Helping Your Teen Decide Their Future
By Randi Morse
For most teenagers, when the summer months come they forget all about school and the pressures that go with it. Children who are going into their senior year of high school have a different experience. These teens are expected to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their lives; most high schools feel that they should have this all ironed out before school begins again in the fall. That can be exceedingly stressful for teenagers, and as a parent it's easy to push too hard, or not push enough. How can you best support your teenager in planning for their future?
Communication with teenagers is never easy, even if you have a great relationship with your teen it's very likely that there are a number of things they are hiding from you. It's not because they don't love you, it's more because that is the very nature of being a teenager. Teenagers are starting to gain independence in their lives which often means cutting you out of the communication loop.
Schedule a time to sit down with your teenager. Make sure they know that you are not mad at them, and that they aren't in trouble. Setting the tone for the conversation is vital; if you come across as too serious your teen is likely to tune you out very quickly. Joke around too much and they won't take you seriously. It's best to act like you were just having an everyday, regular conversation.
We don't want our teenagers to feel pressured, but the idea that they will have no pressure is unrealistic. It is our job as parents to prepare our children for the future, and adults have to deal with pressure often. If we take all the pressure away from them, we're not preparing them very well for the adult world. When I say little pressure I mean that you should have conversations on a regular basis about the different options your teenager has, and to have relaxed expectations. Come up with due dates for decisions with your teenager, and make sure they know -- but that a lot of these decisions can be changed. When it comes to helping your child prepare for the future, it's best to stay calm and to keep the lines of communication open while adding as little pressure as you can.
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