This article is from the WebMD Feature Archive WebMD archives content after 2 years to ensure our readers can easily find the most timely content. To find the most current parenting teen daughter, please enter your topic of interest into our search box. Your chatterbox son now answers your questions with a sullen “yes” or “no. Your charming daughter won’t go to the store with you at all anymore.
It’s natural — and important — for kids to break away from their parents at this age. This emotional separation allows them to become well-adjusted adults. Yet these must be among the most difficult years for any parent. David Elkind, PhD, author of All Grown Up and No Place to Go and a professor of child development at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. Amy Bobrow, PhD, a clinical psychologist and professor in the Child Study Center at New York University School of Medicine in Manhattan. Nadine Kaslow, PhD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University.
Giving teens a chance to establish their own identity, giving them more independence, is essential to helping them establish their own place in the world. But if it means he’s going out with a bad crowd, that’s another thing,” says Elkind. Purple hair, a messy room — those don’t matter. It helps to meet kids you have questions about. You’re not flat-out rejecting them, you’re at least making an overture.
When kids see them, see how their friends act with their parents, they can get a better sense of those friends,” Elkind tells WebMD. It’s the old adage, you catch more bears with honey than vinegar. If you flatly say, you can’t go out with those kids, it often can backfire — it just increases the antagonism. Decide rules and discipline in advance. If it’s a two-parent family, it’s important for parents to have their own discussion, so they can come to some kind of agreement, so parents are on the same page,” says Bobrow. Whether you ban them from driving for a week or a month, whether you ground them for a week, cut back on their allowance or Internet use — whatever — set it in advance. Give teens age-appropriate autonomy, especially if they behave appropriately,” says Kaslow.
But you need to know where they are. Whether it’s drugs, driving, or premarital sex, your kids need to know the worst that could happen. Tell them: “If the only option is getting into a car with a drunk driver, call me — I don’t care if it’s 3 in the morning,” says Bodrow. Or make sure they have cab fare.
Help them figure out how to handle a potentially unsafe situation, yet save face,” she suggests. Come up with a solution that feels comfortable for that child. Another good line: “You may not feel like talking about what happened right now. But if you feel like talking about it later, you come to me,” Elkind suggests. I think too much is made about self-esteem,” says Elkind. Feeling good about yourself is healthy. But people should feel bad if they have hurt someone or done something wrong.