Parents Can Navigate Teen Independence Says LSU AgCenter Family Expert

Diane Sasser  |  4/22/2005 2:13:31 AM

News You Can Use For April 2005

As the end of the school year approaches, your teen will be more and more involved in end-of-the-year social events. You will also note that he or she is getting older and seeking more opportunities for independence, says LSU AgCenter Family Development professor Dr. Diane Sasser.

Studies show that families experience more conflicts and arguments as children move through their teen years. Most conflicts arise when teens are 13-15 years old and decline as the teen-ager gets older.

As children develop intellectually and emotionally, as well as physically, their peers and acquaintences influence their opinions and behaviors. Teens often spend more time with friends than family. As the child’s number of friends grows, parents don’t often know who their friends are, or disapprove of the friends their child has chosen. Teen-agers are trying to find where they fit in and by whom they are accepted; they feel like they should have the right to choose what they get to do and with whom they get to spend their time.

Researcher Judith Smetana stated that, "…teens look to and want parents to provide guidance on issues of morality and responsibility, but they also want to be able to express themselves as individuals." Teenagers depend on their family for support and guidance, but want to be able to make decisions on their own. Parents can help their children make mature decisions.

Sasser says there are many things parents can do to get through the tough teen years:

• Praise your child on the accomplishments made instead of constantly yelling for making wrong decisions.

• Pick your battles. How much does it really matter about how they are dressed compared to how you feel about whether they use alcohol or drugs? Less arguing makes more time for talking and getting to know your teen.

• Give teens chances to make their own decisions. With parents support they will learn how to make intelligent decisions. Listen to your teen and find out what their opinions are, discuss with your child what you think without making harsh judgments. Teens really are smart people capable of thinking about world affairs, views on religion and other concerns. You may be surprised at what you can learn from them.

• Monitor the behavior of your teen-ager; your child will know you care enough to know what is going on in their lives. Provide chances for the teens to be independent in a secure atmosphere; local youth groups and teen clubs can be safe and fun for teens.

For information on related family and consumer topics, visit the FCS Web site at http://www.lsuagcenter.com/
Inst/Extension/Departments/fcs/. For local information and educational programs, contact an extension agent in your parish LSU AgCenter office.

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On the Internet: LSU AgCenter: www.lsuagcenter.com/Inst/
Extension/Departments/fcs/
Source: Diane D. Sasser (225) 578-6701, or Dsasser@agcenter.lsu.edu

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