Turn the Tables on Troubling Teen Traits
Teenagers. Are there any life forms on the planet more infuriating? They refuse to take responsibility for their actions. They fold up under peer pressure. And despite sending about 3,000 text messages a day, they can’t seem to keep you properly informed about basic information—like where they are.
Where do they get these troublesome traits? Well, more often than not, from you, the parent. Here are some fresh perspectives on common teenager negatives and tips on how you can transform them into positives.
Play the blame game
It started with Adam blaming Eve, and it’s been going on ever since. Teenagers may specialize in responsibility shifting, but everyone does it. Chances are you’ve even blamed your teen for something that was really your fault. But you can teach your teen to use blame to his or her advantage—avoiding bad decisions by blaming Mom or Dad. Suppose your teen is out with friends and is encouraged to do something wrong. To resist, he or she uses the parents as the excuse: “I can’t do this … Mom creeps on my phone history.” “We can’t go there; my Dad is fanatical about the odometer.” “My parents can sniff out cigarette smoke on a jacket from ten feet.” Whatever it is, tell your kids they can “blame” you if necessary to resist bad decisions. If this makes you unpopular with your child’s friends, so be it!
Promote peer pressure
Peer pressure is a fact of life at every age (remember the money you donated to a charity you don’t even like—because your boss or neighbor asked for it?). It’s just more intense for teens. The key is to have the right peers. It’s important to teach your children to stand on their own two feet and be resolute, but the lesson will be futile if they are continually hanging with the wrong crowd. Do whatever you can to get your teen among the right caliber of friends—and then peer pressure will actually work in his or her favor. Maurice Clarett was a college football superstar who ended up in prison instead of the NFL. Now he gives talks to teens about choosing peers wisely. “Show me your friends,” he says, “and I’ll show you your future.”
Require TMI over RBTL
Communication is where intentionality must reach its zenith, and it’s where many parents fail to set the standard. Teens are strongly predisposed to minimize the flow of information. Without firm direction they will leave you to RBTL (Read Between The Lines) about their activities, with interpretations to be offered at a later date, and then only if demanded. Instead, make it clear that specifics are to be provided in advance—who, what, where, why—and that TMI (Too Much Information) is the expectation. They won’t offer TIA (Thanks In Advance) but somewhere down the road… they just might be grateful.
The great thing about these ideas is that they can be presented positively and proactively—perhaps more helpful than the tired old strategy of harping on your teen’s perceived weaknesses and flaws.