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Where Will Your Teenager Be on Saturday Night Part 2

By Barrington Brennen, November 13, 2009



Click here to go to Part 1

Do parents have the right to know where their teenagers are going on Saturday nights? Do parents have the authority and power to stop their teenagers from going out to a place they do not want them to go? The simple answer is yes. However, it is imperative that we understand that the acceptance and respect of the authority of parents by teenagers depend whether or not their parents provided the proper management when their children were infants and toddlers. Were the parents punitive without reason? Did the parents’ style of management encourage rebellion and disrespect? Perhaps the most important question would be: Did the parents provide proper age-appropriate boundaries, structure, and rules that would solicit a respectful response from their children and at the same time teach self-government? The answer to these questions would determine how weak or powerful the parents are in “controlling” their teenagers. Another good question would be: Do dependents teenagers have a right not to tell their parents what their plans are on a Saturday night? The answer is clearly no.

Parents, you are by virtue of being parents, the CEOs of all of your dependent children including the teenagers. If you never really were the CEOs of your teenagers before they were teens it is very difficult to “take over” their lives now. It will be a painful struggle to try and “boss” your teens now if they never were taught how to be their own boss. You need a strategy “take over” as wise, transformational managers of your energetic, adventurous teenagers. Conducting a “military coup” will not work. In fact it will make things worse.


Who are dependent children? All children from birth to the beginning of adulthood are dependent children. All children who are being supervised and are depending on adults to provide the basic necessities of life (food, shelter, education, security, nurture, etc.), are dependent children. Notice I did not say from birth to age eighteen. It is a mistake for parents to


One of the ways parents set up their children for trouble when they become teens is by stating to them that “when they get 18 they could do what that want to do.” In most cases this is a lie.


 teach their children that by the age of eighteen they will automatically be able to control themselves and become self-sufficient, all wise, all-knowing adults. One of the ways parents set up their children for trouble when they become teens is by stating to them that “when they get 18 they could do what that want to do.” In most cases this is a lie. These are words that parents should never say. The ultimate goal of parenting is for parents to teach their children self-government and not teach that adulthood is a “door” that opens automatically at the age of eighteen. For some teenagers, when the “door” of adulthood is opened it sucks them through like a vacuum cleaner, leaving them confused and throwing them wildly around the “bucket” of life. For other teenagers, age 18, the legal age of maturity, passes by almost unnoticed and without rebellion. They were gradually getting ready for an independent life long before that.


Parents, if your teenagers are rebellious or you have not been able to have them respect your wishes, here are a few things you can do. Do not attempt to take over their lives. They will not listen. Suspend rules (without telling them so) and focus or building a relationship with them. Remember, rules without relationship breeds chaos. Start listening to them. Make it a point to say something positive every day. Compliment them on something they are doing or how they are dressed, etc. Take them (one at a time) on a date to some place they will enjoy. Watch a favorite movie with them. Play games with them. Make sure you touch them each day. If you have not hugged in a while do not attempt it now. They will push you away. Start my touching their shoulders, hands, or give a pat on the back, etc. Do these simple things until it becomes comfortable to both of you. Have times when you share your life story.

The goal is to win their confidence and respect. After you would have done this then you would be able to sit down and discuss how they should manage their lives. When you are setting rules, get their input. Include them in the decision making. Your goal as parent is to let them know that their social life will always be supervised by you, the parent.
Remember parents, moving from childhood to adulthood is a gradual process and not an automatic change brought on by a act of parliament (age of maturity). Emotionally and physiologically, adulthood does not really begin until the early twenties. However, you goal as a parent is to so teach your child in such a way that by the late teens your child would be a responsible, critical thinking young adult, capable of making life-long decisions with no regrets.

Where will your teenager be on Saturday night? Why not you and your teenager decide on that together.


Click here to go to Part 1


Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragement.org  or call 1-242-327 1980 or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soecouragement.org 



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