The teenage years can be a difficult transition for teens and parents alike. As teens grow and seek more freedom, communication with parents can become strained.
North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities, provides educational, recreational, leadership and service learning opportunities to help youth become self-assured and make good choices. The program also empowers students and parents to maintain healthy communication about important topics like growing up.
This year, on the last day of class before graduation, high school students were asked if they had some parenting advice they would like to share. We’ve compiled some of their top responses below:
Trust Your Teen and Avoid Assuming the Worst
Sometimes, parents assume the worst instead of giving teens the benefit of the doubt. If you believe your teen is doing something wrong, talk about it. Remain calm, patient and understanding, as you may not know your teen’s side of the story.
Let Teens Earn Freedom and Rewards
Often, parents avoid giving teens freedom because they’re afraid of exposing them to the outside world. However, teens may take this to mean they aren’t trustworthy and rebel. As your teen shows more responsibility, increase freedoms but let he or she know that there are consequences for not following the rules.
The same goes for rewards like cars, phones and video game consoles. If your teen can earn these items by contributing in some way, he or she will be much more likely to appreciate them.
Validate and Prioritize Teen Stress
Just because teens may not pay bills or work a full-time job doesn’t mean they don’t feel stressed. The teens expressed that their problems are different, but the stress is real.
Let teens know the stress they’re feeling is valid. Help them find coping skills that work for them. If you notice your teen is experiencing chronic stress or mental health issues, seek professional help.
Be Consistent in Your Parenting
When parents are consistent with rules, teens feel secure and aren’t confused about expectations. When your teen does something wrong, natural consequences are often enough in situations where parents feel the need for harsher punishments.
Don’t Expect Your Teen to Live Out Your Dreams
Let your teen discover their own passions and support them in pursuing them. Your child can’t find happiness if he or she is living out your dreams and not their own.
The reality is that there isn’t a “perfect” parent, nor is there a “perfect” child. When it comes to parenting, being purposeful over striving for perfection is key.
If you’re interested in helping youth build confidence and develop the communication skills they need to succeed, check out North Star’s volunteer opportunities.