"Tough" Love With Teens - Guidelines parents need to follow in setting limits on the behavior of their adolescent children.

Parents, like children, minorities and other citizens have rights that should be defined and agreed upon.

You have:
A right to live in a clean house.
A right to expect cooperation and courtesy at home.
A right to expect responsible behavior from your children at school.
A right to a night's sleep without worrying where your teenager is.
A right not to be treated badly or inconsiderately by your teenager.
A right to stop rescuing your teenager and start taking care of yourself.

If you as parent do not make sure your rights are respected, you cannot expect others, even your teenager, to respect you or your home. The rights and privileges of Mom and Dad, and those of adolescents and younger children, should be thoroughly discussed, preferably at the weekly family council meeting (see G 90-1006, Setting up a Family Council).

There are no magic, easy solutions. However, a parent is wise to communicate absolute support to the young teenager by saying -- "I am going to love you, support you, and fulfill my responsibility to you, my offspring, no matter what mistakes you make. You are my son/daughter and nothing can change that.

I hope and trust you will do and feel the same toward your mother and me (or your father and me). So far, we are very proud of you and we feel that we will always be."
Of course, the most difficult task for parents is conveying this message, beginning at age 2, throughout childhood and into the teen years. But what about the teen years themselves?
What can parents do? How can parents combine flexibility with the control necessary to help adolescents regulate their inner impulses? These guidelines may help:

1. Give teenagers clear rules. Adolescents need help in setting limits on their behavior. They need to know what rules are acceptable for family members to follow. They need to know what parents expect and what their "bottom lines" are. Often, teenagers resent rules and test the absolute limits.

But parents should not be afraid of "taking a stand" and insisting on certain behaviors that reflect their values. Parents can show respect for their teenager's feelings and opinions, but should reserve the right to set a few absolute limits about their teen actions. Teenagers gain strength and self-respect from parents who are clear and consistent in their expectations and are willing to discuss the reasons for their decisions.

2. Don't overact. The most important attribute a parent can have toward the teen is patience. And, it is often the most difficult attribute to give to teens. Patience means accepting the teenager's feelings. It means "listening with your heart as well as your ear." Listening, in a non- judgmental fashion, opens the door for understanding.

NOTE THIS............
Your children are not your children
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They came through you, but not from you
And, though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love, but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
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