Parenting teens is probably one of the scariest and most rewarding things you will ever do. On one hand, your baby is now as tall or taller than you are, and can manage electronics and other tools with skill you may secretly envy. But your child still needs your guidance as much as she did when she was younger or possibly even more. Keeping in touch with your child while leaving enough room for experiential growth is a challenging tightrope.
According to Kompan Play Institute, kids between the ages of 10 and 15 experience a growth spurt. They change from children to young men and women. "Adolescence: A Foundation for Future Health" by Susan M. Sawyer, MD, points out that sexual awareness develops before full maturation of the frontal cortex. Teens are capable of much more complex abstract thinking than they were when younger, but their brains are still growing right along with their bodies. They experience what she and her team describe as excitable decisions, which means that although they need independence, they still need structure and adult direction.
As soon as your youngster is old enough to walk around the block to visit a friend, it is a good time to establish responsible visiting habits. Meet the other parents, get a phone number and a location before your child visits there. If your parent "spider-sense" tingles with foreboding, don't be afraid to say no. Rules for visiting are easier to establish early than they are later on. They should include getting permission and giving parents a destination and telephone number for contact before leaving the house. As they test boundaries and make new friends, teens can be as vulnerable to stranger danger as younger children. A routine of communication and accountability can increase their safety.
School vs. Work
As a parent, you know that your child's education may be one of the most important foundation blocks for her future. Many young teens are impatient to get a job. Their reasons will be as varied as their backgrounds, ranging from real need to a desire for pocket money or a car. Encourage them to limit their work to hours that will allow time for study and for rest. Help set up a savings plan. Make it clear, however, that academic achievement comes ahead of monetary employment.
Age Limited Activities
According to a 2011 U.S. News Health article, "You're Not Doing Your Teen Any Favors by Letting Them Drink at Home," allowing your under-age child to drink under parental supervision does not help them become responsible with drinking. Surgeon General warnings on every cigarette package indicate that smoking can endanger your health, and every grocery store line in the United States has warnings about purchasing cigarettes for under-age smokers. As parents, we set a far better example for our teens when we follow the rules than when we help them break them.