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You and Your Teen: Parenting Styles


Being a parent can be one of the most difficult jobs a person will ever have.

It may be especially challenging when the child becomes a teenager. The goal that most of us have for our children is to see them grow up to become independent, productive and coping with the challenges of our world today. Parents of teens, however, may often have days, weeks or even months of wondering if this will ever happen. We may wonder why it seems that the harder we try, the worse things seem to get. Part of the answer may be that the old methods of raising teens just don't seem to work as well.

In the past, the usual way of raising children was to be strict and authoritarian. Teens were told what to do and were expected to do it without question. This was done by means of reward and punishment. Reward and punishment do not teach teens much except to expect bigger and bigger rewards. It also teaches ways to avoid punishment, to resent, to retort, to retaliate.....or in other words to rebel.

Since the 1950's, social changes have focused on reducing inequalities between racial groups and between the sexes. Teenagers, like everyone else, want to be treated with respect and as individuals, with their own ideas and feelings. Obviously, the old authoritarian style of parenting no longer works.

In the 1950's and 60's some parents turned to a very permissive approach. This style provided little discipline and few guidelines or limits, leaving teens feeling very insecure and inexperienced in coping with rules. When teens raised in this manner had rules or restrictions imposed by the outside world, they found it very difficult to get along with others and often ended up rebelling.

A third more effective style is the democratic style of parenting in which parents allow freedom, but within certain limits. Respect for the feelings and needs of others and for developing responsibility and cooperation is emphasized. Learning about the consequences of one's behaviour is encouraged. Although family members are given the chance to express themselves, they learn they cannot always have their own way, much as it is in a true democracy.

Wouldn't it be great to look forward to having a teenager in the house, to have a happy and warm atmosphere most of the time and a teen who is courageous, responsible and cooperative as he or she grows into independence? Well, life is never that perfect, but there are ways to improve almost any situation. Parenting is too important a responsibility to leave to chance.

There are many excellent resources available for effectively parenting teenagers


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