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Parenting Teens – Accept and manage your role as consultant.

July 24, 2022

Parenting the infant, preschooler, school age child, the grown up is the boss.

We set the rules, structure, expectations. While there may be some room for negotiation, ultimately it is the parent who determines what is eaten and when, bathing and bedtime and activities.

All that changes come adolescence.

While the parent likes to think themself in charge, the developing teen confronts those notions.

Whereas the younger child acquiesced to the parent as boss, directly or indirectly the teen challenges that.

The teen increasingly moves from seeing and accepting the patent as boss to seeing them more and more as a consultant.

As a consultant, the teen takes the expectations of the parent under advisement and then knowing or unknowingly to the parent, makes their own decisions.

That is simply part of the growing up process.

Given the parent no longer has abject control of the child, attempts at control tend to escalate conflict and contrary behavior.

This is when parents must rely on a good relationship with their teen, accepting they no longer hold the control of a boss.

It is through a good relationship the parent wants to have influence.

Influence is about accepting control is no longer and you hope the teen will heed your guidance and expectations, the result of a reasonable and respectful relationship. Influence.

That reasonable and respectful relationship can be difficult for some parents, especially when they see their teen making poor decisions.

For many in this situation parents try to turn back time to fall back to strategies of power and control. It eventually fails.

The real challenge is to accept the risks of the teens behavior while seeking to maintain a reasonable relationship through which to still have influence.

Oddly enough, while not seeking to control the teen, parents can still assert limits, boundaries and expectations around what is tolerable within their own home.

While doing so it is then to the teen’s discretion what they want to do with that.

By analogy, I can run a bed and breakfast with my rules for accommodation. However, if the boarder doesn’t like the terms, then look elsewhere. No issue.

So this isn’t about controlling the teen, but managing one’s home.

Of course parents will have to hold firm in these situations and yet respect the teen who may find it unacceptable and thus choose to live elsewhere.

Throughout such a process, the parent must remain respectful and accepting of the teens choices in view of the limits and boundary setting.

Parents are reminded to consider the relationship, which won’t be built on acquessing but by remaining calm, reasonable and respectful.

So many issues of adolescence can be mitigated by parenting strategies that are respectful and supportive from the get-go.

Even though the boss of the younger child, we don’t wield power for powers sake or in our self-interest.

We remain loving and expressive of our love. We address behavior and concerns through discussion, problem-solving and where necessary, restitution.

There is no better road to influence an adolescent than a good relationship throughout the child’s development.

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I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship, divorce or separation issue or even help growing your practice. I am available in person and by video conferencing.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW for counseling and support – to build your successful practice

Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, former parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America. He consults to mental health professionals as well as to mediators and collaborative law professionals about good practice as well as building their practice.

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