parenting role or if you
find yourself held hostage, needing your son or daughter’s approval and cannot
provide the direction, guidance, limits and structure necessary to keep teens on
track, then consider counselling – not for your teen, but for yourself.
is to help the parent understand their own needs and to separate their needs
from those of their teens such that they can regain appropriate parental
authority and regain influence greater than their teen’s peers.
Counsellors will rarely have more influence than a parent. It is better to help the parent than the attempt to be of greater influence to someone else’s child. As parents take action, teens tend to respond more respectfully with time. Then a positive and appropriate parent-teen relationship is restored.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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