Dealing with teen drama is stressful for both the teen…
Dear Dr. JPL:
I can’t supervise my teen 24/7 how do I make sure she is making the right decisions?
The good news is that research reflects that teens tend to take their cues from their parents. What this translates to mean is that your teen looks to you to model behavior. You teach your teens about life and communicate your values to them. In turn teens tend to internalize these values.
It is true that you cannot monitor your teen all the time. You can, however, ensure that your bond is strong and communication is constant. Teens engaging in high-risk behaviors are often in some sort of duress. As a parent it is important to be mindful of any changes in your teen’s behavior. On the contrary, if your teen seems to be doing well in the different realms of her life, the chances are good that she is safe and secure.
One way to stay aware is to collect collateral information. Keep tabs on how she is doing in school both academically and socially by touching base with her guidance counselor and/or other school personnel such as a favorite teacher or coach every now and then. Surround yourself with a network of other parents especially the parents of her friends. Be sure to let them know that you are interested in anything they have to say about your teen. Tell them you would want to hear about concerning behavior such as taking unnecessary risks.
You should also let your teen know that you are monitoring her whereabouts. While there is no way to check up on everywhere she goes, random checks are quite effective in sending the message that you are watching. Research has found that teens that believe that their parents are monitoring them are less likely to engage in concerning behaviors. If you are worried, talk with your teen. Communication is the key to clarification and camaraderie.
ASK DR. JPL: Have a question about your own teen and alcohol? Ask our resident tween, teen and parenting expert, Dr. Jennifer Powell-Lunder Psy.D, to help you have The Alcohol Talk with your child. Submit your questions on the Ask Dr. JPL page of this blog. Dr. JPL may answer your question on the blog to help other parents address similar issues with their children.