I often find myself thinking I wish I could have worked with this teen/family/marriage sooner. It’s always easier to work with a problem when it has first begun, because there is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to notice yet still small enough to solve easily. But it is never too late.

You really can’t, with any fairness, get very mad at your teen for doing something you have modeled for them. Now I am not talking about letting your kid off the hook for bad behavior just because you did it too when you were young. Many parents tell me they are reluctant to talk with their kids about drugs because of fear that the kid will ask the parent if they did drugs as a teenager. Parents must get over that fear. Just because you did it does not mean it’s a good choice, and you still have the responsibility to deal with the issue with your teens.

At the same time, if you are currently modeling bad choices for them, then that is a very different story. You really can’t expect your kid to not do things they see you doing.

One of the very best examples for kids is to see their parent change something that, while difficult to change, still desperately needs changing.

Counselor, speaker and author Dan Allendar, in his new book, “How Children Raise Parents,” says that all children, even teenagers, are constantly asking two important questions:

1) Am I loved?

2) Can I get my own way?

How we answer these over time as parents has a huge impact on how our kids turn out. By the way, the right answers are: “Yes, you are loved move than you could possibly know” and “No, you cannot get your own way, because of the answer to question No. 1.”

Did you know that contrary to what our parents had available to them, there is a ton of useful information out there for parents of teens. You do not have to do this parenting teens thing on your own, nor do you have to make it up as you go along. Use the resources available to you.

There are a few so-called parenting experts out there who will tell you with a straight face that if you do it right, parenting teens is easy. I think that is such a misleading and damaging big fat lie. If you are going to do any parenting well, especially parenting teens, it has to be labor intensive.

Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT, is a marriage and family therapist.


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