Surviving Your Child's Teenage Years

Tips for making sure both child and parent survive the teenage years.

The start of high school is a milestone for both parents and children. For the child it represents the onset of their independence and for parents it represents the onset of the "empty nest."

Even if you and your child have had a very close and open relationship, be prepared for changes once they enter the world of high school. First of all, they will be meeting a variety of different teens and this will be their first experience choosing friends and acquaintances outside their small neighborhood circle of friends. Encourage your child to make new friends, but be aware of who they are. The early teen years are very impressionable and the friends they choose now could very well impact their entire future. If you think that your child is getting involved with the wrong group of friends, rather than forbid him/her from this activity, try to steer them in another direction. You know the activities your child enjoys, so perhaps you can suggest they join the High School Baseball Team, the Debate Team, or the Chess Club. Emphasize to them the importance of being involved in extra-curricular activities. This will not only help them develop socially and intellectually, but also will look good on college applications.

Maintaining the open relationship you once had with your child may become very difficult, but be patient. Do not act jealous and make your child feel guilty because their life no longer revolves around you. In fact, now is a good time for you to get involved in various activities, and what better place to start than at the high school. This will give you something to become involved in as well as preserving your link to your child.

It's a fact of life that teenagers will rebel. How you react to their rebellion will be the key to how you both survive the high school years. While your child will want to argue with you about everything, you need to pick and choose your arguments. Let go of the little things, like wearing all black to school, but stand firm on the big things, like extending the curfew to 2:00 a.m. By holding firm and not backing down to your child, it might seem, and they might even vocalize their hatred for you, but eventually they will respect you for being a good and caring parent.

Get to know not only their friends but also their teachers. It is very easy once you children go to high school to lose that close relationship you had with the elementary school teachers. Be sure to attend the "Open House" and introduce yourself to each teacher. Telephone them occasionally for an update on your child's progress. Never feel like you are imposing on the teachers - remember, you pay their salaries.

These four years can be the most difficult for both parent and child. The key to survival is patience, understanding and recollection. Surely you can still remember what you were like as a high school student and what you put your parents through. Keep your sense of humor and think of these years as your parents' payback. Remember, too, that someday your high school student will be a parent and there is no greater satisfaction than watching your own child experience the same angst and misery with their own high school student. Revenge can indeed be sweet!

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