All throughout school what I saw on the news led me to believe the only answer to the big questions I had at the time was to just say “NO”. But, as a teen you’re naturally rebellious and you’re inquisitive about the world around you. When you hear “no” it only makes you want to try it even more despite the consequences.
Parents seem to have the same approach because their parents were hardened individuals. Times have changed, however, because we aren’t living in a post-depression/war era. There is an unlimited amount of information to be found on the web, through peers, and entertainment outlets so it’s natural that these thoughts, vices, and experiences will be explored.
Without a doubt you’ll find your teen struggling during their impressionable years due to peer pressure, societal pressure, and internal conflict. You may not be able to keep them on a straight path (and in a lot of ways you really shouldn’t so they can learn from their mistakes) but you can offer guidance in some of the key areas that affect their lives, such as:
- Substance abuse
For me, personally, I found that parents sitting down and talking about the consequences of actions prevented me from making stupid mistakes more than a flat-out no, which might have driven me to do those things.
I’d like to share some of that wisdom I gained from my flexible parents, which I think could stick well with your teen:
- A)On the topic of substance abuse, it’s a flip of a coin because teens want to experiment. A hard “no” is going to make them wonder what all the fuss is about and can cause them to seek it further. Instead, learn about the effects of substances and sit down with them to tell them the real consequences. Tell them how it not only hurts their body but the emotional well-being of those around them. If the abuse has gone too far already, don’t send them off to a youth camp; rather, consider substance abuse rehab for young adults so they can be around peers who are taking on the same challenges. The help provided at these facilities will set them straight because they have the experience and resources to deal with a complex psychological condition.
- B) On the topic of education it’s a tough one because your teen may be learning concepts that go way over your head. They are going to be frustrated when they can’t solve problems let alone decide where they want to go later in life with their jobs and careers. Your best bet is to help them by providing tools & resources such as online or in-house tutoring or simply encourage them to take up clubs or some form of activity/hobby/project that incorporates the subject to make it enjoyable. Saying “no” when they ask for help isn’t going to do them any good; even if you can’t directly help you can guide them to the appropriate help so they become enthusiastic about learning.
- C)On the topic of sex & dating it’s absolutely important that you teach them safe sex rather than abstinence only because the later hasn’t been very effective (see this graph). Teens willbecome active and it’s better they know how to protect themselves, where to purchase the items, and what to do in the event they do have sex.
- D) On the topic of finances you really need to start that early on because once they reach 18 they will begin receiving a lot of financial responsibilities and offers from credit card companies. If your teen doesn’t understand the value of money nor how to properly budget they are likely to begin a long process of financial instability. Try to avoid saying “no” when they ask personal finance questions because they’re telling you they’re ready to take on responsibility; education is what will empower your teen so they won’t start their adult life on shaky grounds.
It may be engrained to be steadfast with the requests from your teen because they often act out and get into trouble but remember that you, too, were young at one time and wanted to rebel and explore. Remember what your parents said (which was probably no, a lot). Become a flexible parent that gives them their freedom and educates them on the consequences because this will create the respect in them to never hurt you (or themselves).
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