Deciding whether to give them permission, who they will go with, how they will dress, thinking about their exposure to drugs and alcohol… Yes, parents, it’s a difficult decision to make, but they are bound to go sooner or later.
Medical Advisor: Jackeline Hernández. Psychologist, practitioner at Coomeva Private Healthcare
Sooner or later, the time will come when all parents face a complicated yet inevitable situation: your teenage children wanting to go to parties. The fear of something happening to them, the anxiety about knowing who they are with and where they are, whether they are offered or consume drugs or alcohol: these are all normal situations that happen to all youth, but nobody is completely ready to know how to react to them.
According to psychologist Jackeline Hernández, this all depends on the environment they have grown up in, which will serve them to be prepared for the inherent changes of the teenage years consisting of new social, physical and psychological experiences with people their same age.
The following few tips may help parents deal with the new experiences that come with this phase. Giving them a try may help to reduce anxiety and deal with the situation as best as possible.
Have clear conversations
The time will come when your child tells you, “Dad, I’m going to go out with my friends. Can I have permission?” In order to respond to this question, it is important for parents to have a few things clear first. Having a mutual understanding will allow for clear and sincere answers from them for questions like: Who is going? Where are your friends from: school, neighboring houses, the greater neighborhood…? Where will you go? Who will pick you up? By engaging in constant dialogue and communication and by having established trust, potential problems are less likely to happen.
This is a normal process, there is no need to be concerned
Everyone goes through those teenage years, nobody can escape them, which is why it is important to not get worked up about them. In fact, throughout childhood, even since birth, each individual is in constant preparation for these years. This is why it is important for parents to serve as examples for their children when they are young.
If their family life is healthy; if dialogue and communication are encouraged; if teenagers see their parents as people that are close to them, sit down and listen to them, and are aware of what happens to them, family rules will be well-founded and teenagers will be less likely to want to search for a way to escape.
When is it OK to not give them permission or ask them to change what they are wearing?
If the relationship with the child is strong and solid and is founded in trust and dialogue, you will rarely have the need to not give them permission. They will know what is best for themselves, without you having to remind them.
As for clothes, teens tend to have role models that they follow, but as long as they are taught to value and care for their bodies at home, parents will not have to worry about this, as they will already have clear examples of what they should do to feel good about themselves and comfortable with what they wear.
Evaluate yourself as a parent
How long has it been since you spoke with your child? When was the last time you asked about their friends? Have you been following their behaviors? It is important for parents to not only be aware of their teenagers, but of themselves as well and of how they act in front of them. While they don’t do it on purpose, in certain situations, sometimes parents turn a blind eye just to not have to deal with complicated situations.
According to psychologist Jackeline Hernández, many teens behave inappropriately when they are not listened to; and what they are not getting at home, they will look for in others, especially with people that are not the greatest influence.
What to do about a rebellious teenager
Going through adolescence should be as easy as going from childhood to puberty or from puberty to adulthood. It does not need to mean that the relationship between parents and children will be damaged. In fact, rebellion goes away, you just have to know how to deal with it. Generally, rebellion occurs when there are barriers to dialogue, due to parents being absent during significant times of the child’s lives: not doing homework with them, not listening to them or not asking how their day at school was. As Hernández explains, parents may do this for a variety of reasons such as stress, a heavy workload, or even a lack of interest. Changing this will lead to bridging communication between each other.
Teach them to say “no”
When teens face the many temptations they are exposed to in their social context -such as drug and alcohol use or sexual advances- it is important for parents to teach their children to say “no” to certain invitations that are not good for them.
This is a task that does not begin when they are teens. From when they are little, they must learn about values, what is good for them, why something is bad, who to spend time with and who to listen to, among others. Following these guidelines to help them care for themselves will reduce the risk of them falling into inappropriate temptations, without the need of parents reminding them.