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Improving Parent-Teen Relationships in Your Family


teen girl and mom

Parent-teen relationships are difficult to manage at times. Parents often joke about dreading the teen years, but the joking is a sign of the real discomfort that lurks behind every thirteenth birthday and the teen relationships parents are unsure how to develop. It can be a difficult time for parents and teens, learning how to relate to each other with the new expectations and pressures that occur on both sides of the table.






Parent-teen relationships are often fraught with heated emotions. Parents have difficulty handing control over to teens and teens have difficulty believing that they still need guidance and guidelines. Having teenagers definitely makes life a little more challenging.

Teenagers today have access to all kinds of knowledge - and while that knowledge gives parent-teen relationships an edge because it's easier to see that others are experiencing the same issues and provides reassurance that both sides will survive, it also gives teens access to information that parents used to control. How, as a parent, do you manage your relationship with your teen given the access he or she has to information?

The best approach is transparency. The more direct and honest parents are with their teens, the more successful parent-teen relationships can be. Your teens are going to know about things that you did not know when you were their age. Instead of doling out information as your parents may have done with you, your role will be more of a mediator of information: it will be up to you to make sure that what information your teen is getting is followed by discussions with you that help them fit what they are seeing and learning into the larger scope of the morals and lessons you are trying to teach them.

A good example of how this can work to enhance parent-teen relationships is with movies and music. Even if you don't allow anything but G-rated movies and music into your home, with iPods and cell phones, there is no doubt your teen will see and hear what is out there. Rather than rule with an iron fist and attempt to forbid your teen from taking part in these activities, do two things:

• Get to know the music and movies that teens are interested in so that you can make a fair judgment about the content

• Understand that you cannot control everything your teen sees and hears, but you can maintain open communication and help them understand that what they see and hear does not always reflect your beliefs, values, traditions, ideals, or expectations

Having frank discussions with your teens about the risks of sex, the lasting affects of drugs, the addictiveness of cigarettes and alcohol, and about treating people with respect will earn your teen's attention and respect and improve parent - teen relationships. In study after study and survey after survey, teens are clear about what they expect from parent - teen relationships: they want the adults in their life to be straight with them, to treat them like the almost-grownup people that they are, and recognize their individuality. The more you do that, the better your relationship with your teen will be.