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Take Time for Your Teen

By: Christina Botto

Kids and Teens BookWire's "Year in Reviews Magazine," December 2006 issue, lists a review of my book "Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-step Guide for Parents that Works."

All in all a very positive review, the reviewer states: "Help Me With My Teenager!" speaks in a clear and understandable language directly to parents. Some techniques, such as stopping whatever you're doing when your kid is ready to talk, will be difficult for already busy parents to implement. However, the extra effort promises to pay excellent dividends in form of a healthier, more supportive relationship."

I never said it was easy or that no effort on the parent's part is necessary. As a matter of fact, throughout my book I emphasize that parents will need to utilize a lot of self control and implement strategies before responding to their teen's actions or questions. The statement "stopping whatever you're doing will be difficult to implement for already busy parents" touches on one of the most important factors when it comes to parenting your teenager.

To put this issue into perspective, here is the following analogy:

Consider you are working for a large company, managing a department of several employees. You double task by managing your group as well as working on projects assigned to you by your supervisor.

What do you do when one of your employees interrupts you with a question while you are focusing on your project? - You stop. Not because you want to, but because you have to. Your management position requires it. If you choose to tell your employee: "Come back later" or "I really cannot deal with this right now" you are not doing your job as a manager and your review will reflect this. Furthermore, your employees will stop coming to you with their questions, deal with their problems the best way they see how, and eventually your department will be in a state of complete chaos. Your boss wants to speak with you for a moment behind closed doors? There is a very good chance you saw that coming.

Being a manager, guiding other employees so they will succeed and excel in what they're doing is what upper management expects of you. It's a duty that you cannot ignore if you want to keep your job.

Parenting your teenager is very similar to being a manager. However, instead of guiding and assisting strangers, you are supporting and helping you own child. Are you sure you want to leave your teenager to fend on his own because you're an "already busy parent?"

Busy parents are also stressed parents. We cannot escape the duties of our individual jobs, so we try to keep additional pressures at bay if we can. It's so easy to tell your teen that you really don't have time for him now. He'll say "OK" and walk away -- you're ready to continue with whatever you were doing. By avoiding listening to your teen when he needed your opinion or help you saved yourself five minutes.

For your teenager, however, these five minutes would have meant getting your help and advice instead of being left to deal with his issue on his own. They would have meant that he is important enough for you to stop what you're doing and help him, instead of being scolded for interrupting your busy life. They would have given him the security blanket he needs as he is trying to gain confidence in himself and his decisions.

There is no fear of a bad review when it comes to your teen -- or is there? If your teen has to deal with an issue without your support and fails -- do you yell at him? Do you add insult to injury by telling him he should have come to you, forgetting that you told him you had no time and sent him away when he did?

You want your teen to stay out of trouble and you want your teen to succeed. He cannot do that alone, he needs your guidance and support. Your time is needed, not just for a better relationship with your teenager, but for your teen to resist peer pressure, stay out of trouble and not start to drink, use drugs or get depressed. To resist and cope with the pressures of growing up, your teen needs to know that he matters in your life and that he can come to you for help and advice. Your teen needs you - even if he acts otherwise.

Christina Botto is the author of Help Me With My Teenager! A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents that Works and Fitting The Pieces. For tools and resources to help you better understand and relate to your teen, or help with specific issues visit her web site at Parenting A Teenager.
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