Your teenager needs you in their life more than ever. While most parents stay heavily involved in the academic and social lives of their younger children, the level of parental involvement sharply declines when children reach their teenage years. Research shows that adolescents with quality parental involvement are more likely to have higher success with academic, behavioral and emotional issues.
Although your teenager seeks independence, you can remain active in his or her life and set them up for future success in many ways:
The two most important environments in a teenager's life are home and school. As a parent, you need to keep the lines of communication open in both places. Many parents wrongly assume that their adolescents do not listen to them or value what they have to say, but evidence shows that your teenager is looking to you more than ever for guidance.
Although they might act indifferent towards you, they need you to provide gentle authority, continued advice and most of all, unconditional love. Early on, commit to having conversations about important topics such as alcohol, drugs, bullying and sex that expand over time. Listen to your child and allow him or her to offer input in some decisions, showing that you value their opinions. Take an interest in their hobbies and get to know their friends.
Even though few school activities involve high schoolers and their parents, you can still get involved in many ways. Know who their teachers are. Be aware of school policies and curriculum so you can help your child balance school expectations and stay organized. Most schools have websites that contain information about grades and assignments that you can view with your teen to ensure that they are on the right track. Volunteer and get to know parents and others in the school community.
As children age, parents shift from managing their lives to providing supervision and advice. Don't neglect this shift. Teenagers thrive on structure. Set ground rules so they know what your expectations are and what the consequences will be for not following them. Help your teenager learn strong study habits. Establish study guidelines and limit the use of electronic devices during homework time. Once your teen gets behind the wheel, clarify your expectations regarding the consequences of drinking and driving. This level of communication and structure will help set your teen up for success.
Maintain a positive and nurturing relationship with your teenager. Listen with an open mind and heart and stay receptive to their ideas and opinions. Respect their need for privacy. By validating their feelings and giving them the space they need to become more independent, you are creating an environment of trust with your teenager that will hopefully last a lifetime.