Raising kids is not always easy, and parenting teens presents unique challenges that have to be addressed. It’s important to dive into awkward conversations with teenagers about tough topics before they make decisions that could have life-altering consequences.
Kids develop relationships with friends and family members early in life, and parents can help guide them through proper relationship etiquette. Talking to teens about sex, consent, and sexuality is important, and it should happen early and often. As opposed to one talk about the birds and the bees once kids hit their teen years, parents should regularly make sure their teens understand how to have safe sex, what the consequences of intimacy too early can be and that consent means more than a partner not saying no.
If these conversations happen regularly and parents do their best to not be shocked by any questions, teens will feel like the door is open as new questions arise. The best time to start talking about relationships is as soon as they have questions. Of course, give age-appropriate answers that progress in details as the child ages.
Drinking alcohol is often viewed by teens as a no-risk, good-time activity. It’s up to parents to set the record straight so that their kids don’t fall into an addiction that can impact them for life. Talking to kids about alcohol is tough, especially because peers have a very heavy influence when it comes to what is cool and what is not. However, parents shouldn’t underestimate their impact.
Approach the topic in a non-judgmental way, offering facts about drunk driving, the risks of addiction and permanent health problems caused by alcohol. There are consequences if your teen decides to start drinking that can follow them throughout their life, such as the negative effects of getting a DWI. Make sure they know this and let them know that you are only one call away if they find themselves in a situation where they need help.
The Online World
It’s important to talk to kids about internet safety, online bullying and the fuzzy disconnect between real life and the virtual world before they are allowed to access the world wide web. Kids should know not to trust strangers online and that bullying in the virtual world is a real problem that has caused irreparable damage for some teens. Not understanding the risks of the online world can be as dangerous to kids as not understanding the consequences of drugs and alcohol.
Keep the lines open for honest conversations by offering teens an open, nonjudgmental environment. Let them talk about what they are going through and offer guidance that shines a light on the path forward.