Myths Parents Believe About Teens

Parents have allowed certain myths to cloud their vision and affect their attitude toward their teens. In doing so, they set their teens up for failure and contaminate their relationships.

In Closing the Gap: A Strategy for Bringing Parents and Teens Together, Jay McGraw takes a closer look at these untruths, which need to be cleared up if parents and teens are going to have a successful relationship.

1. I can't be a friend to my teen.
It is difficult to be a friend and a parent at the same time. But that doesn't mean you can't do it. You can be firm without being mean, and you can be forgiving without being a pushover. Let your teens know that the rules become flexible only when they demonstrate trustworthiness, self-discipline and reliability.

2. A good relationship is a peaceful one.
Many parents are so nonconfrontational that they never give their teens boundaries or guidelines. How's a kid supposed to handle that? You can't abandon your responsibilities as a parent just for the sake of keeping the peace. That's not peace. It's neglect. You have to risk being the bad guy to give your teen the guidance he needs. Be willing to argue to get your teen to do what is right.

3. Once a bad kid, always a bad kid. Once a good kid, always a good kid.
When you stick the "bad kid" label on a teen, you tell him/her, "Live down to my low expectations. When you label a kid a "golden child," he'll beat himself up when he makes a mistake. Teens change. Give them a chance to earn your trust back if they've lost it.

4. No conflict is resolved until you and your teen see eye to eye.
You will always view things diferently. It is unrealistic and unfair to expect your teen to always do things, see things, or react to things as you would.

5. Share everything with your teen.
Do be honest. Don't be totally open. Your teen may never admit it, but you are the primary role model and standard-bearer in his/her life. If Mom or Dad did it, they think it's OK for them to do it.

6. You can fix your teen.
If your relationship with your teen isn't working, you can only fix yourself, and search for the best ways to deal with him/her. You may not be able to control your teen's emotional and volatile nature all the time, but you are 100 percent in control of how you respond to it.

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