Talking with your teen - Tip #2

Choose your battles


Talking with your Teen Tips

#2 Choose your battles.

The parent’s role is multi-faceted in establishing and maintaining communication. Decisions must be made about which issues are important to pursue (those affecting the safety and health of your teen) and which to drop (such as fashion opinions).


If you do not allow your child to make some decisions within a boundary, they will rebel in the same manner as the toddler who has a temper tantrum because she wants to wear her snow boots in the middle of July.


“If it is not an imminent health and safety issue, decide how much weight to give the issue at hand,” says Dr. Paul Schwartz, a professor at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh. Successful parenting includes giving your child the illusion of choice. For a teen, deciding on a hairstyle or some other non-life threatening issue may be a decision she needs to make on her own.


However, as a parent you should know where your child is, with whom, what they are doing and when they will be home. The first way to obtain this information is to ask.


Second, do not allow your child to leave the house unless you have met their friends. “Honking in the driveway for my daughter to come out does not work in my house,” states Dr. Schwartz. 

In keeping track of your teen’s activities outside the home, Suzan Sussman, parenting coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Middletown and mom of three teens, says, “cell phones do help. In the past, the child had to step out of their activity to get in touch. Texting has allowed them privacy from peers. This allows your child to stay in touch without negative connotations and if the child has to change locations, they can let a parent know. Parents should be familiar with new technology.”


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

Tip 3: Keep Boundaries Clear