10 Universal Laws for Parents of Teens

1 "Law of Belonging": The greatest need of teenagers (after music and the phone) is a strong sense of belonging. They need to feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves. If they don't get it in a healthy place - with family, worthwhile friends, clubs, sports, youth groups, etc. - they will get it in an unhealthy place - with inappropriate friends, drugs, gangs or cults.

2 "Law of Hope": Recent statistics show that one of the age groups in which the suicide rate is rising is adolescents. This is the direct result of a lack of hope - hope for the future, hope that things will get better.

3 "Law of Power": Once you enter into a power struggle with a teen, you have already lost it. Remember the closing line of the movie War Games: "Interesting game . . . the only winning move is not to play."

4 "Law of Management": A management approach to raising teens puts parents clearly in charge. The goal is to manage them eventually out of your lives and into their own. Parenting is one of those jobs in which the goal is to eliminate the need for your job.

5 "Law of Modeling": If you don't want your teen doing something, make sure you are not doing it yourself. Teens have very strong and sensitive hypocrisy meters and are eager to use them.

6 "Law of Differing Views": It's no great insight that parents and teens view the world in different ways. One clear example of this is school. For parents, the view is we work all day, kids don't. School is their job. Therefore, they should get good grades. The view of teenagers can be that school is right in the middle of their important social world.

7 "Law of Punishment": Punishment often springs from anger. Punishment breeds resentment and a desire for revenge. Teens have many creative ways to retaliate.

8 "Law of Consequences": Consequences teach teens about the real world. In general, consequences need to be reasonable, respectful, swift and strong enough to get the attention of teens.

9 "Law of Structure": Parents need to set boundaries and structure from day one. If you don't do this while they are young, what makes you think they will obey a curfew once they have a car? We tend to over structure the time of young children and understructure the time of teens. Teenagers need structure as much, if not more, than younger children.

10 "Law of W's": When teens are away from home, parents need to know who they are with, where they are, what they are doing, and what time they will be back.

Jeff Herring, MS, LMFT, is a marriage and family therapist specializing in working with teenagers and their parents. A nationally syndicated relationship columnist and speaker, Jeff is also the founder and CEO of http://www.ParentingYourTeenager.com, where you can subscribe to his f'ree internet newsletter "ParentingYourTeenager." E-mail Jeff at [email protected]

In The News:

Three Ways to Change Your Parenting in the Teenage Years  Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley
A call for better parenting  Jamaica Observer
What is platonic parenting?  The Week Magazine
SMART PARENTING: Toxic parents  New Straits Times

Is Your Child Becoming A Praise Junkie?

Do you praise your child when he fulfils a basic... Read More

You Goofed? Hip, Hip, Hooray!

Certainly we all want our children to excel. But it... Read More

Your Big Yellow Bus

The big yellow school bus is coming down my road... Read More

Screaming Kids Driving You Nuts? Four Rules to Help You Keep Your Sanity!

Often I will hear parents say, "I just ignore Jr.... Read More

Children Who Talk to Angels

What do you do when your child begins talking to... Read More

Water! Water Everywhere!

What one word best sums up summer fun? Water. I... Read More

The Most Powerful Question a Parent Can Ask?

The question I have for you drives right to the... Read More

Top Ten Things Parents Must Know About State Academic Standards (What Your Child s/b Learning)

Public education in the United States has never been equal... Read More

Hold a Childs Birthday Party for Charity

As a parent, you probably know that the birthday party... Read More

Parenting Your Teenager: Self-Decorating or Self-Harm - How to Tell the Difference

Q. I need your help with a question about my... Read More

COMMITMENT: Teaching Children the Lessons of a Lifetime

It's been said, time and again, that for a child... Read More

Teaching Your Children About the Value of Money

We take it for granted that children know how money... Read More

Children and Mom and Paper

Memorabilia ? Children can create enough artwork for an entire... Read More

Camps for Troubled Teens: Disciplines and Wilderness

Parents looking for a quick fix usually choose troubled teen... Read More

How to Create an Attitude of Cooperation

Having been a parent educator and a PBS consultant for... Read More

ADHD: Dialogue with a Non-Believer, Part Four

Dear Sir, It was with some interest that I read... Read More

Planning the Ultimate Kid Birthday Party

Child Party Planning Guideline #1)Pick the ThemeYour child is going... Read More

What is Hyperactivity in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?

Most of the ADHD kids that are seen in a... Read More

Healthy Eating Alone Is Not The Answer

Along with eating healthier we need to be more active.... Read More

How to Take Charge of the TV

Many children enjoy TV, and they can learn from it.... Read More

Saying No To Our Children

Saying no to our children is not always easy or... Read More

Visiting the Library

Libraries offer more than books. They are places of learning... Read More

Help Your Child Do Better in School

1. Create... Read More

?Mommy, I Can?t Sleep!?: Sleep Disturbance in Children

Oh Please, Don't Say Maybe!!!!Are you often a participant in... Read More

Create a Story Book with Your Child

A fun way to build your child's imaginationWriting is still... Read More