Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Author: raisingteensblogger (Cindy) (page 1 of 22)

Why mothers of teenagers worry so much

 

I am on the phone with the mother of a three-year-old when she tells me that her son wants to play with her keys all the time. “I’m worried that maybe he doesn’t have enough toys,” she says. I suppress a laugh when she tells me this because I’m quite sure her toddler has plenty of toys but prefers the keys. I’m also quite sure that worrying over his play choices is the beginning of a long list of things this mother will fret about.

In most households, mom is the designated worrier. From the day a mother holds her little bundle of joy, the worrying begins, as does the expenditure of emotional energy on concerns that will seem both deranged and justified.

The worrying manifests in ways unimaginable to our former selves, and turn us into people we don’t recognize.  As our children grow, so does the list of things we moms obsess about. When are children are young, we  worry about school. Is my child making friends? Does he have a learning disability? Is he reading on grade level? These questions become the topic of conversation with friends, family and other mothers. Each Facebook post by another parent raises questions about our own child’s progress.

But it’s the tween and teen years that send our anxiety into overdrive. Along with adolescence comes drama. As mothers, we must decipher between real problems and normal teenage behavior. We worry about our teenagers’ choice of friends, whether they are lying about their whereabouts, whether their grades are good enough to get into college, whether mental health issues are a concern or just normal teenage moodiness. Of course, we worry about the mundane behavior too — boys spending too much time playing video games and girls being left out.

As the new school year kicks in, the typical threats that our parents agonized about — sex, drugs and alcohol — still are top of mind, but now there are additional concerns because of technology, higher academic pressures and gun violence. Each time we listen to the news, we learn more about cyberbullying, distracted driving, sexting and sex offenders using social networking sites — contemporary risks that scare the heck out of us. Social media posts about teen suicide or young drivers killed while texting and driving send our anxiety soaring. For some of us, high school is as nerve wracking for us as it is for our teens.

Now as Labor Day approaches, many moms are confronting the college drop off, an experience fraught with panic. Our minds are racing with questions such as …Will my teen ever wash his bedsheets or do his laundry? We also wonder about bigger concerns such as…Does my teen understand the risks of binge drinking or the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases? Does my teen know the difference between consensual sex and assault?

Social media feeds our natural inclination to fret.  As one mom said to me: “You go on the Internet, and it fuels your fears when you see images and read posts of all the stuff that is happening.”

In his book Worried All the Time: Overparenting in an Age of Anxiety and How to Stop It, child and family therapist David Anderegg makes the case that today’s parents are taking worrying to an unhealthy extreme. He argues that they worry too much about the everyday aspects of parenting, and says good parenting is about moderation and empathy.

To be fair, it is not just mothers who worry about their kids. Of course, fathers worry too. However, mothers seem to carry more of the emotional burden. In most households, we still are the primary caregiver, the parent who stresses about the logistics and the gender that most often gets judged over our parental decisions.

As my two older children leave for college, I want them  to be independent, to make wise decisions and to function on their own without my help.  I know as a parent, I can try to keep my teenagers safe, healthy and on a path toward total independence.  But it’s really in their hands. At some point, I will have to stop worrying,  but for now, I just don’t think I can. I have gotten pretty darn comfortable with being mom the worrier.

 

How a mom got her teenagers to give up sugar

Raquel and I can’t imagine completely removing sugar from our teenagers’ diets. So, when Wendy  Dessler told us she had done just that – and had been successful – we wanted to know more about how, when, where and why she pulled off this amazing feat.

You are going to love learning more of the details of how and why this mom got her family to give up sugar.  I think you will be just as awed by her as we were.

 

By Wendy Dessler

I admit it. When my three kids were toddlers I was much more concerned with their happiness than their health. I thought they were just as cute as they could be with ice cream on their faces and lollypops dripping down their chubby little hands.

 

They got a little older and we signed them up for dance class and soccer. I thought my little girl looked so precious when I bought the latest dance costumes at Just For Kix and they did just fine if they did still have a little baby fat.

Then I began to see things a bit differently. People started making comments about how my boys should go out for football. I live in the south where “not so nice” things are said in code.

Your boys should go out for football is code for “Dang that is one big kid!” (To which I replied, “Bless your heart!” You can figure out what that is code for)

That’s when I began to pay attention to what they were eating.

By the time they were teenagers, watching them eat was a full-time job. If you don’t know, teenagers require more food than other people and most large animals. They normally eat 3 meals per day and 2 snacks. The snacks last roughly 3 hours each.

I finally decided to put the brakes on sugar when I watched my 15-year-old son pour 1/4 cup of sugar on his Frosted Flakes.

Tip # 1 – Tell them the score.

I have an announcement!

So the night came when I called the family together and made the big announcement. We were going sugar-free.

First, they looked at me and wondered what those strange sounds were coming from my mouth. Then when they understood, they laughed and laughed.

The next day when they came home from school they walked through the newly stocked kitchen that was filled with the freshest fruits and the most beautiful veggie trays nestled between cases of sparkling clear water in the fridge.

Instead of the oohs and aahs I was expecting I heard a chorus of “Mom! There is nothing to eat!”

Tip # 2 – Explain what they are feeling

The terror

Having teenagers is difficult at its best.

I believe that the word “teenager” translates to “mood swings” in some societies.

As their bodies began to adjust to having less sugar, their moods changed – a lot. They would be laughing one minute then slamming doors the next. I really couldn’t tell if it was just teen stuff or if it was the sugar crash. I learned that if the doors they were slamming were cabinet doors, it was probably the sugar.

At first, they would still eat sugar when they left home. But soon something great started to happen. With a little pointing from their father and I, they started noticing nicer skin and fewer headaches.

My youngest son had always been bothered with constipation, suddenly was feeling better. They started reaching for the water without fuss and opting for air popped popcorn instead of snack cakes. Soon they were doing great all by themselves.

By then, I was craving sugar so bad I was dreaming about it.

Tip # 3 – Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The Way

Cheat carefully

If you force your teens to go sugar-free, do not think you can hide anything.

They can smell the sugar you put in your coffee 4 hours before they got home. They are like a cocker spaniel. You can shove a piece of candy in your pocket, sneak off to the bathroom, unwrap it at a snail’s pace with the shower running and when you open the door, they are standing there saying: “You have candy?”

Admit to yourself that everyone needs a treat from time to time and order some really good sugar-free candy online so you can all have a few pieces from time to time.

Challenges

Before you begin this journey, you must accept that it is a marathon, not a sprint. This is a long-term challenge which does not have an “ending”. You will face challenges. When my son had his 15th birthday party, he was fine with a tray of sugar-free brownies with whipped cream, nuts, fruits, and candies (all sugar-free without their knowledge) on the side. The kids could make their own treats. But honestly? If you have ever been in a room full of teen boys, you know they inhale food and rarely know how it tastes. The hardest part is keeping them from eating the plates.

When my daughter was turning 14, it was a different story. It was more about the looks, the coolness and it had to be special. For her, I cut the center of a watermelon and shaped it like a tall cake. The “icing” was sugar-free whipped cream and I decorated it with berries and chopped nuts. You can get the recipe here. It was so pretty and so special that she didn’t care that it was not cake. As a matter of fact, she bragged to her friends that she had given up sugar because it was so bad for her skin.

Risk takers

Taking risks, pushing the boundaries, and bending the rules are part of being a teenager. This is the time when they are about to step out on their own. You have told them all their lives not to smoke or drink. This is when they will try a sip or a puff and if you did it right, will feel the pangs of guilt for it. But they will do it. Because they have to learn to fly. You did it, I did it, and they will do it. So it will be with the sugar battle. You will remove the temptation, offer a better solution, and plant the seeds. They will stand, they will fall, but they will get back up. They will go into adulthood with the foundation of a  healthy diet.

To me, that is a success.

Wendy Dessler is a super-connector with ManageBacklinks.io which helps businesses with building their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking.  She does that in her spare time, when she is not being a personal chef or personal assistant to her two children.

What to do about teen depression

I just wrote an article on teen depression that appeared in The Miami Herald.  For the article,  I interviewed Pamela Leal, the mother of Bailey Leal who committed suicide two years ago when she was only 17.  My conversation with Pam stayed with me for days.  It was clear to me that she not only loved her daughter, but expressed that love to her. Of course, there were signs that Bailey was depressed and suffering …but would any of us catch the signs?

Teen depression  and the increasing rates of teen suicide is SCARY! A study released in May tracking 32 children’s hospitals nationwide showed that admissions for suicidal behavior and serious self-harm among 5-to-17-year-olds more than doubled between 2008 and 2015. As Time Magazine notes: that’s just a tiny percentage of the kids who are experiencing major depression or anxiety or are hurting themselves in various ways, like cutting. Nationally, 17.7% of teens reported seriously considering attempting suicide in 2015, according to the CDC.

In interviewing sources for my article, something I learned from Graciela Jimenez, psychotherapist with the Care and Counseling Services for Baptist Health South Florida, stood out. She said it’s okay to ask your teen if he or she is thinking about suicide, if you see a sign. She said parents often are afraid to ask because they don’t want to put the idea in their child’s head, but it is better to address it, she said.

I encourage you to read my article and learn as much about the signs of teen depression as possible. If you are dealing with a mental health issue with your teen, please share your experiences and thoughts with other parents. This blog is an important place for parents to help each other.

Click here to link to my Miami Herald article.

 

NPR highlights RaisingTeensBlog

Just in case our blog readers missed it, RaisingTeensBlog.com was featured on NPR. Very exciting for us!

We are posting the link. The topic was how parents of teens often need a place to turn to for support as much or more than parents of toddles.  Click here for the article!

As our site grows, we want to make sure we are providing the content you want and need. PLEASE tell us what issues you are grappling with right now. Also, let us know if there are topics you would like to read more about. Looking forward to interacting with all of you!

-Cindy and Raquel

 

 

 

 

Should you let your teenage son try beer?

 

 

 

A few nights ago, my 16-year-old son came home from his summer job late at night and found my older son’s friend at our home drinking beer. I heard my son asked the older boy to let him try his beer. “It’s almost midnight. You don’t need to drink beer right now,” I told him.

At that moment, I was torn.

If I made a big deal about my son trying beer, I felt like he would want to do it even more, and even be sneaky about it. But at the same time, I didn’t want to encourage it. So I made it about the time of night, rather than the bigger issue of trying beer.

To be honest, I really don’t know what to say to teenagers about alcohol. We know that most teenagers will NOT wait until they are 21 to drink.  Personally, I think the drinking age should be 18 because most teens are drinking at that age  anyway.

I love wine and have offered my kids to try different types of wine when I am drinking it. I don’t want alcohol to seem like forbidden fruit. I  have found it is  easy to have a conversation about drinking and driving with teenagers than not drinking at all. I have told my kids to call me, or a friend or Uber if they have been drinking, particularly my two kids now in college. I have also had the conversation about the dangers of a fake ID and how police in some cities give out tickets for Minors in Possession of alcohol. (MIPs)

But what do you say to a teenager in high school, which is a time when parties usually involve alcohol? I have never really wanted to make a big deal to my sons about drinking beer because I know for most teenage boys it is going to happen.

I find when parents forbid their teens to drink or try alcohol, their kids often become sneaky about it. I have seen that firsthand. When my older son was still in high school, his friend slept over. During the night, they both got into my husband’s  beer. The next morning when his mother came to pick him up, she proceeded to tell me that her son doesn’t drink and is still a “good” kid and she plans to keep him that way. I felt awful.

When I talked with my son about it, he insisted it was his friend who repeatedly insisted they drink the beer. Again, I tried not to make a big deal about it because my son did tell me what had happened and said he wanted to try beer in a situation in which he didn’t have to drive and  it wasn’t socially awkward. He never really drank again during high school.

However, I know some parents don’t care at all if their teens drink in high school and are happy their kids are invited to the cool parties with the cool crowd that drinks.

Clearly, teenage drinking is an area where parents struggle – and differ widely on their approach. I am wondering what kind of conversations you have had with your teens. Do you forbid underage drinking? Do you accept that it’s going to happen and set some guidelines? I  would love to hear how other parents handle teenage drinking.

 

 

How to know if your teenager needs a life coach?

Over the years, when one of my three teens has driven me crazy, I have wondered if he or she could benefit from a life coach. Plenty of adults are hiring  life coaches, but I have never really been certain  what a life coach could do for a teenager. So when Dr. Jaime Kulaga, a licensed mental health counselor and certified life coach, offered to write a guest blog, I thought it was a great idea

First, let’s get to know Dr. Kulaga. She is  an  undergraduate psychology degree from The University of Tampa and a doctorate from Capella University. She also is the author of The SuperWomans Guide to Super Fulfillment .  Dr. Kulaga has  two boys,  7 and 10 (not teens yet, but she’s getting close). She works with many teens in her coaching practice.

Here are Dr. Kulaga’s tips to help you know if a life coach would be helpful for your teen:

4 Reasons Your Teen Could Benefit from a Life Coach

  1.  A Coach gives teens someone to talk to.

Teens are going through so many changes. They are finding their unique identities, trying to fit in, all while the hormones are going crazy and they are dealing with the balance of parents and friends. Even the best of the best teens need an outlet other than friends to talk to.

The Fix

A Life Coach can help you to be preventative with your teen. Don’t wait until your teen starts acting out, becomes rebellious, or depressed before sending them to a professional. Instead, recognize that this is a tough time in a child’s life.  A Life Coach can be an outlet for the teen to talk about goals, friends and even run ideas by someone professional, yet unbiased. However, if an area of concern does come up, it will be caught quickly, talked through and worked on before it gets too overwhelming or out of control.

  1. A Coach teaches teens to set goals.

Giving teens direction, goals and visualizations about their future can empower them during a time in life where they can easily lose focus and get distracted. During this time in life, adolescents can be very self-centered and place a major focus on friends. While teens should focus on growing their identities and maintaining a social life, they also need to be able to understand the importance of their future selves.

The Fix

A Life Coach will heighten a teen’s awareness of his  future, discuss goals, plans for work/college and dreams. A coach will also help set smaller goals and SMART goals. These are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. Often, teens set very basic goals that are not specific and measureable and are less likely to achieve them. A Life Coach will make sure that your teen has specific goals with a plan.

 

  1. A Coach teaches teens accountability.

Teens must understand the importance of responsibility in the real world. Accountability also teaches integrity, or doing what you say you will do. Being responsible, accountable to your actions and having integrity can open an adolescent’s mind, doors to more opportunity and overall success.

The Fix

A Life Coach is all about holding people accountable. A Life Coach sets goals with your teen during each session. The next time the teen meets with the coach, he does a complete run down of the goals set the session before. Together, they discuss why certain goals were and were not met. There needs to be an explanation for why goals were not met. Excuses are acknowledged, but not supported. Instead, the Life Coach will help analyze what the teen could have done differently to reach the goal. This process builds up basic skills like comprehension and application as well as more advanced skills like analysis, synthesis and evaluation. This analysis can help highlight procrastination issues, confidence problems, barriers with willpower, toxic relationships and other issues.

  1. A Coach instills confidence.

It is no secret that in any decade of life, confidence is an asset that can increase opportunity, ability and desire to take leaps and achieve success. During the adolescent years, confidence is being built and is at a very fragile stage. A teen who is constantly taking a beating emotionally in this stage in their lives, may have poor self-confidence that runs far into adulthood.

The Fix

A Life Coach works with teens to highlight their strengths and challenge them to play off these strengths in order to achieve goals. The more a teen can see his strengths, the more confidence he will have in his abilities. This confidence often impacts the colleges choices, friends choices and  relationships  with their parents. Teens are also taught how to build confidence without it being at the expense of others, which reduces bullying. A Life Coach educates teens on how to be confident in saying no to people and activities that are not in line with their bigger vision and goals. Adolescents learn valuable tools for building confidence, like time management, increasing willpower, how to have an open and positive mindset, having a healthy self-image, and setting boundaries.

 

If you have more questions about how a life coach could help your teen, feel free to reach out to Dr. Jaime Kaluga.

Dr. Jaime Kulaga, PhD, LMHC, Life Coach
Dr. Jaime (www.drjaimek.com)

Welcome New Subscribers to RaisingTeensBlog

A big welcome to the flood of new subscribers we have had in the last week!

We are thrilled to be building a community of parents of teenagers who can share experiences and support each other.

We started this blog in 2017 when we were first confronting those big kid issues other parents had warned us about. Now we are somewhat seasoned but still, there is never a dull moment when you are raising teens.

We encourage all of you to join the conversation, through guest blog posts, comments and interaction on our social media platforms.

We are on Facebook at RaisingTeensUS , 

We are on Twitter at @RaisingTeensUS

We are on Instagram @RaisingTeens

We look forward to interacting with all of you. If you would like to read some of our popular blog posts from the past, here are a few you might like:

Should a teen sleep over a boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s house?

Should there be text-free zones?

Let’s Call them Generation Strike a Pose

Does Taking Away Your Teen’s Cellphone Really Work as Punishment?

Where should teen sex take place?

Last night we talked about teen sex at dinner. It was awkward and my son turned to me and asked, “Can we please stop talking about this?” But we couldn’t. At least, I couldn’t. I had a disturbing conversation with a friend earlier in the day and I wanted to talk about it with my kids.

A friend told me about a 16-year-old who has been having sex with his girlfriend on a park bench almost every day.  She asked me what I thought about it.  I told her I thought it happens A LOT — especially during summer. But I also told my friend I think there is a case to be made for letting your teen have sex with his girlfriend or boyfriend in their bedroom.

Many years ago, I overheard a mother telling her friend that her daughter and her boyfriend had sex often in her daughter’s bedroom. Her friend seemed shocked. To be honest, I was kind of shocked, too. Maybe it was because my kids were young at the thought of  teen sex hadn’t really been something I had given much thought.

Now, I am thinking a lot about where teens should have sex.

Should teen sex happen the park, in a car, or at some other public venue?

If you haven’t heard the latest news story about teen sex, here’s what has the Internet  buzzing:  Four teenagers are facing charges of disorderly conduct by after they were accused of having sex on a Cape Cod beach on the Fourth of July as crowds looked on and shouted USA, according to news reports.

Oddly enough, I read about this situation right after a friend asked me whether she should buy condoms for her 16-year-old son.  She wasn’t sure if he was sexually active, but she thought he was at the age where she should have them available. Now, I know there are mixed feelings about providing protection and encouraging your teen to have sex, but personally I don’t want my teens to put themselves in a risky situation.

A few years ago, I walked into my neighborhood clubhouse and found a teen couple having sex on the couch. At the time, I thought: “At least they are inside where they are somewhat safe!”

I hate the idea of my kids having sex at random public places like beaches or parks, but I am realistic that this kind of teen behavior happens frequently.

Online comments on news sites about the two teen couples having sex on the Cape Cod beach are mixed. Some people believe the teens were just having fun and should have been left alone by the police. Others are horrified that the teens would be having sex on a public beach with families nearby.

While the teens didn’t exactly use good judgment, I don’t think they should have been arrested for disorderly conduct. A warning would have been enough.

So  the question I have for my fellow parents is this: What if you know your teen is sexually active? Should you make it easy and safe for them to have sex by allowing them privacy at your home? If not, are you taking a chance that your kid will be the one causing an incident on the beach on the Fourth of July?

Why I’m Giving My Teen A Curfew

 

It’s a Friday night at 1 a.m.,  I’m exhausted and my daughter isn’t home yet. She is out with friends and tonight she’s the driver. I want to go to sleep. In fact, I’m in my jammies under my covers, but my eyes won’t shut. I’m thinking about that proverbial ditch that parents think their children are in when it’s late at night and they haven’t returned home.

Yes, I know what you are thinking. Why don’t you track your daughter with a cell phone locator? You were thinking that, right? The truth is I did track her and I know she is still out with her friends in the hopping area of town about 20 miles away. Here’s the thing… I haven’t given my daughter a curfew since she arrived home from college, and now as I lie awake, I’m rethinking the whole curfew thing.

Actually, this summer, the teen curfew has been on my mind A LOT.

A week ago, my youngest son got his driver’s license. By law in Florida, new drivers under 16 must be home by 11 p.m. What a blessing for this law!! Because most of my son’s friends who drive are 16, too, I have temporary relief from late nights awake, waiting up for him to arrive home. But in just a few months, some of my son’s friends are turning 17, and that means their driving curfew by law gets pushed to 1 a.m.

I just don’t want my son out that late. When my fellow blogger Raquel and I chat about our experiences raising teens, we have often discussed how nothing good happens on the road after midnight. I tell my kids often that anyone on the road after midnight probably shouldn’t be on the road. Okay, so maybe I shouldn’t be soooo dramatic…not everyone on the road late at night is crazy or drunk, but the chances are much higher.

Informally, I’ve been polling other parents of teens, asking them how they handle the curfew situation. I’ve gotten a mixed bag of answers. My one friend sets her alarm to wake up at the time her teen is supposed to be home. Another gives her teen a curfew depending on the radius he is away from home. Another has a curfew set in stone and he enforces it strongly. My sister, who has two teen boys, keeps a certain light on in the house and she knows everyone is home safe when she wakes up and sees the light off.

When I think back on my teen years, curfew brings back memories of negotiation —  begging for more time. My sister and I even devised a plan where we would set the clock back to our curfew time before waking our mother up to let her know we were home safe.  At least I’m now on to that trick as a parent!

While by law my son has to abide by the 11 p.m. curfew as a driver, I have decided to give him a midnight curfew when he isn’t the driver.  I searched around a little online for some guidance. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 12 to 13 years old should have a  10 p.m. curfew on weekends and 14 to 16 years old should have an 11 p.m. curfew. There’s not a whole lot of guidance after that. The  experts recommend setting a curfew regardless of age because it sets clear boundaries for your teen. But here’s the important part — If you set a curfew, you have to enforce it!

In their book “Raising Resilient Children,” Dr. Sam Goldstein and therapist Robert Brooks say the consequences should fit the crime and teens should be aware of the rules and consequences in advance.

Here are a few dos and don’ts of teen  curfews that experts recommend on healthline:

Dos

Communicate. Involve your teen in the initial curfew discussion and mention the agreed upon time before they leave the house. Make it clear that if there is an issue, you expect a call before the curfew.

Be reasonable. Make the curfew based on the event and be aware of who’s driving, where they are going, and the transportation issues. Sometimes, a teen who is a passenger can’t demand the driver take them home by a certain time.

Don’ts

Negotiate. After agreeing upon a time, stick to it. If curfew is broken, there should be consequences.

Overlook good behavior. If your teen shows reliability over a period of time, you might want to consider extending  the curfew a half hour.

While I plan to take those dos and don’ts into consideration, I have pretty much decided my weekend nights will never be the same with teens in the house. (Please ignore the bags under my eyes!) I just can’t sleep tightly until everyone is home and that means there is going to be a lot of negotiation and exhaustion. (Did I mention my husband sleeps soundly regardless of who is still out?) I think setting a midnight curfew for my 16-year-old son when he isn’t driving is a step in the right direction — at least for now.

I’d love to hear your experiences setting a curfew. Any dos and don’ts you can share?

A Dad’s Perspective on Helping Teen Boys Reach Their Potential

Are you a frustrated parent  whose teen boy comes across as lazy or too busy with video games to give you his attention?

In honor of Father’s Day, we have a guest blogger who is a dad and a psychologist with a practice in New York City and New Jersey. If you’re a father (or mother) of a teen boy, Dr. Adam Price offers some extremely helpful tips for averting clashes with your son, especially during the summer months. I hope you find his insight as useful as we do.

–Cindy and Raquel (moms of teen boys)

The first things that comes to mind about boys and summer is to let them enjoy it. I often get concerned when parents say they want to make sure their sons’ don’t lose ground over the summer, and enroll them in academic enrichment courses, test prep courses, etc. There are some wonderful programs at college for students, but it has to be something the teen wants to do.

Kids are under so much pressure these days, and I really think they need time to decompress. That being said, they still need structure and supervision. A few weeks of sleeping late and lazing around is ok, but a few months is too much.

A summer job can be a great opportunity for a young man to take responsibility, feel effective in something other than school, and learn a little about ‘real life.’ So many boys I have worked with who have struggled in school really thrive at a job, even if it is scooping ice cream or working construction. If no job is available perhaps parents can pay their son’s to take on a project at home. One summer a friend and I painted my parent’s house. Not my favorite summer, but it worked out.

Depending on a family’s budget there are also many wonderful opportunities for travel, camp, etc. However, colleges are less impressed by a teenager whose parents paid for them to travel the world than one who went on a church-sponsored community service trip. One young man I worked with went on a Habitat for Humanity program and learned that some of the families he worked with lived on less money than his parents gave him each month.

If you are pushing your son this summer and he comes across as lazy,  you must realize that the phenomenon that presents itself as teenage apathy can have many sources, including adolescent psychology, parenting styles, family dynamics and sometimes learning disabilities. Laziness is not on the list. Calling your son “lazy” will only make him more oppositional than he already is. Here are a few other parental habits worth breaking (and summer is a great time to start!)

Stop telling your son how smart he is. Better to praise him for working hard. My son has 15 soccer trophies sitting on his shelf, most of them earned just for showing up to practice, a vestige of the 1960s self-esteem movement. Constantly telling children they are good at something actually discourages them from trying harder at it.

Stop doing the dishes for him.  Teens are not helped when parents take care of household chores because their children are “too busy” with homework, sports, a summer job or other activities. Treating teens like royalty whose only job is to bring honor to the family gives them an unrealistic message about life. Successful people tend to be those who are willing and able to do things that they really don’t want to do.

Don’t let him off easy. Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogul has written that it is easier for parents to feed, shelter and clothe their children than it is for them to set effective limits. But not enforcing consequences for the indolent teenage boy reinforces the notion, yet again, that he is special, and that the rules of the world do not apply to him.

Don’t make him shine for you. In a culture where teenagers scramble to amass credentials and gain admission to the best colleges is more intense than ever, being considered average or even a little above has become unacceptable. But by overlooking the good in the quest for the perfect, parents saddle children with unrealistic expectations. A college counselor know likes to say that a good college is one that fits your kid, not one whose name adds class to your car’s rear window.  Think about this during the summer months and let your teen boy be a teen boy. Most important, you be the parent who teaches him how to grow up.

To learn more, check out Dr. Adam Price’s Book on Amazon, He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe In Himself.

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