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helpful tips and faith development ideas for parents of teenagers

Parents As Rudders

With a little patience and guidance you can help both you and your teenager through adolescence. Check out these suggestions from Margaret Sagarese and Charlene Giannetti, as reported in the Denver Rocky Mountain News’ Home Front section.

1. Know what your kids are up to. The Search Institute, a research organization in Minnesota that focuses on issues impacting young people, has discovered what separates healthy, positive kids from less well-adjusted kids. Search researchers found that parents who are aware of their kids’ whereabouts and activities help keep those kids on track and away from harmful behaviors and activities.

2. Be aware of what other parents are doing. Kids love to haul out examples of other kids who get to do what they’re not allowed to do. But you might be surprised at the freedoms those other kids are actually allowed. Ask other parents what curfews and boundaries they have in place-then make sure your rules aren’t radically out of line from the “norm.”

3. Go on “boredom alert.” If you ask your teenager about his or her plans for the evening and the answer is “nothing,” be ready to suggest an alternative such as a game, school sporting event, or community service activity to stave off aimlessness.

4. Don’t expect to be friends all the time. Don’t expect your teenager to say “fine” when you tell him no. Kids are establishing independence and will test your authority. It’s okay and even healthy for them to show anger.

5. Believe it or not, your kids appreciate boundaries. A Horatio Alger Association study of 1,000 teenagers showed that 72 percent said their rules at home were “very” or “somewhat” fair. Kids need to know you care about them even though they might rebel at times.

School Exit Interview

Parade Magazine recently asked teenagers what they would change about their schools. Their answers ranged from firing mean lunch ladies to pleas for survival skills to wanting computers for everyone. Use Parade Magazine’s lead and talk as a family about the good, the bad, and ugly of your teenager’s school year.

Begin by asking your kids what they like and don’t like about their schools and what they would change. Then use the following questions to continue your discussion.

* What should schools give to kids? Examples are a safe environment; interested, prepared teachers; and challenging, interesting courses.

* What should schools expect from kids? Possibilities might include good attendance, promptness, obeying the rules, and getting more involved in school activities.

* What should parents expect from schools? Better communication is one idea.

* What should schools expect from parents? One example is parents who regularly discuss the importance of an education with their kids.

Praying Together

If your family is out of the habit of praying together or would like to start a new habit, use these prayer ideas from Cheri Fuller’s book When Children Pray (Multnomah).

1. Fill a basket with photos or recent correspondence from friends and family. Each night at dinner, draw a photo or letter out of the basket and pray for those individuals.

2. Have family members recall the best part of the day as a springboard for thanks and praise.

3. Encourage communication with God by asking questions: What’s something you struggled with today that we can pray about? What can we ask forgiveness for today? If you could ask God for anything right now, what would that be?

4. Incorporate Scripture that you or your kids hear at church or read at home into your prayers.

5. Encourage family members to keep prayer journals-blank books in which they can write their prayers, prayer requests, and answers to prayer.

Hi-Tech Muzzle

Four out of 10 parents say their home computers reduce communication in their families, but only one in 10 is willing to admit that someone in the family spends too much time on the computer.

Source: Yankelovich Partners for International Family Entertainment

Family Radio Concert

For some old-time family fun, gather your family around a radio or stereo. Explain that family members will take turns tuning the radio dial until that person hears a song that he or she likes. Have family members start at either end of the dial, without turning immediately to a favorite station. After someone selects a song, have everyone listen until the end of the song. Then have that person explain why he or she liked the song and share any special memories associated with the song or music style. Then play again. This time have family members search for songs they don’t like, explaining why afterward. Or have them search the AM dial for talk stations that interest them.

Quick Web Help

Looking for some quick parenting help? Point your browser to these parenting Web sites:

* FamilyEducation Network-www.family education.com A great site for all things educational. You’ll find news and articles on topics such as the learning styles of your middle schooler or college planning for your high schooler.

* ParenTalk Newsletter-www.tnpc.com/ parentalk/adoles.html This National Parenting Center site offers parents helpful articles written by physicians and psychologists on topics such as communication, body image, and talking to your kids about sex and drugs.

* Parent Soup_www.parentsoup.com Click on the Parents of Teens icon. This site’s “find it” capability allows you to search the entire site for topics ranging from discipline to clothes.

Copyright Group Publishing, Inc. May/Jun 1999

Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved

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