Parents of teens worry about their child driving more than anything else, including drugs and alcohol and academic performance, according to a Harris Poll commissioned by Chevrolet. This poll is telling of the stresses of parents, including their teen’s sexual activity and problems with friends. How you deal with your teen’s major milestones and how you support them can actually help strengthen your relationship.
Navigating romantic relationships
Your teen’s romantic relationships can stir up anxiety in your entire family. Suddenly they want to spend more time with their new love and less time with you. You might be trying to negotiate how much family time should be a priority, but it’s also crucial to teach teens about respect. Let them know their significant other’s emotional well-being and security are important, and how to treat them with kindness, transparency, and respect.
Don’t stop talking to your teen about their love life just because they clam up or get embarrassed. Bring up the topic occasionally and let them know you’re there for them to talk to and work out problems without judgment. It’s also important to set firm rules about dating including curfews, your expectations regarding physical contact and where they can and can’t go alone.
Learning to drive
Teens embrace learning to drive as a sign of ultimate independence, but it’s also a big responsibility. Talk through the seriousness of getting behind the wheel and help them prepare for their learner’s permit. A driver’s manual is a good place to start, and a site like Driving Tests can walk through simulations and practice questions to help them nail their learner’s permit.
Once your teen has secured their learner’s permit, put in the time to go on practice drives on a regular basis. Use the time to reconnect while focusing on the responsibility they’re undertaking. Letting them know you’re available for practice driving can also help them build confidence on the road and in your supportive relationship.
Using social media
In today’s digital world, it’s becoming the norm for teens and even tweens to take the plunge into social media. While they may have already used it some to communicate with grandparents and friends who moved away, teenagers start to use social media on their own to talk privately and form an online identity.
Set firm rules about what type of social media platforms are acceptable, and what type of behavior is appropriate. Let them know that you expect to be able to review their social media activity from time to time, and how to stay safe online. For example, let your teen know to never pose for unseemly photos, participate in online bullying or foster secret relationships with strangers.
Applying to college
It’s an exciting, bittersweet time for parents when their teens are on the cusp of adulthood and ready to choose a college. Discuss your teen’s options from any college savings to living at home and attending a community college. Talk about what you expect from their behavior during college, and what type of environments to expect. For example, a wallflower might not thrive on a big party campus where football reigns.
Walk through the application process with your teen, and encourage them to apply for scholarships. Tell them to apply to a handful of colleges to make an informed decision, and research different campuses together as a family. The more interest you take in your teen’s education, the more they’ll take it seriously as a rite of passage that deserves respect.