Talking to and listening to teenagers is invaluable. Just as important, if not more so, is to model the behavior expected of children of all ages. Honesty, integrity, sincerity, helpfulness, ambition, hard-work, whatever you value, be sure you are demonstrating those behaviors you expect your children to imitate. “Do as I say and not as I do” didn’t work on the current generation of parents when they were given this instruction, and it won’t work on this current generation of kids, either.
If community involvement is important to you, volunteering together as a family serves several purposes: making the world a better place to live and spending time with your children. Teenage girls and teenage boys may have different preferences in how and where they serve, and their preferences should be kept in mind. This is one area where it’s a good idea to compromise in order to make your point and encourage their volunteering. Another benefit of serving in the community is that children learn the world is bigger than their daily lives, and they grow to understand the importance of accepting personal responsibility for their actions and their contribution to society.
It is important for families to have clearly established rules and consequences for breaking them. When children are away from home, parents should know where their children are, who they are with, and what they are doing. Teenage girls and teenage boys may protest that they don’t need such close scrutiny, but some sobering statistics prove them wrong. Median age for first intercourse for both boys and girls is about 17 years old – a bit earlier for boys and a bit later for girls, according to several polls. Among 15 – 16 year olds slightly more than half of those polled said they were concerned they may have unplanned sexual intercourse when they were drinking or using drugs.
While these statistics are somewhat frightening, there is good news. The national average rate for abortions and unplanned pregnancies is on the downturn among women under 20. And schools and the media are being pressured to provide more comprehensive sex education and substance abuse education in the schools. The primary responsibility for educating children about sexual activity, drug use, and other potentially life-altering decisions, rests with parents though.
Teenage girls and teenage boys need their parents to be involved in their lives. They desire an open, comfortable relationship with their parents and seek the approval and support of their parents when they have a good relationship with them.
Pink or Blue, indeed!