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Posts Tagged ‘parenting teens’


Teenagers and STDs – The Ugly Truth Friday, May 28th, 2010

As a parent, you probably dread having “the talk” with your teen; if you’ve already gotten that awkward parenting item out of the way, have you talked with your teenager about STDs? If you haven’t – you should.

Much as you might want to stick your fingers in your ears and go “lalalalala”, the facts are standing right in front of you with their hands on their hips, tapping their foot and waiting for you to grow up and pay attention. Take your fingers out of your ears and listen up.

Every year, the Centers for Disease Control receive reports on 19 MILLION cases of sexually transmitted diseases each year. Nearly half – that’s about 9 million cases – occur in people between the ages of 15 and 24. Like it or not, if your teen is, or becomes, sexually active, they are at risk, and its up to you as the parent to give them the information they need to keep themselves healthy.

Untreated, an STD can lead to severe consequences – consequences that can last a lifetime. Consequences ranging from infertility to lifetime dysfunction can result from sexually transmitted diseases, and that’s from the ones that can be cured. Some STDs are incurable; even though treatment can improve quality of life, they will always be infected with the disease itself. Your teenager needs to understand this.

Abstinence is, and always will be, the best way to prevent catching an STD. Let your teen know that being sexually active is a big responsibility, and that it’s ok to choose NOT to be active at this time in his or her life. Most sexually active teens say that they wish they’d chosen to wait longer before taking that step; be sure that they can rely on your support in choosing that option. Let them know, too, that, if they’ve already been active, they can choose to stop having sex. Just because you’ve done it before doesn’t mean you have to continue.

However, don’t be blind to the fact that your teenager might already be sexually active, or may become that way. Teach them about safe sex practices; yes, it’s going to be awkward, but you’d rather have them embarrassed than infected with something like chlamydia or gonorrhea.

No matter what, be sure that your teenager understands that they can come to you, whatever their questions or concerns about this delicate subject, and that you’ll give them clear, honest answers to their questions. More than anything else, your teen needs to know that you love them, no matter what.


My Kid Seems to Hate Me – Now What? Monday, May 10th, 2010

Ah, the honeymoon days of childhood, when your child thinks that there’s nothing you can’t do and nothing you don’t know. You’re her biggest hero, and all is well with the world.

Then the teenage years arrive.

Now, your kid thinks that you’re dumber than dirt and grew up in the stone age. You can’t do anything right, you don’t know anything about anything, and the soil outside in the garden has more seeming worth in her eyes than you do. What happened, and what do you do now?

As strange as it may seem, you have seen this before. Remember the “terrible twos”, when every suggestion you made was met with a shouted “NO!”? Psychologically, this is pretty much the same thing; your child is exercising her independence of thought. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be difficult to deal with.

Try and remember that this is a normal, integral part of growing up. At this point in their lives, teens are beginning the process of separating from their parents and family, and developing their own individuality. They’re not rejecting you, even though it appears that way. They’re striking out on the path of finding their own identities. They’re putting the bricks and mortar into the foundation of their “self”.

Even though it appears as though your children are rejecting you, whatever you do, don’t reject them in return. They need to internalize the fact that you love them, and you love the person they’re becoming, even if the growing pains are hard on you as well as them. Deep inside, your teen knows that he or she still needs you. They might die before admitting it aloud, but they know it just the same. Rejecting or abandoning them now will just teach them that they’re unlovable, and they’ll start building walls instead of foundations.

However – if you child gets truly nasty with you, don’t hesitate to correct that bad behavior. Just because they don’t agree with you – and that’s probably a given – they don’t have the right to treat you with disrespect, curse at you, or become antagonistic. Manners are manners, and they’ll need them later in life, just as they will a healthy self-respect. Remember Thumper’s Mom? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? Not a bad tenant to teach your child. They’ll thank you for that one later.

Whatever the teenager dishes out, do your best to weather the storms. Stay calm, and hold to the mantra that “this, too, shall pass”. It really will, and you’ll find that your teen has developed into someone you can be proud of.


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.


Conflict is Inevitable Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

image Conflict is InevitableWhat is your immediate response to conflict? Do you wish it didn’t exist or could be eliminated from life completely? Do you always back off and do nothing in a quest for and a belief in ‘anything for a quiet life’?

So if conflict is inevitable what are some of the keys to dealing with it effectively?

  1. Don’t attack the person, rather challenge the behaviour. A young person can cope with you saying they can do better, can turn that C grade into a B grade, that B into an A, but they can’t handle you saying how they’re no good, they’re stupid and they’re a failure. They will begin to believe it for themselves and fall into the classic self-fulfilling prophecies.
  2. Stick to the issue that is current. Don’t drag into the argument all the other times when you have felt let down.
  3. Remember the power of the tongue. The Bible likens it to the power of a rudder to steer a ship – a small thing but with huge impact. Your words could affect their lives [sounds dramatic but its true]
  4. Remember the power of sorry. The silliest statement to come out of Hollywood was, ‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ On the contrary, love means always having to say you’re sorry.
  5. Recognise the ‘inner lawyer’ who always fights your corner. If you have set down family principles, or if there are group rules before the teenage years, these will be working for you during adolescence.
  6. Remember the power of forgiveness. We have all been forgiven at one time or other and know how good it feels to be restored.

Whatever your desires, unfortunately it is not good for you or the teenager to avoid conflict at all costs. You may want the quiet life but you could end up doing more harm than good. The consequences could be more negative and far reaching than dealing with the issue:

  • It may stop the relationship from deepening and developing.
  • It may stop them from facing problems and dealing with them in an effective way.
  • It may allow them to manipulate us through our giving-in.
  • It may damage your self-esteem as parents, or just as people.

Finally, experts used to talk in terms of “conflict resolution” – finding an end to conflict. They have changed their vocabulary to “conflict management” recognising that conflict isn’t about to go away so it is better to learn how to manage it and its effects.

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