to Create Out of Control Teens
Top Ten Steps for Parents of Teenagers
These ten easy rules will lead your teen into disaster. An experienced
social worker provides professional advice on behaviors parents of teenagers
will want to avoid.
By Pamela Lowell, author of Returnable
- Parents: you should laugh or think its amusing, or simply do
nothing when your kids disrespect or challenge you or other adults (especially
when they are youngsters). This will set them up for a lifetime of thinking
they don't have to follow the rules.
- Adopt a boys will be boys attitude about teen drinking,
athletic hazing, smoking pot, staying out past curfew, or vandalizing
the neighborhood. Ditto for girls.
- Minimize consequences to help their high school resume
stay clean. Challenge the schools rules of conduct if they get
into trouble. Always help your kids with their homework (college essays
etc.) so their work is much better than the kids who do it themselves.
Insist that your teens stand up to teachers when they dont get
the grade they think they deserve.
- After your children reach a certain age (certainly after fifteen)
never ask where they are going, or call other parents to check on their
whereabouts. Leave them home alone a lot to help build their independence.
Dont give up your social life, especially on weekends and/or if
you are home, let your teen spend lots of time unsupervised (at least
you know where they are). Always try to be the cool parent who says
yes so that all their friends will like you--never mind
the nerdy parents whom you might be driving crazy.
- Dont search your teen's room for drugs, listen in on phone calls,
check their computers for downloaded porn, etc. because their privacy
is much more important than any suspicions you might have. In light
of that, dont share information with other parents when you hear
that their child may be in trouble because they might get mad at you.
Most importantly, be sure to become defensive when anyone questions
your parenting--or the behavior of your teen.
- Jobs are for after college graduation. High school is for fun.
- Dont seek professional help if your teen often seems angry,
depressed, rude, high, drunk, or is failing in school. This is a phase
that all teens go through.
- Undermine your spouse by being the soft touch, and disagree with him
or her, often, in front of your teen.
- Devote your life to arranging your childs schedule and activities.
Prompt them to get ahead no matter what the cost. Dont take care
of yourself and overwork or overvolunteer. Feel guilty when you cant
provide them with all of the material things they desire: remember the
latest clothes/electronics/car is more important than time spent with
- Believe your kids when they tell you to leave them alone, get out
of their life, and let them make all of their own decisions all of the
time--after all, they are teenagers, they know everything.
Pamela Lowell is a licensed clinical social worker
in private practice in the East Bay, Rhode Island. Her novel, Returnable
Girl is about a teen in foster care who must choose between the woman
who wants to adopt her and the mother who abandoned her all amidst the perils
of middle school. Read our review of Returnable