Tag Archives: Social Issues

Establishing Rules for Teens

I don’t know which is worse: being a teenager or having one.

Teenagers are at a point in their lives where they are only beginning to mature. They want more responsibility, but still need boundaries and guidelines, especially because many teens feel invulnerable.

The number one rule when it comes to teenagers is to never argue. The minute you argue, you lose because you put yourself on their level and they know it.

In addition, parents should set clear and sensible rules in advance. Sit down with your teen and discuss the rules and consequences together. Don’t make empty threats, and be consistent. If you are enforcing a consequence, be very clear about why it is taking place. For example, “Because you didn’t ___, you will have to___, which we previously discussed.”

Here are some areas in which parents absolutely need to establish rules with their teens:

    1. Driving. Car accidents are the number one killer of teens. Some rules that keep teens safer in the car include spending more time driving with parents, limiting passengers, eliminating distractions such as music, food, and cell phones, and being required to pay for gas, insurance, and any tickets received. If your teenager breaches the rules, the car is gone. It’s a one-strike policy because this is a matter of life and death.

 

    1. Use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Teens are less likely to use drugs, alcohol, or tobacco if their parents set clear rules about what will happen if they do and explain why they shouldn’t. They may not agree with you, but it doesn’t matter. They will eventually be teaching their kids the same thing.

 

    1. Dating. Discuss when they can start dating and under what conditions. Teenagers should only go on group dates until they are 17, especially because of how sexualized things have become these days. I remember the first time I was allowed to be alone in a car with a guy. He had to convince my dad, and then my dad went outside and looked at his car. He had a very small sports car with a stick shift, bucket seats, and no backseat. Unless we were contortionists, there was no possible way for us to fool around in that car. So my dad came back in, laughed, and said, “OK.”

 

    1. Computers, TV, books, magazines, and music. Decide on what is allowed and when. Keep the computer in a public place and restrict access to times when everyone is there to avoid the dangers of inappropriate websites and online predators.

 

    1. Friends. Peer acceptance is a very strong influence on teens. You have to know what they’re doing and who they’re doing it with. If I wanted to go to a party when I was a teenager, my parents always called my friend’s parents first.

 

    1. Where they spend their free time. Have kids check in when they are away from home or school, and have a signal if your teen needs to be picked up from a bad situation. 

 

    1. Curfews. Set a curfew, but be willing to negotiate for special circumstances.

 

Consequences for breaking the rules should generally not be longer than three weeks. And if you punish your teen, don’t just take away their cell phone (that punishment always makes me laugh because they know they’re just going to get it back). Have them do community service or something else concrete so that they are out of the house actively participating in something. Canceling activities or not allowing friends to come over are also good consequences.

Dear Daughter Letter

After watching Miley Cyrus disgusting performance on the VMAs, angry mom Kim Keller wrote an open letter to her 13-year-old daughter to turn this ugly display into a teaching moment.  I loved her letter so much, I read it on air, and am posting it below.

Kim just sent in this follow-up email which I wanted to share with you:

Thank you from Roadkill Goldfish, the author of “Dear Daughter”. I am the mom who wrote that viral letter about my commitment to parent my child. I wanted to thank you for reading it on the air. The feedback from parents has been OVERWHELMINGLY positive.

Dr. Laura, YOU are the reason I am my kids’ mom. I used to listen to your show on my commute. I was on a corporate fast-track, and I had every intention of going back to my full-time job after my daughter’s birth, but when the doctor handed me the sweet pink bundle I knew I couldn’t let anyone else raise her.

I would absolutely hug your neck if I had the opportunity, and I am so honored to have had you read my words. Thank you for being bold. Thank you for looking out for children.

Best regards,

Kim Keller
The Roadkill Goldfish

Here is Kim’s “Dear Daughter” letter:

“Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you.

Yes, this is what happens when you constantly hear everything you do is awesome. This is what happens when people fawn over your every Tweet and Instagram photo. This is what happens when no responsible adult has ever said the word ‘no,’ made you change your clothes before leaving the house, or never spanked your butt for deliberate defiance.

If you ever even consider doing something like that, I promise you that I will run up and twerk so you will see how ridiculous twerking looks. I will duct tape your mouth shut so your tongue doesn’t hangout like an overheated hound dog. I will smack any male whom you decide to smash against his pelvis – after I first knock you on your butt for forgetting how a lady acts in public.

Why would I do that? Because I love you and I want you to respect yourself. Miley Cyrus is not edgy or cool or sexy. She’s a desperate girl screaming for attention: Notice me. Tell me I’m pretty. See how hot I am. I know all the guys want me. All the girls want to be me.

You probably know girls who will emulate this behavior at the next school dance. Don’t do it with them. You are far too valuable to sell yourself so cheaply. Walk away. Let the boys gawk and know in your heart that they see only a body that can be used for their pleasure and then forgotten.

I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt sad because I haven’t gushed over everything you’ve done. My role is to praise when praise is due, but also to offer constructive criticism and correction when it is needed as well. I’m sorry if you’ve ever felt demoralized because your Instagram following isn’t in the thousands, and I’m sorry those ‘selfies’ can never capture how amazingly beautiful you truly are. I’m sorry if you’ve ever wished you had a friend instead of a mom, and I promise you that I will probably get worse when you hit high school.

Dear daughter, I am going to fight or die trying to keep you from becoming like the Miley Cyruses of the world.

You can thank me later.”