Teens and Sex: Encouraging Your Teens to Wait

SexEtcRaising teens in today’s world is not easy.

Whether your teenager’s health classes at school take an abstinence-only approach to sexual education or not, the responsibility of encouraging abstinence still falls largely upon your shoulders as a parent. Sexual activity at an early age could potentially lead to an unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases or both. Teenagers are beginning to experience adult urges, but still have an underdeveloped sense of the impulse control that governs most adult social interaction.

Approaching your teen about sexuality and abstinence doesn’t have to be awkward and uncomfortable, though, especially if you’ve established a foundation of open, honest communication.

Get to Know Your Teen

It’s not easy to talk to someone that you don’t really know, especially if your lack of mutual familiarity makes a frank conversation about sex painfully awkward. In order to effectively teach your teenager why he should avoid sexual activity until he’s older and more mature, you’ll have to be able to speak comfortably about other things, too. It’s also important that you know who his friends are, what he’s interested in and who he’s dating. The peer group around your teenager will have a certain amount of influence over his decisions, especially if he’s involved in a romantic relationship. You’ll need to tailor your conversations regarding sexuality to meet his individual situation, something you simply can’t do if you don’t know these basic bits of information.

Avoid Moral Ambiguity

If abstinence from premarital sex is important to your family because of your religious beliefs, you have concrete reasons aside from teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases for encouraging such behavior. Teenagers tend to think that the worst-case scenario doesn’t apply to them, and while these situations happen to other people, they’ll never happen to them. Heads of secular households will need to avoid attaching an ambiguous moral stigma to the idea of teen sex, especially if it’s not something you actually believe. If religion isn’t a driving force behind your hopes for abstinence, it’s best to stick to the facts.

Encourage Him to Pursue Long-Term Goals

A teenager that’s focused on a long-term goal, like finishing college or excelling in an area in which he’s particularly talented, may be more determined to avoid potential stumbling blocks along the road to the success he dreams of. Making sure that you encourage your teenager’s ambitions and that you explain how easily they could be derailed by an unplanned pregnancy or an incurable sexually transmitted disease can put a spin on abstinence that he understands.

Limit Screen Time, But Don’t Be Afraid to Use Entertainment as a Talking Point

Sex sells, a fact that’s readily apparent any time you switch on the television. While limiting screen time is a wise choice for a variety of reasons, you should realize that you simply can’t shield your teenager from allusions to sexual activity on television, in music or on the Internet. Rather than trying to block all references to sexuality, you should use them as talking points. Remember that talking about abstinence is an ongoing dialogue, not a one-time discussion. Topical conversations about the things that your teen sees on television are another effective way of applying these important principals to his real life in a way that makes sense to him.

Consider the Effects of Substance Use

Teenagers aren’t renowned for their impulse control and drinking or drug use can cause their inhibitions to drop even further. Understanding the causal link between substance use and sexual activity is essential for parents because your teenager will almost certainly find himself in the position of being offered drugs or alcohol at some point in his high school career. Making sure that your stance on experimentation with controlled substances is clear and that your teenager understands just how quickly a single mistake can ruin a promising life is important.

Have Frank Discussions About the Ramifications of Teen Pregnancy

The abstract notion of being saddled with an infant before graduation is a scary one to teenagers, but it’s still not a concept that fully sinks in most of the time. Teenagers may understand that sex can lead to pregnancy, but they still tend to believe that it will never happen to them. Girls may even believe that teen pregnancy isn’t so devastating, and they may believe that they have the necessary tools to parent. Making sure that your children absolutely understand how devastating an unexpected pregnancy would be is essential, as it may be the one lesson they hold on to when they’re confronted with temptation.

While it’s important to talk to your teens about abstinence and maintaining sexual purity, it’s also important that you foster a sense of openness and trust in your relationship with them.

A teen that’s terrified of your reaction to an impulsive mistake or even an informed decision regarding his sexual activity isn’t likely to discuss the matter with you at all, leaving you firmly in the dark. Make sure that your child knows that you strongly encourage abstinence, but that you’re there to listen to him and to help him through difficult situations even if he doesn’t live up to those expectations.

Source: Babysitting Jobs

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Teen Sex Education and Choices They Have: Encouraging Abstinence

Parents today face so many more hurdles than generations prior.  Is it television? Media? Technology? Or simply kids are growing up way too fast!  Gone are the days you can sit on the sofa and watch a movie on TV with your kids without a commercial for some type of sexual enhancement drug/gel or other type of stimulant to increase your sex life (as an adult) pops up.  Even if your “kid” is a young adult, it can be uncomfortable to sit there with them and watch.  With all this type of hype in their face – why do we wonder why kids are having sex earlier and earlier?

A guest writer, Sara Dawkins, has written a great article for parents, teens and educators to read:

Encouraging Teens to Abstain

When the state of California started to mail condoms for free to children ages 12-19, you had to know there was a problem. While I do agree with the concept of safe sex, I do not think teens should be encouraged to have sex at all. I know it is not realistic to assume that no teen is going to have sex, but isn’t it the parent’s job to inform their child of the ramifications of sex at such a young age.

It is a scientific fact that teens brains take time to develop. Some of the higher thinking processes doesn’t become fully formed and implemented even up to the early twenties. So how can parents expect children of 13, 14, 15 years to make rational, lifelong decisions like sex? If children have to wait until they are 18 to smoke and 21 to drink, then why don’t we have an age limit for sex?

I know there are certain limits on sex to protect children from adults, but what about protecting children from each other? When there are T.V. reality shows about 16 year old parents, there is apparently a problem. And it’s not all about birth control and safe sex education. That’s all well and good, but we are ignoring the emotional impact of sex.

Sex is supposed to be an act between a life-long couple. It bonds people, makes you become one with the other person. But what happens when you have sex with three, four, eight people? Are you forming bonds with each one? What kind of emotional impact does that have? Not only does having multiple partners affect teens, but even having one partner at a young age is emotionally trying. The have essentially married that person, and what happens when the relationship fails? Which it will. Then the teens go through the same heartbreak as a divorce, except they don’t have the adult emotional and rational ability to deal with it.

Do you remember how much better (and worse) things felt when you were a teen? There is a reason for that. Between hormones raging and the maturation of the brain, teens feel things much more than most adults. So how much more does sex affect them? This is one reason you should encourage teens to abstain from sex until they are adults. They are just not equipped, emotionally or mentally, to deal with the connection and ramifications. Not to mention having children of their own.

How can you help teens stay abstinent in a sex-drenched world? Teach them not to get into situations where they will be alone with the opposite sex and become tempted. Help them to understand the ramifications of their actions in the long term. If they have a person they are dating, remind them not to get too caught up in emotions and touching. They will thank you when they get older.

Author Bio

Sara Dawkins is an active nanny as well as an active freelance writer. She also helps in providing information on nanny jobs through her writing.  Learn more about her Learn more about her here.

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Teens HOOKING-UP – Do you know your teen’s slang?

Teen sex - do you know about your teen?

Summer flings are around the corner since school is almost over for the year.  What will your teen be doing this summer?  Who will they be hanging with?

Parents, it is time you get in the know!

Have you ever wondered where certain expressions come from? Me too, which is why cliches and figures of speech have become a hobby of mine. Well, since it’s springtime, traditionally a time for romance, why not have a look at some expressions for getting together (wink-wink)?

Great! Here’s a list of 10 slang terms for “hooking up”, and their origins.

  1. Discussing Uganda – This one is credited to the British magazine Private Eye, a satirical publication that has a tradition of coining such euphemisms. It stems from an incident at a party where a female journalist used the term to explain her absence during a brief sexual rendezvous upstairs, reportedly at the time when Idi Amin and his Ugandan regime predominated the news.
  2. Friends With Benefits – A relationship wherein the partners are not romantically involved, and who would characterize their relationship essentially as a friendship, which includes consensual but non-committal sex ( the “benefits” part). The earliest reference of the phrase in this context that I could find is in the 1996 Alanis Morissette song, Head Over Feet.
  3. Starter Marriage – A term referring to a marital hook-up, meaning a first marriage of short duration and with no children. It’s a play on the expression “starter home” whose popularity is credited to a book by Pamela Paul, The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony.
  4. To Know in the Biblical Sense – A euphemism for having sexual relations. Taken, as the term implies, from the Bible, as in Genesis 4:1 -”And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived…”
  5. Making the Beast with Two Backs – Another sexual euphemism, this one from Shakespeare’s Othello, act 1, scene 1: Iago: I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.
  6. Tying the Knot –  Marriage has long been associated with such metaphorical imagery of binding ties or knots. This phrase is said to have originated with a Roman custom where the bride wore a girdle which had knots that the groom would need to untie before consummating the union.
  7. Jumping the Broom – In some cultures (Welsh  and Gypsy, for instance), it is a ceremonial tradition for the groom and  bride to literally jump over a broomstick, or a flowering branch of broom (evergreen shrub).
  8. Painting the Town Red – This expression for spending an evening in revelry can be traced to Henry Beresford, the 3rd Marquess of Waterford, who quite literally painted the town of Melton Mowbray red to celebrate a successful fox hunt.
  9. Booty Call – A modern-day reference to a request for casual sex; derived from the sexual term for a woman’s derriere, it means a call made to a prospective partner for the purpose of hooking up in order to have sex, or the act itself.
  10. And, inevitably, we have sexual euphemisms derived from this age of the internet, including a favorite of mine which needs no explanation … Putting YouTube into MySpace.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Teen Pregnancy Pact

Parenting years ago and having a teen get pregnant was, in many families, humiliating and shameful to the family.  Today teens are having babies and some are not considering the consequences, or maybe are considering them however don’t realize the “real life” situation rather than what they read.

January 23rd, Saturday night, Lifetime Network will premier, “The Pregnancy Pact” at 9:00pm ET.  Inspired by a true story, this movie depicts a fictional pregnancy pact between a group of teenagers.  The film explores the costs of teen pregnancy and was prompted by the news reports from June 2008.  Time Magazine ran a story about this pregnancy pact in a school where the teen pregnancies rose to 18 girls.

The discussion of birth control is started by the school nurse who tries to convince the school to provide contraception to students to address the pregnancy epidemic but is met with great opposition from the school and community.

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teenage Pregnancy:

  • Three in 10 girls in the U.S. get pregnant at least once by the age of 20.
  • Six in 10 teens who have had sex say that they wish they had waited.
  • Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned – about 3 million each year.
  • One out of 10 children in the United States is born to a teen mother.

Lifetime Networks is proud to partner with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing teen pregnancy and unplanned pregnancy among single, young adults.

Additional information and resources are available at www.thenationalcampaign.org.

Parenting teens is challenging today, between the technology and peer pressure, it almost seems impossible to keep up.  Teen pregnancy was an issue many years ago, and still is today.  The difference is we have much more awareness, education and information to help our teens understand the consequences as well as the dangers of unprotected sex.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.  

Watch video and read on Examiner.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Teenage Summer Romance – Teen Relationships

Summer romance? Teenage love and relationships – learn more.  Great article by Richard Hills.

teenlove2By Richard Hills

Examiner.com

I was 17 when I had my first “real” girlfriend (yes, yes, I was a late bloomer). But in fairness that is not to say that I hadn’t fallen in love before that; what many would have called ‘crushes’. Now, as a father, I get to watch this all unfolding in front of me again with my three daughters.

To prepare writing this article I was looking for some background data on teenage love, or relationships, and while there is a ton of information out there, it was not the sort of thing I want to address here.

The scenario: I’m in the car to pick up my teenage daughter from middle school. When she gets into the car, she’s simply beaming. “How did your day go?” I ask, “Ohhhh daddy, I met this boy today and …” 30 minutes later as we arrive at home she’s still talking about him. Teenage love; do we take it seriously?

According to all the information out there on the internet, we’d better take it seriously; STD’s, teen abuse, teen sex, teen pregnancy – a plethora of information to make any father lock up his daughter in the top room of the tower and throw away the key!

But these are not the issues I wanted to talk about today. Not that they are not worthy of discussion, they are. I’ve talk about some of them already in past articles and I’ll discuss others later. But today I just wanted to talk about the feelings of love. When your son or daughter comes to you with that silly doe-eyed expression talking about love, what is our first reaction as parents? I’m sure the issues listed above come into mind, but often I think the thought of “puppy-love” comes into mind. “Oh darling, you’re too young to know what real love is”. If you are thinking that let me recommend to you that those words NEVER leave your mouth in front of your child.

Childhood love is an expression of Self. It is a display of much needed independence and moral growth at this age of development. We as parents should not minimize this in the eyes of our youth, in fact I believe it should be encouraged. David Richo, noted psychologist and author often writes about the 5 A’s (attention, affection, appreciation, acceptance, and allowing). These are attributes that we need fulfilled from a very early age. These later, in healthy relationships become the attributes that we desire to give. But we’ll never be able to give them if we never got them from our parents. So, when your teen comes to you in love, don’t dismiss those feelings as ‘puppylove’, or “you’re too young to understand” – trust me, to your teen, YOU don’t know what you are talking about.

In my research I did find an interesting article / study about teenage relationships.  This study found our teenage boys have much more feelings then they are normally given credit for. I shouldn’t be surprised (having been one of those boys) – but I am a father of daughters now and the perspective is very different. If we take away our children’s love when they are young, what exactly will they have when they are older adults? It is real love, and should be treated as such. In our experience we know, just as she came bouncing to the car expressing her love, one day she will come running to the car in sorrow and pain over a lost love. Let us, as parents be there both times; first to celebrate… then to commiserate with our child’s healthy growth.

 For more info: David Richo

Sue Scheff – Teen Sexuality

This topic is brought up frequently with parents today. It seems many teens have questions that parents need to be prepared to answer and more importantly, prepared to understand this sensitive subject.  Without getting into religious beliefs, parents needs to recognize that kids today are more exposed to many subjects that were taboo years ago – generations ago!  However, it doesn’t make them less important.  I believe that parents need to take the time to try to understand all concepts of today’s generations, although it has probably been in previous times too – living in the past won’t help us today.

Source: KidsHealth

It’s a natural part of life to have sexual feelings. As people pass from childhood, through adolescence, to adulthood, their sexual feelings develop and change.

During the teen years, sexual feelings are awakened in new ways because of the hormonal and physical changes of puberty. These changes involve both the body and the mind, and teens tend to wonder about new — and often intense — sexual feelings.

It takes time for many people to understand who they are and who they’re becoming. Part of that understanding includes a person’s sexual feelings and attractions.

The term sexual orientation refers to the gender (that is, male or female) to which a person is attracted. There are several types of sexual orientation that are commonly described:

  • Heterosexual. People who are heterosexual are romantically and physically attracted to members of the opposite sex: Heterosexual males are attracted to females, and heterosexual females are attracted to males. Heterosexuals are sometimes called “straight.”
  • Homosexual. People who are homosexual are romantically and physically attracted to people of the same sex: Females who are attracted to other females are lesbian; males who are attracted to other males are often known as gay. (The term gay is sometimes also used to describe homosexual individuals of either gender.)
  • Bisexual. People who are bisexual are romantically and physically attracted to members of both sexes.

Teens — both boys and girls — often find themselves having sexual thoughts and attractions. For some, these feelings and thoughts can be intense — and even confusing or disturbing. That may be especially true for people who are having romantic or sexual thoughts about someone of the same gender. “What does that mean,” they might think. “Am I gay?”

Thinking sexually about both the same sex and the opposite sex is quite common as teens sort through their emerging sexual feelings. This type of imagining about people of the same or opposite sex doesn’t necessarily mean that a person fits into a particular type of sexual orientation.

Some teens may also experiment with sexual experiences, including those with members of the same sex, during the years they are exploring their own sexuality. These experiences, by themselves, do not necessarily mean that a teen is gay or straight.

Do People Choose Their Sexual Orientation?

Most medical professionals, including organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Psychological Association (APA), believe that sexual orientation involves a complex mixture of biology, psychology, and environmental factors. A person’s genes and inborn hormonal factors may play a role as well. These medical professionals believe that — in most cases — sexual orientation, whatever its causes, is not simply chosen.

Not everyone agrees. Some believe that individuals can choose who they are attracted to — and that people who are gay have chosen to be attracted to people of the same gender.

There are lots of opinions and stereotypes about sexual orientation. For example, having a more “feminine” appearance or interest does not mean that a teen boy is gay. And having a more “masculine” appearance doesn’t mean a girl is lesbian. As with most things, making assumptions just based on looks can lead to the wrong conclusion.

It’s likely that all the factors that result in someone’s sexual orientation are not yet completely understood. What is certain is that people, no matter their sexual orientation, want to feel understood, respected, and accepted — particularly by their family. That’s not always easy in every family.

What’s It Like for Gay Teens?

For teens who are gay or lesbian, it can feel like everyone is expected to be straight. Because of this, some gay and lesbian teens may feel different from their friends when the heterosexual people around them start talking about romantic feelings, dating, and sex. They may feel like they have to pretend to feel things that they don’t in order to fit. They might feel they need to deny who they are or that they have to hide an important part of themselves.

These feelings, plus fears of prejudice, can lead teens who aren’t straight to keep their sexual orientation secret, even from friends and family who might be supportive. Kids and teens who are gay are likely to face people who express stereotypes, prejudices, and even hate about homosexuality.

Some gay or lesbian teens tell a few accepting, supportive friends and family members about their sexual orientation. This is often called coming out. Many lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens who come out to their friends and families are fully accepted by them and their communities. They feel comfortable about being attracted to someone of the same gender and don’t feel particularly anxious about it.

But not everyone has the same feelings or good support systems. People who feel they need to hide who they are or who fear rejection, discrimination, or violence can be at greater risk for emotional problems like anxiety and depression.

Some gay teens without support systems can be at higher risk than heterosexual teens for dropping out of school, living on the streets, using alcohol and drugs, and even in some cases for attempting to harm themselves.

These difficulties are thought to happen more frequently not directly because they are gay, but because gay and lesbian people are more likely to be misunderstood, socially isolated, or mistreated because of their sexual orientation.

This doesn’t happen to all gay teens, of course. Many gay and lesbian teens and their families have no more difficulties during the teen years than anyone else.

The Importance of Talking

No matter what someone’s sexual orientation is, learning about sexuality and relationships can be difficult for a teen to come to terms with. It can help a teen to talk to someone about the confusing feelings that go with growing up, whether it’s a parent, another family member, a close friend or sibling, or a school counselor. It’s not always easy for a teen to find somebody to talk to, but many of them find that confiding in someone they trust and feel close to, even if they’re not completely sure how that person will react, turns out to be a positive experience.

In many communities, resources such as youth groups composed of teens who are facing similar issues can provide opportunities for people to talk to others who understand. Psychologists, psychiatrists, family doctors, and trained counselors can help teens cope — confidentially and privately — with the difficult feelings that go with their developing sexuality. These experts can also help teens to find ways to deal with any peer pressure, harassment, and bullying they may face. They can also help parents manage any complicated feelings they may be having as they come to terms with their teen’s sexuality.

Whether gay, straight, bisexual, or just not sure, almost all teens have questions about reaching physical maturity and about sexual health (for example, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases). Because these can be difficult topics, it’s especially important for gay and lesbian teens to find someone knowledgeable who they can trust and confide in.

Parents can help by becoming more knowledgeable about issues of sexuality — and learning to be more comfortable discussing them. Parents also can help their teen gain access to a doctor or health professional who will provide reliable health advice.

http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/talk/sexual_orientation.html

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: “Sexting” Teens and Cell Phones

sextingWhat will be next?  It seems today’s parenting tweens and teens becomes more challenging on a daily basis.  It is becoming more difficult for parents to keep up with today’s teen technology, not only computers, but their cell phones.  What started out as a safety gadget (being able to get in touch with your child or vice versa) now this gadget called a Cell Phone or I-Phone or SideKick or Blackberry, etc – has started a new rage of negative influences – being labeled as “sexting.” 

Connect with Kids has a recent article and parenting tips on this latest trend.  Take a moment to read more.

Source: Connect with Kids

“They’re taking shots of people in the bathrooms or at parties, people doing certain things that they wouldn’t want to know if they were not under the influences of certain things.”

– Taylor Boggs, 14 year old

According to 17 year old Emily Greene, “People have been taking pictures of girls or guys naked.  And they are putting them on the internet and stuff like that.”

Now kids are sending those photos over their cell phones.

“Well, kids will just like put them on the ground and girls will walk over them if they’re wearing a skirt and they’ll take a picture of it,” says Reece Boston, 16. He also says, “I think there are girls who are aware of it, actually. I mean there are girls who’ll go to school and not have any underwear on …it’s really kind of sick.”  

Nude photos will embarrass themselves and their family and they may well be illegal – experts say that’s what kids need to hear loud and clear from their parents.

“Parents have 100% of the power, “says psychologist Alduan Tartt, Ph.D., “because most kids won’t admit that they listen to their parents, but what you say to them in an exchange of information is really what they need.” 

Some educators and child psychologists recommend that part of the agreement to buy a cell phone for a child should be the parents’ right to check the phone for suggestive pictures.

High school curriculum director Bobby Macris adds, “Ultimately it’s the parents decision… so if they think it’s
being abused, like anything else … like a car or whatever, they can just take it away from them.”

But some experts argue the real issue is that, in a very sexual culture, too few parents talk to their kids about sex … and too many educators teach only plumbing, all which leaves too many kids on their own.
 
Gail Elizabeth Wyatt, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at UCLA says, “We’re concerned about their behavior, we certainly don’t want them to be sexually active, we don’t want them to think about sex, and yet they’re exploited daily by the things they see, by the music they hear, by the clothes that they’re reinforced to wear. And they are very poorly guided by parents, by our society, their religions, and generally by everyone that they meet except each other. “

Tips for Parents

Should teenagers be allowed to have camera phones? The wireless industry is hoping parents will say “yes.” Experts say teenagers have become the cell phone market’s fastest growing demographic group. A study by the market research firm Cahners In-Stat Group predicts the number of young cell phone subscribers will explode to 43 million by next year. That means half of all teenagers will own a cell phone, and three out of four will use one, many of which will have cameras built in to them.

Research shows parents are often willing to pay for the cell phone to keep track of their kids. However, parents need to be mindful of the downsides of having camera phones, such as spying on other people, dangerous pranks, etc. Teens, on the other hand, told researchers they use phones mostly for social purposes – and they want more colorful and interesting cell phone options.

The best way to prevent your teenager from using their camera phones in inappropriate ways is to set ground rules and expectations in every area of their life, starting when they are young. If they have a good grasp of right and wrong, it should apply to every area of their lives, including their use of camera phones. Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.D., has developed guidelines to follow to monitor your teenager and to keep a closer eye on their behavior.

  • Get to know the parents of your children’s friends. This is absolutely the most important thing you can do if you want to have access to your children’s world. When your teen begins to “hang” with a new kid, get the phone number, call the parents and introduce yourself. Make a point of giving the child a ride home so you can walk up to the door and shake the parent’s hand. As soon as the kids start making plans to get together, touch base with the other parent to exchange information about rules regarding curfew, acceptable activities and supervision. Responses will range from relief that you are as concerned as they are to resentment that you expect parental support and involvement. Parents who are like-minded are going to become part of the support system that keeps your children safe. Parents who either don’t care where their kids are or who think it’s absolutely fine for them to be unsupervised aren’t going to respond well to being asked to be responsible. You may be dismayed but at least you will know where you stand.
  • Communicate regularly with those parents. When teens make plans that involve staying at another teen’s house or getting rides to events with other parents, make sure that you have a parent-to-parent communication at some point in the planning process. Make sure that it is really okay with the other parent that your child is sleeping over. Conversely, make sure that the other parent knows if you are driving their children or dropping them at an event. Again, check for agreement about the level of supervision.
  • Establish the “Three W” rule. Teens need to tell you where they are going, who they will be with, and when they will be back. This is not an invasion of privacy; it’s common courtesy. Adult roommates generally do the same for each other. You don’t need minute details, just the broad strokes of what is being planned for the evening. If something comes up, your child can be located. People engaged in “legitimate” activities don’t need to hide their whereabouts.
  • Respect privacy, but refuse to accept secretive behavior. It’s important to your teen’s developing sense of independence to have some privacy, but he or she must learn the difference between privacy and secrecy. Your kids do have a right to talk with friends privately, to keep a diary and to have uninterrupted time alone. But if your teen starts being evasive – get busy. Calmly, firmly, steadily insist that you have a right to know who their friends are and what they are doing together. Talk to teachers about who your kid’s friends are as well and start to build alliances with their parents.
  • Talk regularly with your kids about their choice of friends. Kids often don’t realize that they’ve fallen in with bad company. They like to think that they see something positive in a kid that everyone knows is bad news. They may be drawn to the exotic, the different, the risky. They are teens, after all! And part of the job of adolescence is learning how to judge character. Keep lines of communication with your child open so that you can talk about their relationships.
  • Support your child’s positive involvement in a sport, art or activity. Generally, kids who come through the teen years unscathed are those who have a passion about something and who develop a friendship circle around it. This could be the football team, the dance studio, the skateboarding club or a martial art dojo. It really doesn’t matter what it is, but what does matter is that you get involved. Provide rides. Watch practices, games and performances. It doesn’t need to take a lot of time or money to let your teen and his or her friends know that you care. Bring the whole team popsicles on a hot day or hot chocolate on a cold one. Let your child – and his or her group – know that you are willing to put your time, money and energy into supporting healthy activity.
  • Help your child get a job. If your child spends too much time at loose ends and doesn’t have a sport or an activity, at least get him or her working. A job teaches life skills, eats up idle time and helps kids feel good about themselves.
  • Act swiftly and certainly when something unacceptable happens. Your son isn’t where he said he would be? Go find him. Your daughter’s friend invited a boy into the house when she thought you had gone to sleep? Get dressed and take everybody home. Your kid comes home drunk? Put him or her to bed for the rest of the night, but deal with it first thing in the morning. Be consistently clear, kind and definite in response to unacceptable behavior and kids will see that you really won’t tolerate it.
  • Model adult behavior when you are in conflict with your teen. Whatever you do, don’t yell, threaten, preach or “lose it” if you don’t like a behavior, a friendship or how your child interacts with you. You will render yourself totally ineffective with your teen. Your child will take you far more seriously if you insist that the two of you focus on managing the problem instead of yelling at each other.

References

  • National Safety Council
  • AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
  • Progressive Phone Safety Tips