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Teen Talk – Teens 13 to 17 Guiding away from poor choices.

Tip #1: See Poor Choices As A Symptom Of An Underlying Problem

Some of the most common questions I’m asked are, “What do I do if I hear my kid is doing drugs? Having sex? Skipping school?” There are many ways to respond but the number one key is when teens or children make poor choices, it’s a symptom of another problem. Is the root issue low self-esteem? Wanting to fit in so badly they’re letting go of their own values? Are they experiencing stress or anger at home? Low self-awareness? There are hundreds of reasons why teens make poor choices but, until we can get to the root issue, we’re putting a Band-aid on the problem. Be willing to dialogue with your teen – not lecture – to help them figure out their decisions. If you’re not getting anywhere, see a professional counsellor who can shed light on the issue.

Tip #2: Understanding Birth Order Does Make a Difference

Studying birth order is fascinating. Did you know most of the presidents and astronauts of the U.S. are first-borns? First-borns tend to be very responsible – they stick to family rules. Youngest children are usually more adventurous – the risk-takers in the family. They like to push boundaries and expectations. Typically, a parent and child who share the same birth order share a stronger parent/child bond. For example, if a mom was a middle child, she is probably more connected to her middle child because she can understand what that child is experiencing. The point here is that in communication we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Think about how your birth order and that of your children impacts your communication.

Tip #3: Clarify Boundaries With Step-Parents

The role of a step-parent is one of the most difficult roles. Think of it like this: When two companies merge, they elect a new president and vice-president. In the case of blended families, the president is the biological parent who’s in charge of raising and disciplining their children. The role of the vice-president or step-parent is to be supportive to the president. If children are younger, often the step-parent’s role will be more active in raising the children but only if the biological parent has given them authority to do so. If the children are in their teens, encourage step-parents to be more of a friend. They are still an authority figure but not the one who disciplines. If these boundaries are not clear, it will cause major conflict in the home. If a step-parent does not do as I suggested and acts like a parent especially if the children are teens – I can almost guarantee it will backfire. Teens will often get extremely angry, upset, defensive and mad not only at the new step-parent but also at their biological parent. Boundaries are essential for all families – but especially critical when you blend two families.