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Winter Edition
Volume 99, Number 3

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Parenting 101

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Parenting 101

10 ways to keep your sanity while raising teenagers

We all have days when we truly think we are going to lose our minds before our children reach the ripe old age of 20. Here are some suggestions for how you can make it through those difficult times.

1. Regularly tell them you love them unconditionally—and act like it!

When you truly love someone uncond-itionally, as God loves us, it is much easier to forgive his or her mistakes.

2. Pray fervently

It is always good to pray, and sometimes it seems like the only option for parents of teens.

3. Exercise, eat a balanced diet, and get plenty of rest

Healthy living reduces stress, increases self- esteem, and helps your children recognize the importance of a lifelong focus on wellness.

4. Send them away occasionally

We all need space to appreciate each other more, so send your teens to camp, to relatives, to college, to work, or to their friends. You might be surprised to discover how well-behaved your children are when visiting others.

5. Talk with other parents of  teens, especially your spouse

Sharing with others about the difficulties of raising teens helps us to realize that we are not alone in our struggles. In fact, sometimes we discover that our own troubles are relatively small in relation to the struggles in other families.

6. Learn about ‘normal’ teenage development

True understanding of the motivation for actions, feelings, and thoughts of teens can come from increased knowledge of the typical developmental process of adolescents.

7.  Have high hopes but realistic expectations

If we have high hopes for our teens but recognize that none of us measures up to expectations all of the time, we won’t be as hurt when our children show their imperfections.

8. Stay involved in your teens’ lives

Attempt to stay informed about what is happening in their lives, even if they are reluctant to tell you—keep asking. Your interest in their lives shows that you care (even though they may not recognize this until later) and relieves your stress. Cell phones can be a helpful way to stay connected. If your teens carry a cell phone, you gain some peace of  mind about where they are and with whom. It also lets them stay in touch with their friends. You might want to tell them that you will only keep paying for the phone if they answer when you call or return your call within a few minutes.

9. Remember the good
Recall what you have liked about your children as they have grown up (and be sure to tell them what you like about them). This will help you get through the tough times.

10. Choose your battles

Most conflicts between teens and their parents are over relatively small issues like messy rooms, loud music, or clothes. When these conflicts arise, ask yourself how important this particular disagreement is—is it worth causing a rift in the relationship? Do you want your children to remember this particular disagreement for years to come? Instead, try to rise above it and focus your energies on the bigger issues.

— John Addleman, professor of psychology, chair of the Department of Psychology, and director of academic advising, regularly teaches Adolescent Development. He and his wife, Ellie, a counselor in the Engle Center, have two teenage sons: John (J.M.), 19, who lives in Colorado, and Doug, 15, a first-year student at Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School.

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