You can listen to the people who tell you teens can't be trusted, or you can listen to two expert moms who don't want you to waste a single minute disliking your teenager. If the latter sounds good to you -- this is your book!
Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids
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As the CEO of Envision Possibilities and the mom of twins I was delighted to read this book now before entering the teen years. The authors have put together a masterpiece that truly teaches you as a parent not to fear the teen years. I especially enjoyed the chapter on how listening is effective, because I work with busy moms who want to take their life back I will use this as a resource for those moms who have teenagers to help them navigate the parenting waters.
Dixie Andrade - the Mom Coach
Busting 5 Myths About Why It’s OK to Spend Less Time with Teens
Laurence Steinberg, one of the country’s foremost experts on puberty, often likens adolescents to cars with powerful accelerators and weak brakes. Any owner of such a vehicle is probably going to want to monitor it. Nonetheless, parents tend to feel just fine about spending less time with teenagers than with younger children. And really, teens need them more.
What keeps parents from spending quality time with their teens?
Here are some myths about teenagers that trip up parents.
1. They are more independent.
True, but their judgment isn’t fully formed, and they react differently to risks. They can drive away in a car, get on an airplane, go online all by themselves. But they need the steadying and loving hand of nonjudgmental parents to learn to make good decisions and clean up after the bad ones.
2. Their friends matter more.
True, but you matter even more. Honest. Teens want to spend more time with their friends because they are accepting and approving. That is why they are friends. Your approval and acceptance still means a great deal, and it hurts teens even more when parents don’t reach out. Stretch into your teen’s world and work on accepting her just as she is.
3. They are too difficult.
Not true. Every age group can be difficult; teens haven’t cornered that market. Teens are kids who are now big enough to really challenge their parents while pushing against their fears. Getting along with teens means that parents have to acknowledge the teens’ changes and accept them and adjust to them. Acceptance and adjustment are what parents find difficult. My husband shared a recent article in the New York Times Magazine where parents complained about how awful their teens were. “That is not at all how I feel about my sons,” he remarked. Our culture makes it OK to bash teenagers and laugh about it – and then publish it in a national magazine. Go against the grain; don’t be that parent.
4. They have to learn to do it themselves.
5. They will talk to me if they need me.
This is not true unless you have a positive relationship with your teens. Stepping away from your teenager to “give them room” could be appropriate, but please check your motives. Are you stepping away because your teen is making you nuts and you have other things to do, or are you stepping away with love and with the understanding that you are always open and available? Teens will not talk to anyone about important issues unless they have solid proof that the relationship is safe. Assuming that “They will ask me if they need to” is, frankly, delusional.
In a recent study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, researchers determined that time spent with parents has a stronger positive influence over teenagers than over any other age group. Time spent with one parent or the other, but especially with both, has the most effect on teens, resulting in fewer behavioral problems, better performance in math, less substance abuse, and less delinquent behavior. Not toddlers. Not babies. Teenagers.
I do not advocate for smothering your teenager; helicopter parenting is not the solution. Instead think about what you are doing to grow your relationship with you teenager. How can you do that if you are not spending time with him or her? The five attitudes of slow parenting can guide you as you find the balance between smothering and abandoning your teen. Stretch into your teen’s world, be respectful and curious about her interests and values, celebrate successes, listen to him, and really be in contact with her every day. Teenagers need experience, experience with loving, adult guidance.