September, 22 2017

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See how you're communicating with your teen

The topic of communicating with teenagers is fraught with peril. One false move from a well-meaning parent, it seems, and all bets are off. You are excommunicated until the TEEN gives you another chance -- and that could take months. Take this quiz to see if you can avoid some of the land mines that lie ahead when you have a teenager.

1. Making your teenage daughter into your "best friend" will assure that she confides in you instead of keeping events and feelings to herself.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

2. If your daughter tells you something private and asks you not to tell her dad, you should say you won't ... and then don't.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

3. Your women friends discuss everyone's kids. That's really the best way to keep abreast of what's happening, instead of grilling your TEEN about everything.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

4. When your son comes in two hours late and won't say where he's been, you should ground him.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )



5. Frequently reminding your teenager to fill out college forms or study for a test is a good way to show him you really care.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

6. If your kid lies about his whereabouts or activities, chances are it's because you overreact when he wants to do something you don't particularly like.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

7. You shouldn't have to tell your TEEN that you are going to be there for her if she is ever in trouble or has a problem; she knows you love her.

TRUE ( ) FALSE ( )

ANSWERS:

1. FALSE. Being your kid's "best friend" -- especially when the kid is a teenage girl -- is an idea whose time has come and gone. Kids need the guidance and authority of a real parental figure -- she's already got plenty of friends, but only one mom.

2. TRUE. It's important for your daughter to be able to confide in you and know that you can keep something to yourself. It tells her that she is just as important to you as your husband is, and that you take her every bit as seriously. If the information is so momentous that you feel it must be shared, tell her upfront why you feel that way and help her decide how best to proceed.

3. FALSE. The class mother gabfest might be a good idea in theory -- the "it takes a village" type of idea, where there are many eyes watching all the kids. But those who do this are skating on thin ice -- helpful information can be distorted as it makes the rounds and can end up as vicious gossip. Also, if your TEEN knows you are sharing confidences with your girlfriends, he will likely never share anything again.

4. TRUE. Ground him the next weekend, or do whatever else you have previously set up as a consequence for violation of the rules. You have set up consequences for violations of the rules, haven't you? An ad hoc grounding will be seen as unfair. But your TEEN cannot be allowed to stonewall you when you ask for reasonable information.

5. FALSE. TEENS hate to be reminded frequently about anything and will quickly tune you out if you are nagging them about something they feel they already have under control. A better way to keep them on track: Post a calendar with pertinent dates on it for papers and applications, and edit your queries to "Did you check the calendar?"

6. TRUE. The biggest reason a TEEN lies about where he has been is that he's afraid you will freak out and say "absolutely not." Or, she lies about whom she was with because she knows you can't stand that boy. Try being a little less emphatic with your emotions, and your TEENS might trust you with the truth.

7. FALSE. It is important to emphasize the unconditional love you have for your child and tell her you will always be there for her. Teens have a habit of making horrendous decisions to avoid informing their parents of problems because their parents "wouldn't understand." You don't want them to think that way.

If you answered five or more of these questions correctly, you have the potential to have great communication with the teenager in your house.

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