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5 Ways to Better Parent Your Teen

Glenda Gabriel is a Family Mentor with over 20 years of experience working with parents of troubled teens find answers and resources needed to heal their family.


Core Solutions specializes in at-risk teen placement and teen treatment options.

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5 Ways to Better Parent Your Teen

By Glenda Gabriel

Core Solutions

For parents experiencing teen behavior problems, the stakes on knowing the right things to do can suddenly become very high.  That learning curve for parents of difficult teens must accelerate rapidly. Passivity or denial is gambling with your teen’s future. Be present in your teen’s life and balance it with what is real.

The most trusting parents are the most gullible. It’s a parent’s job to be a kid’s parent, not their friend. Parents who pride themselves in completely trusting their teen are in a dangerous denial-zone and setting up of an almost irresistible scenario to be taken advantage of by their teen. Being gullible puts your teen at risk.

Don't think your child is too young to be exposed to drugs. The most common drug of choice for teens is alcohol. Nearly 50% of US students 12-17, drink alcohol on a monthly basis. According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action, about 40% of adults who started drinking before age 15 say they have the signs of alcohol dependence. That rate is four times higher than for adults who didn’t drink until they were age 21. What can parents do? Lock your liquor cabinet and do random inventory checks. Any consumed clear alcohol can easily be replaced with water. Hint: Put it in the freezer. If it freezes, it’s water.

Trust with Trust Verified. Trust is earned, not given. A diligent parent is aware of what’s going on in their teen’s life. That includes what’s in their pockets, purses, backpacks, wallets and closets. Don’t forget to check the inside pockets of clothes seldom worn. You can ask for permission, but in order for it to be effective it should be an on-the-spot check.   If your rebellious teen gets mad, maybe it’s because they have something to hide. The other place that needs to be checked is their bedroom. Some favorite hiding places are under mattresses, dressers, cabinets, sinks, and attached to the back of the drawers.

Consider Where Teens Get their Drugs. Kids network, much like adults do. They connect with friends who know someone, and so on. Places kids typically frequent like fast-food restaurants, convenience stores, movie theaters or the mall are common meeting grounds. So remain in-tune. Verify your teen’s plans. Know who their friends are or if their group of friends change. But your home can be a target too with over-the-counter medicines and prescribed drugs from your own bathroom cabinet.

Open-door Policy.  Can your teen count on you to not go ballistic if they tell you things you may not want to hear? Remain calm and watch the tone of your voice. Yelling simply does not work. If you need some time out because they’ve upset you, tell them that. But do not give them the silent treatment. Do things together as a family, as well as one-on-one. Those times can foster good conversations.

Teens need structure and boundaries to navigate the treacherous waters of their teenage years. It is the parent’s responsibility to provide clear and consistent ground rules and consequences. Be a proactive parent by monitoring, being aware and creating a home environment that provides both support and safety for your child. Studies confirm that teens rely on adults in their lives more than anyone else to help them make tough decisions, model good choices and to provide good advice.

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