We have become parents of teenagers.
A new and daunting stage in our marriage is upon us.
We have found out very quickly that it is very important to set limits, but also at this age we have to be able to explain to them clearly why it is important to have a curfew and house rules. A teenager will no longer accept the always useful, up to now: "because I say so, period".
I remember how it was for me when I was a teen; we went to a great party and it seemed that we had to leave when the fun was about to begin. I still can recall the feeling of frustration caused by having to leave the great music, new friends, dance, food. The certainty that something really exciting would happen when I left and I would miss it!!! I had to do anything to stay past curfew... sound familiar?
I just read this great book by Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D. "Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent's Guide to the New Teenager". I highly recommended it as an excellent guide to understanding the teenagers' literal metamorphosis during their teenage years and our role in preventing a huge disaster.
As Dr. Wolf writes in his book: "Prior to adolescence, when a child screws up, the worst that can happen is that he will suffer...But during adolescence mistakes are not so easily forgotten or forgiven by the world. They can count. To do badly in school, to succumb to drugs or alcohol, to allow oneself to become pregnant, all can lead to problems affecting the rest of one's life. Mistakes in adolescence not only can hurt; they can cause problems that do not go away."
Teenagers know they will make mistakes, they also know that we love them and that is why we have these rules. They can't stand to have someone telling them what to do. They want to be on their own and to be trusted. Dr. Wolf says: "In general, the judgement of a teenager is not as good as that of an adult. An adolescent simply has not been through it before. Even with parental controls teenager will still make bad decisions, but without such controls there is no question they will make even more bad decisions."
"And yet it is precisely this parental concern which assures that their children do not feel alone." Someone is watching over them.
So (we are finding out the hard way), setting limits and having written house rules are a very important part of parenting teens.