Challenges of teenagers
The situation: Your 16-year-old son says he's going to a friend's house to work on a social studies project, but he'll be home by 11. An hour later the friend calls and asks to speak to him.
What to do: Once you've tracked him down, prepare your greeting. Not "I'll never trust you again" (too abstract) or "Where the hell have you been?" (too controlling). Instead, say calmly, "Why did you think you had to deceive me about your plans?" Have him restate your rules and the reasons for them. Then ground him for the weekend. Violation of a privilege means the loss of it. But realize that kids sometimes rebel this way because they truly are ready for more independence. It may be time to loosen house policies, on a case-by-case basis, after he has regained your trust by behaving responsibly. How to cope: Your son sees this as one little lie; you envision him lying and cheating his way through life. Both of you are wrong. Lying and deceiving is one of the ways adolescents experiment with gaining independence from their parents How to move on: Realize it could have been worse: If he were really incorrigible, he would have called his friend to work out the plan.
The situation: Your son, tells you that he has no intention of going for further studies What to do:. This may not be as disastrous as it seems. Second, calm down and try to determine whether he really doesn't want to go fro higher studies or is just having a tough time facing this terrifying life transition. It will be easier to help him once you sort out whether he means what he's saying.How to cope: Ask yourself whether you've been too pushy. Often this is a reaction to pressure -- from parents and society -- to get into a qualification If your son is serious about skipping higher studies , ask what alternatives he has in mind.: Suggest that he work for a year after school before making this momentous decision. How to move on: Accept the fact that despite society's messages, our degrees and careers don't define who we are. There are many pathways to a productive adulthood.
The situation: Your 13-year-old daughter was caught shoplifting.
What to do: When you get her home, have the first of what may be a series of conversations aimed at finding whether she was thrill-seeking, giving in to peer pressure , or it was something more. Don't protect her from the consequences of her actions. If the store is pressing charges, get a lawyer to help you navigate the system but impose your own consequences as well How to cope: Let her know you'll be checking up -- for example, with random checks on her backpack or handbag -- and accompany her on shopping trips for the next few months.How to move on: Step back and let your teen shoulder responsibility for her actions.
Disrespect for Women
The situation: Driving your son and a friend, you overhear them laughing and talking about disrespectfully of the girls who might be there. What to do: Don't overreact, but do nip the conversation in the bud by saying, Hey guys, how about showing some respect? That's a derogatory term. Let's change the subject. As soon as you can, explain to your son the importance of having healthy attitudes toward women. How to cope: Don't assume these comments reflect your son's deeply held beliefs about women. They're probably a misguided attempt to keep up with and impress his buddy. How to move on: Look deeper, beyond your son's impulsive remarks, to his behavior. If he has friendships with girls, if he treats you and his sisters with respect, he's fine.
The situation: Your 16-year-old, a star cricket player, quits his team. What to do: Ultimately, this is his choice, but sound him out to make sure it's a carefully reasoned decision rather than a reaction to some difficulty on the team or fear of not measuring up. How to cope: Remember that this isn't about you. We all get gratification from our kids' talents but it may be time to face the fact that most kids are going to give up sports before they reach the Olympics.How to move on: Understand that disengaging from the activities of the past is an important way for teens to figure out what they value. This is what you've raised him for -- to make decisions for himself.
The situation: You borrow your son's computer and notice that the browser's log of "recent places" includes several porn sites.What to do: As soon as possible, make a time when the two of you can talk, a time when neither of you is rushed or overtired. Then tell him what you've discovered and say, Your curiosity is perfectly natural, but this isn't the best place to satisfy it. Porn shows you a very distorted picture of sexuality and intimacy, and it's degrading to women. Curb further adventures: Use filters and porn blocks, keep the computer in a public place, limit online and messaging time, and explain that you'll be monitoring the sites he visits
Finally, check who he corresponds with by e-mail for any names you don't recognize to make sure he's not the victim of an online pedophile who's feeding him porn. If you fear this is the case, inform the authorities .How to cope: Most likely this is normal curiosity, not the high road to perversion. While you can't make explicit sex totally unavailable -- it's everywhere -- you can certainly keep the hard-core stuff out of your house. How to move on: Remember that your child absorbs your values more from what he sees you doing than from what you say he ought to do. If you keep living what you believe, he will too.
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