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Your Kids Don’t Need More Friends – They Need Parents! Saturday, May 8th, 2010

As a person, it’s natural to want those who are closest to you to like you. As a parent, that’s a feeling you need to get over. Your teenagers have plenty of friends. What they need are parents.

Teenagers are at the most difficult point in their lives. They’re not ready to strike out on their own, and yet everything in them is screaming for independence. They need rules, boundaries and limitations more than ever, and they’ll never fight them so hard as they will during the teenage years. It takes nerves of steel to be a teenager’s parent. Let’s take a closer look at why.

Teens are dealing with more social pressures forcing themselves into their barely formed sense of self than at any other time in their lives. They have an almost pathological need to be liked, to be popular, because therein lies the key to their sense of well being and worth; after all, if other people like me, I must be worth liking, correct? While this is natural for them, it isn’t the safest place to gain self-esteem. It’s not deep, and it’s based on the affirmations of people just as insecure as they are! These friendships are very important, yes, but without the guidance and, occasionally, restraint of a parent, they can lead into some very murky waters indeed. Teens need to make their own mistakes, but they shouldn’t have to lead to life-long consequences. It’s up to the parent to give them enough room to fail – and provide a safe place to fall when they do.

Your teens aren’t going to like you for doing this; not right now. They’re going to rail against the “unfair” restrictions and “strict” limitations you put on them. Remember – they’ve got friends. They need you to be strong and firm here, even if they don’t realize it. And – they don’t. They want more freedoms than they’re capable of handling at this impressionable age. It’s up to you to decide what the limit is, and then to hold the line.

Ultimately, when your teenager grows into a self-assured adult, they’ll realize that the limitations you placed on them “way back when” really were for their own good, and gave them a safe place to learn, to grow, and even to push back. You might even be surprised when they thank you for giving them that soft place to land when they fell.

And the best part? You can be friends with your adult children. After all – the hard work is done; at least until the grandchildren show up.

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