Admit it: Parenting is hard. It doesn’t get easier as your kids get older; it just changes. As your child grows and develops, so do your parenting skills. And the same set of skills you used to potty train your toddler won’t necessarily apply during the teen years.
In many ways, parenting teens is the same as parenting infants. You love them, you protect them, and you teach them. However, the ways you demonstrate your love and offer protection adapt as your children grow. Teenagers yearn for independence, but they still need guidance — particularly when they are faced with dangers like underage drinking. Here are some ways you can adjust your parenting skills to help your teens.
Establish a set of rules for your children to follow and explain their significance. Rules are there to keep your children safe and to teach them right from wrong. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Create Family Rules
Rules may need to be adapted as your children grow but creating ground rules for the family reminds them that they are part of a unit. This idea also helps them realize these rules are there for a reason:
- No one under 21 can drink alcohol
- No one in the family can ride in a car with a driver who has been drinking
- Older kids can’t encourage their younger siblings to drink
If your teen demonstrates more responsibility, give them more freedom. If they break the rules or show poor judgment, give them more restrictions.
Make sure your teenager knows there are consequences for poor judgment and bad behavior. These consequences for breaking the rules should be fair and linked to your teen’s actions.
Christine Carter from the Greater Good Science Center, a center that promotes research and education of emotional well-being, suggests parents of teenagers act more like coaches than managers.
When your children are young, you decide everything from where they go to what they wear. Teenagers are more independent, and they look for guidance over strict management. They want to make their own decisions, but they still need you to coach them. It is helpful to set clear expectations of how you want them to behave while letting them navigate the road themselves.
Set an Example
It is perhaps more important than ever during the teen years to set a good example as a parent. You are your teen’s number one role model, and they are likely to mirror your behavior. It’s important to demonstrate safe drinking practices in front of them, like only drinking in moderation and never driving when you’ve been drinking.
Show Them Love
You can set rules and consequences while showing your teens how much you love them. Parenting teens often means making and enforcing rules. You know what’s best for your kids, and you are there to protect them.
Make sure your kids know they can always turn to you. Tell them if they are in a situation where alcohol is present, they can ask you for help without getting in trouble. Keep the conversation about underage drinking open to build trust.
Talk It Out NC has tools to help you start the conversation about underage drinking with your teens.