Tips for Parenting Teenagers

There’s a reason that parents so often talk about the stress of the teenage years. This can be a difficult time since kids are going through an enormous number of psychological, intellectual, and physical changes. While it’s developmentally appropriate for children to start pulling away from their family and differentiating themselves at this stage, this can also be a time of great conflict. Even if your relationship with your teen is relatively low-conflict, this can still be a challenging time as your kid becomes more independent. The tips below can help you in these years. 

Let Them Be Separate 

When you look at your teen, you see someone who was just a toddler or an infant a few short years ago. However, it’s important to remember that from your child’s point of view, that was literally a lifetime ago. While your kid absolutely still needs your wisdom and guidance during this time, this is a time when it’s particularly important to give teenagers more freedom and let them start developing their own interests, ideas, and sense of self. 

Help Them Prepare for College 

Whether your kid is definitely planning to attend college or hasn’t yet made up their mind, there’s a lot you can do to help them get prepared for this stage of life. There are a few things to consider, including finances and their future career. As far as the former goes, college can be expensive, and it can be tough for a young person to cover those costs on their own. There are options, such as applying for scholarships or attending a community college for a couple of years, but neither of these is likely to fully address the issue of costs.  

It can be tough for a young person to get a student loan approved since they probably don’t have much in the way of a credit history. You can help them by cosigning on the loan or later on if they want to get a student loan refinance with a cosigner, which could provide them with lower rates. The other thing you can help them with is choosing which college to attend. Some people are fixed on attending a particular school, but for others, this choice can be overwhelming, and even those who chose their college years ago need a backup. For some teens, it can be tough to organize and sort through criteria, including quality of education, cost, location, and the campus culture. 

Encourage Independence 

Some teens will be ready to seize independence, perhaps more than it’s appropriate to give them right now, with both hands. Others may need a nudge. Wherever your child falls on this spectrum, you do need to start encouraging more independence and letting them manage more things on their own, as difficult as it can be for you. Keep in mind that while it feels like you’re helping when you step in to solve their problems, you’re leaving them ill equipped for developing the ability to do so on their own.  

Your child is almost certainly more capable than you give them credit for. Letting them increasingly take the lead at this time will help them better prepare for adulthood. Of course, there are absolutely issues that you need to step in on, but including those where their health or safety is at stake, but for less serious matters, they should be learning to deal with consequences as they relate to their choices and actions. Independence isn’t just about negative consequences, however; it also gives them a greater sense of control over their own life and can help make them more motivated. 

Keep Being a Parent 

As important as it is to give your child space and independence, it’s also important to remember that you’re still the parent and still an authority figure. Teens can seem more mature for their years than they really are, but they still need boundaries, discipline and advice. You can move into more of a friendship role with your adult children, but your teenagers aren’t adults just yet, and they really do need your guidance in navigating this difficult life stage. Finding the right balance is tough but worthwhile. Working with them now to establish good habits and self-discipline can give them skills to carry with them into adulthood. 


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