Parenting Your Teenager: 3 More Dangerous Myths

MYTH: If you have not parented as well as you would have liked up until now, it's too late to try anything different.

REALITY: This is one of those seductive little lies that sounds so close to the truth.

But it's not.

Even if you gave up being in charge of your kids long ago, it's still not too late to parent in a different way.

They won't like it at first, but you don't need their permission, and you never did.

You can, over time, get their cooperation.

MYTH: Parents must be in control at all times.

REALITY: Well, yes and no.

If you are asking me if parents need to be in charge of the family at all times, then absolutely yes.

If you are asking me do parents need to control everything a teen-ager does, then absolutely no.

As we put them in charge of more and more areas, we are giving them enough rope, not to hang themselves, but to grow. If they demonstrate they can be in charge in a certain area, then they can have that one.

MYTH: Teen-agers are really just little adults who need their parents hardly at all.

REALITY: Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Teens, though trying on for size some of the responsibilities of the adult world, are really children who are still developing. They need us as parents to guide them through and around the traps of adolescence and young adulthood.

I saw a powerful illustration of this notion at a conference several years ago. The presenters placed several open bear traps at various places on the stage. A blind-folded teen-ager was placed on one side of the stage, his dad on the other.

The kid was to walk across the stage to his father, who represented adulthood. He made a move to take a step, and the father yelled, "Stop!" The father then walked over to the son, took off the blindfold and guided his son through the traps into "adulthood."

Now that's parenting a teen.

Leading parenting expert Jeff Herring is a teen and family therapist, parenting coach, speaker and syndicated parenting and relationship columnist. Jeff invites you to visit ParentingYourTeenager.com for 100's of tips and tools for parenting through the teenage years. You can also subscribe to his free weekly internet newsletter "ParentingYourTeenager."

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