How to Talk to your Teen

All Articles in the Category ‘How to Talk to your Teen’

Teenage Stepkids

With the divorce rate in the U.S. around 40-50% (depending on how you slice the statistics), many adults are remarrying or re-committing into families where there are already children. Sometimes a remarriage involves taking on the role of parenting teenage stepchildren. Adolescent stepchildren are different from younger stepchildren; they are dealing with the normal adolescent urge to break away from family and create their own identity, even as you come in and change the makeup of their family.

Ideally, you’re starting to work on this long before you become an “official” stepparent. If you’re going to marry a parent and live with their kids, even part of the time, those kids deserve to get to know you well before you actually join the family. This includes not just fun family outings and trips, but spending time with them during their everyday life doing homework, spending a lazy day in, getting into family arguments, or cleaning out the garage.

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Home for the Holidays

For many parents, this Thanksgiving will be the first time their teen is coming home from college for the holidays. They’ve been living in dorms or apartments, studying, partying, and reveling in their independence, and now the family gets to reunite. It’s something many parents look forward to, but may worry about as well.

Teens in college have been eating, sleeping, studying, and living independently for at least a couple of months. They’ve lived with few rules. How will they behave when back in their old home? Will there be fights, or will they just be thrilled to have someone do their laundry for them?

Of course, every teen is different. But here are some common things that parents notice when teens are home from college.

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Who should pay for gas?

 I was recently chatting with a colleague who has 3 teenagers and she enlightened me that she spends a considerable amount of money on gas…not for herself (she bikes to work), but for her teen daughter!

Of course, the idea of who should pay for things spills over into other areas.  If a teen wants the latest fashion design, or really wants to see a movie with friends, who pays for it?  When should a teen be expected to earn money for things beyond the basic needs of food, shelter, and school supplies? Read full post »

How Do You Discipline Teenagers?

A video of a Texas judge William Adams whipping his teenage child with a belt has caused a media furor (this is a link to an article, not the video), and many are calling for a child abuse investigation. I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video- and found it unnecessary when articles described it in detail- but it was brutal, a terrifying depiction of uncontrolled, explosive rage.

It should be obvious to everyone reading this that beating your teenager with a belt while screaming obscenities is not the way to discipline a teenager; it is illegal, not to mention violent and horrible.

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Teen Violence

Here in Washington State, the recent stabbing of two high school students in a school with a good reputation has made many parents and students aware of the implications teen violence can have on a community. Many of the communities in the Pacific Northwest do not routinely think about safety or violence. Parents are involved in community organizations, students attend homecomings and football games. Violent acts may go unnoticed or may be thought of only as associated with gangs, yet violence is a very big public health problem. Violence amongst teens and young adults is the second leading cause of death in the age group of youth ages 10-24!

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How To Help Your Teen Through Your Divorce

In this day and age, having divorced parents is quite common for kids of all ages. In a sense, the frequency of divorce has made it a little easier; children of divorcing parents have some peers to compare stories with and get advice from. At the same time, your child’s feelings of confusion and fear are theirs alone. (Please note that by “divorce” I mean the breakup of a long-term committed relationship where two adults have raised a child – not necessarily the dissolution of a legal marriage)

Your teen’s reaction to an announcement of divorce may run the gamut from despair to relief to denial. Here’s some advice on communicating with your teenager during the divorce, and trying to help them deal with this huge life change.

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Why Smart Teens Do Stupid Things

A comment I often hear from parents is, “She is so smart, how could she (get pregnant/ take drugs/ drive drunk/ shoplift/ send out naked pictures of herself/ trust a man she met online/ get that tattoo when she’s going to job interviews…)?” Obviously, the options are endless, but the real issue is- how do teenagers who are very intelligent, often do well in school, and obviously understand many adult concepts, do something phenomenally short-sighted, impulsive, or just plain dumb?

We are tempted to associate academic intelligence or cultural literacy with other forms of intelligence, such as emotional intelligence or maturity. To us, it makes sense that a teen who excels in one form of intelligence would be advanced in others.

It’s true that successful teens do tend to have positive character traits. Many teens who excel academically, or in more intellectual hobbies such as debate, youth government, or social justice work, possess more organization and tenacity than your average teen. However, teenage emotional regulation, judgment, and impulsiveness are usually underdeveloped at best. It’s not their fault- their brains are still developing full adult capacity for these traits. Read full post »

Teen Prescription Drug Use

How many adults have a medicine cabinet full of drugs?  Perhaps you’re saving that painkiller your dentist prescribed ‘just in case of emergency’ or the 10 pills for anxiety your doctor gave you for a case of stage fright? Maybe a grandparent has medications for blood pressure or a heart condition that were forgotten about.

Well, a friend recently told me a new term for a not-so-new trend in teen prescription drug use: “salad bowling”.  The concept is simple: teens go to their parents’ medicine cabinet and dump all the drugs into a salad bowl.  At the next party, set the bowl so friends can take a handful.  This trend is dangerous in its own right, but add alcohol to the mix and the consequences can be deadly. Read full post »

How to talk to your teen about drugs

Talking to your teen about drugs can be a daunting task.  How do you start the conversation?  Should you mention your previous use?  Should you wait to bring it up only if you catch your teen using drugs or alcohol?  We asked our chemical dependence professionals what their tips for parents are and Kelly Kerby provided her top 10 list of how to talk to your teen about drugs.



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Teen Dating and Teen Drinking

Many parents fearfully await their teen showing interest in dating, worrying about everything from broken hearts to sexually transmitted diseases. A recent study in the American Sociological Review states that teens who date are more likely to drink alcohol (due to added opportunities for peer pressure and bad examples from their partner’s friends.) But don’t revoke their dating privileges just yet.

Forming romantic attachments is an important part of growing up. Dating during adolescence helps teen discover what qualities they want in a romantic partner, learn appropriate behavior in a dating or committed relationship, and learn important lessons about trust and consequences.

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