Written by: Karen Rowe, AMFT
Parenting teens can be tricky. We all want our kids to do what “we know” is best for them.
Unfortunately, parents and teens don’t always see eye to eye. Parenting children the way
children were parented 20, 30 or 40 years ago is not always the best way to parent. Many
parents believe, “it was good enough for me, it is good enough for my kid.” The problem is,
your child is not you. He has 50% of your genes, lives in a new generation, with different
influences and different challenges.
Children who are reared with authoritative parents are more successful, are able to make decisions
more effectively, have more confidence and develop better problem-solving skills than their
counterparts. Studies indicate that authoritative parenting is the most beneficial style of parenting.(1)
Here a few tips to use when parenting your teen. (2)
1. Aim for Good Timing. When you are going to have an important conversation, do it at a
time that is good for both parent and teen. Find a time when you are most able to focus
2. Strike While the Iron is Cold. Having a conversation while emotions are escalated is only
asking for trouble. Waiting until both parent and teen are calm and rested.
3. Give to Get: Start with a Positive Statement that Shows You Understand How They Feel.
For example: “Dad, I know how much you love me and worry about my safety when I am
out at night, but…”
Example: “Son, I know you want to have a good time and it is important for you to have
healthy relationships, but…”
Example: “Mom, I know you are concerned about the time I spend on the phone, but I
have an important question to ask Susan about the homework…can I use the phone for
4. Use “I” Statements to Communicate Feelings. Start a sentence with a statement about
your feelings, not a statement about what someone is doing to you or a blaming
statement. Example: “I feel frustrated and angry when you insist on my being home at
7:00 pm on Saturday nights because it seems like you don’t trust me to be on my own
with my friends.”
5. Have a Few Solutions in Mind to Solve a Problem. If you want to work something out, do
a little prep work! Come up with 3-4 compromises to whatever you are arguing about.
6. Don’t’ Give up! Remember, it takes a LONG time to learn to do something different and
changing the way you handle things can be challenging. Keep trying!
(2) Mufson, L., Lewis, L.R., Gunlicks-Stoessel, M., & Young, J.F. (2012). Treatment of adolescent depression with interpersonal
psychotherapy. In J. C. Markowitz & M. M Weissman (eds.) Casebook of Interpersonal Psychotherapy. New York: Oxford