Following up on my last entry regarding consequences and responsibility , there is another subject closely related to this issue that I want to comment on. The subject is one I hear daily in my office - "I want to be my teen's friend."
Wrong!! You do not want to be your teen's friend. You need to be your teen's parent. Your teen has enough friends. Your teen doesn't need another friend, they need a parent.
As a parent it is your responsibility to help guide your teen to be successful in High School and in life as a productive member of society. This means at times you will have to set fiirm boundaries and tell your teen no. As a parent you are not involved in a popularity contest. You must set appropriate limits for your teen which means at times they will be mad at you. It is okay if they are mad at you. This is part of the process of maturing into an adult.
Despite what they say, most teens want and like boundaries. At times they can be very helpful to your teen. They may be faced with a great deal of peer pressure to do something that they do not want to do and they can use you as the excuse why they cannot do it. Some may say this is immature because the teen is using their parent as an excuse, but we put our teens in a very, very difficult world so I think they are allowed some extra help now and then.
Why should you not be your teen's friend? Because your word and rules will mean nothing to your teen, if you are their friend. A friend is defined as a close associate. Now think about what this implies, if you are close associates you are on the same level as your teen. They know as much as you do and since you are equals they can choose to follow your guidelines or ignore them as they see fit.
I run into this problem daily in my office. A parent will say "we have always been best friends, I talk to my teen and their friends about everything and we have good times together hanging out. I don't understand why they disregard my authority as their parent."
The answer is simple: you eliminated your authority as the parent and made yourself an equal as a friend. If you want your teen to respect your authority as the parent, you must remain the parent and not be the friend.
Consider the decisions these teens have to make every day. They are faced with issues regarding alcohol, drugs, sex, gangs and decisions about careers in their future. Teens live in a very difficult and complex world today. They need parents to help set appropriate boundaries and guide them so they make te best choices for themselves and avoid a great deal of trouble. You can only do this as a parent. Remember, as a parent you are not in a popularity contest. You have a responsibility to help guide your teen. If you want to help them survive high school then be the parent and make the tough, unpopular decisions that are in your child's best interest. This will help your teen to respect you and the contracts you made earlier with them and you can enforce them. If you set yourself as friend and equal, your teen loses respect for you, your advice and your rules. You find yourself powerless and you leave your teen on their own to decide what is a responsible adult.
This is a difficult time for both of you, but if you maintain your role as parent and your teen maintain their role as child you both will survive high school. Of course there will be difficult moments, but nowhere near as difficult if you blur the boundaries of your relationships.
Remember, if you have questions or topics you would like me to address, please email me at DrMike@RCS-CA.com