Posted , updated Dec 08, 2008.
As your child becomes a teenager, she will start spending a lot more time with her friends and a lot less time with you.This is normal.Teens with friends are physically and emotionally healthier than those without friends. Friends may help teens solve some of the problems they will face.
Teens do not drink or use drugs only because their friends do. Abusing alcohol or drugs is a sign of a problem more serious than peer pressure. But there are still ways parents can help prevent their teen from drinking and using drugs. Research has found that when parents monitor their teen’s behavior, the teen is less likely to participate in problem behaviors, and more likely to choose friends who participate in behaviors parents approve of.
During the teenage years friends provide care, respect, and trust.Teens choose their friends because of similar interests or to make themselves more popular.Your child’s friends are going through the same kinds of things as your teen.They understand each other so they can talk about their problems and figure out ways to solve them together.
Teens make decisions based on two important questions: What do my friends think? Will it be fun? Behaviors that parents see as problems, such as staying out past curfew or trying pot once, may seem okay to your teen.Your teen’s idea of fun and her perceptions of the level of risk involved determine whether or not she will participate in risky behaviors. For example, your teen is probably well aware that getting drunk carries many risks. But to a teenager, having fun and being with friends at the coolest party on Saturday night is more important than the risks. There is a trade-off between doing what one knows is right and being accepted by peers.Although your teen may have gotten drunk once or dyed his hair blue, keep in mind what he could be doing and what he has chosen not to do!
At some point, every teenager is going to have to make decisions about alcohol, sex, and drugs.Talking with your teen lets her know how you feel about these issues and increases the likelihood that she will share your values. It is also a way to help her understand what the consequences of her actions are, and that these consequences are very real. Listen to your teen. She has questions and concerns that are different from yours. Talking lets you discuss both of your concerns and helps eliminate fighting.
You can teach your teenager to make good decisions on her own, by giving her the responsibility, information, and guidance to do this.The first step is recognizing how you solve problems and remembering that we all learn to solve problems by making mistakes. Here is one problem solving process you might try:
University of Minnesota Extension
UM Children,Youth & Family Consortium
Camerer, M. C. G. (1994). A parent’s guide to coping with adolescent friendships:The three musketeer phenomenon. Springfield, IL: Charles C.Thomas Publisher.
Schaefer, C. E., & DiGeronimo,T. F. (1999) How to talk to teens about really important things. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
Steinberg, L., & Levine,A. (1997). You and your adolescent:A parent’s guide for ages 10-20. New York: HarperPerennial.
Family Resource Online http://familyresource.org
National Parent Information Network http://npin.org
The National Parenting Center http://www.tnpc.com
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