By Jennifer Korenek
As a parent of a budding adolescent, it can be difficult adjusting to the transition from Hero to Enemy. Almost overnight, the structured environment you have created to make your child feel safe has turned into a concentration camp as far as your teenager is concerned.
It may be tempting to relax on your standards, as you reevaluate how your expectations can measure up to your adolescent’s abilities. However, while you reevaluate your parenting style, be sure any changes you make are lateral, rather than vertical.
Teenagers need some autonomy to make their own choices and decisions, but the parent still needs to be the one to provide those choices. The frontal lobes in the brain are the last area to develop, and the most crucial. This is the area of the brain that controls forethought, prediction, and awareness of the future consequences of our actions. This part of the brain is not finished developing until age 25, and in an adolescent this area could be considered like a child learning to swim.
Instead of dropping your child in the water with the instructions “sink or swim”, give your teenager a structured decision, as in two choices you have come up with that they can choose from. Make sure each choice carries with it an immediate and future consequence.
“If you mow the lawn today (Monday) I will give you $20 for when you go out with your friends over the weekend. Each day you do not mow the lawn, I will deduct $5. If, by Friday night, the lawn is still not mowed, you may not go out at anytime over the weekend”.
Giving the teenager structured choices, teaches him/her to own the responsibility of his/her actions, rather than holding the parent accountable for them.