Parenting Your Teenager: Late vs. Too Late, and 5 More Sure Fire Tips

Late vs. Too Late

Every now and then, I'll hear a parent tell me something like this,

"I know we should do something about how we handle our son/daughter, but it's really too late since they are almost 18."

Sorry, but you are wrong.

While it certainly may be late in the game, it is never too late. I often find myself thinking I wish I could have worked with this teen/family/marriage sooner. It's always easier to work with a problem when it has first begun, because there is a time in the life of every problem when it is big enough to notice yet still small enough to solve easily.

One of the many reasons that it is never too late is that in many ways, adolescence now lasts until about 25 anyway.

Modeling Bad Choices

You really can't, with any fairness, get very mad at your teen for doing something you have modeled for them.

Now I am not talking about letting your kid off the hook for bad behavior just because you did it too when you were young.

Many parents tell me they are reluctant to talk with their kids about drugs because of fear that the kid will ask the parent if they did drugs as a teenager.

Parents must get over that fear.

Just because you did it does not mean it's a good choice, and you still have the responsibility to deal with the issue with your teens.

At the same time, if you are currently modeling bad choices for them, then that is a very different story.

You really can't expect your kid to not do things they see you doing. This is because if you are currently doing it, you lack the moral authority to encourage them not to do it.

Going back to the late vs. too late notion above, one of the very best examples for kids is to see their parent change something that, while difficult to change, still desperately needs changing.

Two Important Questions

Counselor, speaker and author Dan Allendar, in his new book, "How Children Raise Parents," says that all children, even teenagers, are constantly asking two important questions:

1) Am I loved?

2) Can I get my own way?

How we answer these over time as parents has a huge impact on how our kids turn out.

By the way, the right answers are:

"Yes, you are loved move than you could possibly know"


"No, you cannot get your own way, because of the answer to question No. 1."

Information is Available

Did you know that contrary to what our parents had available to them, there is a ton of useful information out there for parents of teens. Read Allendar's book mentioned above, go to a seminar, do a Google search under parents of teens.

You do not have to do this parenting teens thing on your own, nor do you have to make it up as you go along. Use the resources available to you.

Labor Intensive

There are a few so-called parenting experts out there who will tell you with a straight face that if you do it right, parenting teens is easy.

I think that is such a misleading and damaging big fat lie.

If you are going to do any parenting well, especially parenting teens, it has to be labor intensive.

Listen to the Music

Listen to the music your teen listens to.

Don't talk like them, act like them or dress like them. It's a guaranteed way to be laughed at and ignored. But do listen to the music.

Get familiar with the artists and the lyrics. You need to know what is being loudly pumped into your kid's brain, because it absolutely does influence them.

Remember how much it influenced you?

Visit ParentingYourTeenager to subscribe to leading Parent Coach Jeff Herring's free internet newsletter "Parenting Your Teenager" and the free 5 day e-program on the "5 Things to Avoid Saying to Your Teenager."

In The News:

Parenting Kids in the Age of Screens, Social Media and Digital Devices  Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project
Parenting during a pandemic  Huron Daily Tribune
The Real Work of Parenting a Rare Girl  The Wall Street Journal
The Case Against Tickling  The New York Times

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