"Never let your freshman date a senior!"
"Yelling will only make things escalate and will make teens want to rebel more."
"Do not try to be" cool "with them – no matter what you will not be and it will only hurt your relationship."
"Be strict with boundaries but rich in love."
These are real quotes from twenty-something young adults who are sharing advice and comments for parents currently raising teenagers.
Three Sides of the Coin, A Survey About Parenting Teenagers is a survey project underway by Sue Blaney, author of Please Stop the Rollercoaster! How Parents of Teenagers Can Smooth Out the Ride. She is seeking comments from three groups: young adults, "veteran" parents who have raised a teen or two, and current parents, with the goal of receiving 1000 surveys by May 1, 2006. And the insight she is getting from all three groups is quite stunning. [Link to the surveys here: http://www.PleaseStoptheRollercoaster.com/surveys/index.html ]
"Most of the kids I know who are irresponsible about drinking have parents who think they are angels. Just 'cuz your parents tell you not to drink does not mean you will not. " Says Eric, 21, from MA.
Natalie, from Michigan says "My mom did a lot right: gave me space, trusted me to make good decisions for myself, did not stifle or smother me, save me a small weekly allowance but did not buy me expensive things (cars , clothes, etc.) "
"I always felt like I was in trouble even though I was a good kid," says Jennifer who is in college in Arizona.
"All teenagers are too insecure to ask for help for themselves. Use your family to help; it helps when teenagers have other adult figures in their lives to turn to. help. " says a 22 year old, from MA who has some bad memories mixed in with the good ones.
Veteran parents have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, and it makes a difference.
Says one of Iowa about what he would do differently: "I would take the long view. Now that I've been through it and they've been through it, I can see that it's all turned out just fine." The irresponsible behavior, the insults, the resentment – none of it mean that my boys were headed down a path of lifelong anti-social maladjusted behavior Not at all. in a broader context – and been more patient than I was at times in dealing with it. "
Parents who have raised their teens do have the benefit of a longer view. And they can see what they did right, and what they wish they had done differently. Many wish they had spent more time with their teens. Some express they should have spent more time getting to know their kids' friends, taking more family vacations, focusing less on work.
"What would you do differently?" Mike from MA says "I would probably be a little more 'old school.' Maybe a little more of a parent instead of a friend … It's harder to be a parent while trying to be your child's friend. " A mom from NY says "Along with being more trusting, I would be a little more 'hands off.' I was a very involved parent, and allowing a little more space for my teenager might have helped her to develop her own decision making abilities. "
Parents who are currently raising teenagers express genuine fear for their teenagers' safety. The biggest fear is "that they make it out of their teens ALIVE and without anything that will follow them for the rest of their lives." This is a sentiment expressed by not one, but many parents. Alcohol, drugs and fears of combining those with driving are often stated; no surprise that they are at the root of parents' fears. But parents also worry about their teens disconnecting from family, where family connections keep kids safe and centered. Unprotected sex, issues around low motivation and poor grades in school are often stated, as is a continuous mention of the strong – and negative – messages present in our daily culture, primarily from the media. And sadly, several mothers and fathers have expressed concern that their sons will sign up for the military and "come home in a body bag."
To participate in our survey – and we ask you to answer only three short questions – please click here:
Upon submitting your answers you can request a copy of the Executive Summary upon the project's completion.
Copyright Sue Blaney 2006