Of all the years parenting your child, it’s once they reach about 13 or so that they really start to turn your hair gray. It is during this period in their lives where they are exploring and learning how to identify with themselves and their peers. It is likely one of the most trying periods in your child’s life, but with clear understanding and boundaries, you can get through.
The Importance of Setting Boundaries
While you don’t have to turn into a full on warden of a prison when parenting a teenager, it is important to set boundaries. As they’re engaging on a regular basis with their peers and the world around them, they could very easily get caught up in something that dangerous. Teens without boundaries or guidelines are more likely to engage in reckless activities like drinking, using drugs, and worse. This, of course, could lead to the need for them to enroll in substance abuse rehab for young adults.
To avoid this, or at the very least minimize the chances of your teen getting hurt or doing things that are really unhealthy for them, you need to set clear boundaries. Here are some suggestions on how to approach this subject matter.
1. Approach with Love
When it comes to creating boundaries and setting limits for your teen, you must be prepared for the conflict that may come with it. It may even create a rift in your relationship with your teen. So when setting boundaries, try to start from a place of love. Let your teen know that even though they may not necessarily agree with the boundaries you have set, that you do it because you love them, and you really do care. Failure to let your teen know how you feel can make it appear as though you’re just “trying to ruin their life.”
2. Be Clear and Concise
Truth be told, no matter how old you get there will be rules and regulations that you have to follow. From following the rules of the road to abiding by tax laws, you’re required to fall in line. Rules are a necessity and ultimately help them to develop a practice of following rules as they get older. As you set boundaries, make sure that they are clear and concise so that there are no misunderstandings later on.
3. Understand They Have the Power to Choose
Once your child has reached teen years, they are more than capable of making the right decisions. The same will hold true for your rules. They understand the rules clearly and have a choice as to whether or not they’re going to follow them. While you can’t make them chose the right decision, you can make it clear that every wrong choice will result in consequences. Speaking this truth lets them know that you respect their ability to make decisions and trust them to do the right thing.
4. Explain the Consequences
You’ll need to help your teen understand the consequences that will result from making a wrong choice. This also applies in life should they choose not to follow directions as an adult. Just as you clearly defined your expectations and put rules in place, you’re going to need to ensure that they understand the effects of their choices. For instance, staying out past curfew will result in restrictions from going out again. It is not enough to simply say the consequences. It will be important for you to enforce them if the kid gets out of hand.
You will likely get some attitude, slack, and even griping about the boundaries you’ve set for your teen, but it is a necessity that all parents should employ. At this trivial age, where temptations like sex, drugs, and alcohol run rampant, it is important that you find balance between exploration and discipline. Allow your teens the freedom to be who they are, while setting healthy boundaries. Hopefully, these tips will make the process a bit easier.