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Lifestyles & Community

April 6, 2011

Connecting with your teen

RICHMOND — If you watched the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards Sunday evening you saw Martina McBride sing her new hit — Teenage Daughters.  Martina has three daughters, two of which are teens, so who better to put the frustrations of raising teens into a song.

Martina is certainly not the only person to experience the challenges of raising teens. Parents who were once the center of their child’s life suddenly have to cope with taking a back seat to friends. Teens spend less time with their families than they did as young children. They become more independent and learn to think for themselves. Teens test limits and can be impulsive. Sometimes parents may feel like teens don’t need them anymore. But teens still need their parent’s love, support, and guidance.

Simple, everyday activities can reinforce the connection between you and your teen. Make room in your schedule for special times when you can, but also take advantage of routine activities to show that you care.

Have family meals. It may not be possible every night, so schedule a regular weekly dinner night that accommodates your family’s schedule.

Share ordinary time. Look for everyday opportunities to bond with your teen. Even times spent driving or walking the dog together offer chances for your teen to talk about what’s on his or her mind.

Get involved. Go to games and practices when you can. Ask about homework and school projects. Look for chances to learn about your teen’s latest hobby.

Be interested. Make it clear that you care about your teen’s ideas, feelings and experiences. If you listen to what he or she is saying, you will get a better sense of the guidance and support needed. Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents, too.

Set clear limits. Teens still need your guidance, but you can involve your teen in setting rules and consequences. Make sure your consequences are related to the behavior, and be consistent. Choose your battles. Try to provide choices in matters that are less important.

Most importantly remember your words and actions help your teen feel secure. Don’t forget to say and show how much you love your teen!

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. For more parenting tips call the Madison County Extension Service (623-4072) or follow us on Facebook. (Source: Child Welfare Information Gateway, a division of the federal Administration for Children and Families)

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