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living healthy

parenting

by laurie segal, lcsw

Teenagers Today “It’s 10 am! …Do you know where your children are?”

Summer can offer older children and parents a welcome respite from the stresses and strains of homework, tests, and other school-year demands. However, it can also provide a new set of worries for parents with adolescents not away for the summer or involved in daily activities. Adolescents want to make their own decisions on their own; parents worry about being overprotective. Finding a balance between encouraging independence and setting appropriate limits to ensure children’s safety is a dilemma facing every parent.

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go with your gut instincts

Trust your instincts. If you are concerned about your adolescent spending long periods of time alone at home, you may have reason to be.

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talk about the issues

Identify the major areas of concern and talk about them with teens. We’re not just talking about sex, drugs, and rock and roll! We’re talking about the everyday issues of excess, such as using the phone and the Internet, breaking curfews, watching cable TV, violent shows, and “R”-rated movies. This includes mundane issues as well, such as who, what, where, when, and how many kids can come over when you’re not home.

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LIVING OUT

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While it’s fine to allow your teen to enjoy downtime, too much can be a problem for your family. Research indicates that unsupervised and unstructured time can lead to boredom, peer pressure, and risk-taking behavior.

collaborate with your teen

It is very important for adolescents to feel they are a part of the decision-making process. Allow teens to express and negotiate the things that are important to them. Ultimately, however, it is the parent’s job to set the stage regarding expectations and boundaries. It may not appear this way, but teens are desperately looking for parental help to keep their impulsive behavior in check.

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ask laurie I’m a bisexual man in my thirties and have a nine-year-old daughter who I have custody of every weekend. My friends or family will often make jokes about my sexuality in front of her, implying that I am promiscuous or “can’t make up my mind.” I want to tell her that these remarks are simply untrue and offensive. Do you have any suggestions? -Bi and Blue Dear Bi and Blue, I am so sorry you are in this difficult situation. Having custody of your daughter every weekend is wonderful because she will be able to see the truth about you with her own eyes. > Start slowly and gingerly. Open up a discussion by letting her know the grown-up world can be confusing and if she has any questions about you, or anything else, you hope she would feel comfortable asking you. > Be sure not to badmouth others. Modeling tolerance is more effective than adding conflict. > If she asks about your bisexuality, ask her first what she has already heard and clarify in an ageappropriate way. > Explain to her that while people may have conflicting opinions, all comments should be managed with tolerance and respect. > Be sure to let her know that whatever your sexuality, she was conceived with lots of love. Good luck! –Laurie

set reasonable goals together

Be realistic and have reasonable expectations. If you are too rigid with your adolescent, they will hide things from you and perhaps lie. If you are too permissive, they will act out in an attempt to draw you into setting appropriate limits. Make sure expectations are crystal clear. It is not too obsessive to have a written agreement regarding acceptable behavior as well as what the consequences will be if rules are broken.

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communicate, then evaluate

Speak to other parents and find out what their kids are doing during the summer and learn from their experience. This is particularly important for working parents who find themselves out of the parent communication loop. After you collaborate, communicate: Evaluate how things are going on a regular basis. Check in with your teenager and be sure to allow for corrections as you go.

>> READ MORE AT LIVINGOUTLI.ORG

Issue 7, Volume 1: June 2013, LI Pride Guide  

60 pages of GLBT Pride: an exclusive interview with Melissa Etheridge, a Q&A with LI PrideFest headliner Debbie Gibson, top movie and music...

Issue 7, Volume 1: June 2013, LI Pride Guide  

60 pages of GLBT Pride: an exclusive interview with Melissa Etheridge, a Q&A with LI PrideFest headliner Debbie Gibson, top movie and music...

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