Talking with your teen - Tip #3

Be a parent, not a friend



 3. Be a parent, not a friend

Most teens have plenty of friends, but what they truly need is parental guidance. Some solid parenting advice for tip #3 is to be a supportive parent, not a friend.


“Peers are taking a central role in their lives, but I think that on the really hard issues – drugs, alcohol, and sexuality – children still rely on and want to have those conversations with parents or family first,” says Denyse Variano of Cornell Cooperative Extension.


She cautions parents to be careful in their approach. Don’t be overly strict, but don’t try to be your teen’s best friend, either.


“If parents are not available or seem too critical or unduly alarmed, then they will go to peers. During the teen years parents try to become the friend – we want to have wonderful friendly times, but the role is to guide, lead, and explain consequences. Use humor, have fun, be present, but maintain authority. Parents must be clear they are the authority figure.”


“You cannot be your child’s friend,” adds Wendy Bender-Slesinki, owner of Merit Counseling in Pine Bush and mother of two pre-teen sons. “Being kind and gentle to open the lines of communication remains clearly different from friendship. With friendship, parents lose the ability to have boundaries, structure and authority.”


Sharon MacGregor is the mother of two teen boys in Sullivan County.