Published On: 18/06/2014By Categories: Adolescence

Parents as role models

By the time your children reach teenage years, you should have spent enough time planting seeds into their brain. We all want children to see things our way. However, there comes a time where they need to break away, find out what they believe and then make their beliefs their own.

11 year old Simone said, “This isn’t fair! My mom has allowed me to get away with this for 11 years!”


Communication takes effort and with practice, can improve. Set aside time in your busy schedule to invest in your relationship. Listen to some cd’s together, talk in the car as you drive; after a sport activity, have a milkshake together.

Remember that children learn by example. If communication with your spouse is bad, how will your teen learn to communicate?

Sometimes adolescents go through times where it is very hard to find something about them to actually like, never mind love. At times you may find it hard to find something to like about your adolescent, never mind love him!  Hang in there it will not last.

Make sure your actions always communicate: “ I love you but I do not accept what you have done.”

Here are some open-ended questions you can use as tools for improved communication:

  • I do not know the answer, what do you think about it?
  • What would you like to do about it?
  • What will that look like in 5 years?
  • Can you reverse it if you feel differently in 5 years time?
  • Do you think this is a wise decision?
  • How do you think that is going to work for you?
  • Have you discussed it with someone older that you trust?
  • Will it change your character in any way?
  • Would you like to hear what other kids have tried?
  • Do you have enough money to carry you if it does not work out?
  • What message are you trying to portray?
  • Who do you think will be covering the expenses?
  • Is it symbolic?

When you ask a lot of questions and afford multiple choices, you will be encouraging self-confidence by allowing and encourage him to come up with the solutions.

When children in the home reach their teenage years, it often coincides with mom or dad being in menopause or a mid-life crisis.  With all those hormones raging at the same time it is no wonder there is chaos in the home!

I’m not allowed

Give a clear message that your child can “blame” you if there is a situation they are uncomfortable with, by saying things like “My mom says I can’t ……” This will help them to maintain credibility with their peers. As they mature and develop their own internalised values, they will be able to say, “I can’t do that, because that’s not who I am”.

Social Media

We would not leave poison candy out on the counter in reach of our children but yet sometimes social media that can be even more dangerous, is freely available.

  • Our children need to be educated regarding the protocol and dangers of Face book, for instance, only accepting a friend when it is someone you have met face to face; not posting your picture or address; being made aware that pedophiles are lurking out there; cyber bullying; people wanting to meet up; or inappropriate conversations.Encourage them to talk to you when any of these happen. Explain to them that innocent posts on their part can be misconstrued. It is not the place to discuss private issues as this can be blasted publically without their consent.
  • On a regular basis review the privacy settings on yours and your child’s social applications. It is worth that time spent.
  • Set up a Google Alert on your child’s name. Make the combination of first and last name unique and add the name of their sports team, school name or town. You can set up multiple alerts. This way whenever someone publishes something on-line that is public you get a notification. This generally covers Facebook posts, public tweets, blogs, etc.
  • For extra protection, ensure that you are bcc’d on every email they receive. You can do this by becoming the administrator of the family accounts
  • Teachers and parents should embrace technology and make use of items such as Mixit and Facebook to communicate with generation Y. Not only does it allow us free access to children’s social lives but we meet the children on their playing field making use of tools which interest them.
  • Like all environments, these tools should have their clearly defined boundaries. It is better to have full access to the free communication and continuous information available than to be left in the dark. This generation is ready to share most things about their lives, but you have to have access to these tools to acquire the information. So, instead of banning Facebook, Mixit or IM, we should embrace these tools.

Boundaries can be put in place like this:

You can have a Facebook account, but you add parents as a friend. This will enable you to continuously have access to their updates and photographs which they share on these networks.

  • With Mixit or IM your boundary could be that they may have a cellphone, but that you as the paying parent may at any stage take their phone and do spot checks without a feeling of invading their privacy. It is important to be able to monitor these things, as these tools become dangerous when they are not monitored.
  • Make a daily time limit for screen time. The dangers of carrying cell phones near your body have not been fully researched as yet so encourage them to place phones in a safe place instead of in a pocket.
  • Have the family switch off cell phones at meal times.
  • Computers screens need to be in full view in a public area like the study or dining room and not locked away in the bedroom. Make sure the screen is visible when entering the room so that any sights cannot suddenly be shut down as you enter.
  •  Also limit aggressive video games as this can contribute towards nightmares and/or unwanted aggressive behavior.

What example are you setting with your phone as well as your time spent on social media?

The Y generation is the most honest of all the generations. They readily share their thoughts, photos and experiences. The social media is a great way of keeping in touch with what is going on in your child’s life.

Taking on a project together is a great social activity that promotes discussion, for instance;

  1. Build a tree house
  2. Paint a room or the house
  3. Develop a vegetable garden
  4. Build a go-cart
  5. Spring clean the attach or garage
  6. Do some quilting/sewing/knitting projects
  7. Research something together
  8. Cycle as a family
  9. Wash the car together
  10. Plan an outing/long weekend/ holiday together
  11. Visit a hospital, old age home, orphanage
  12. ‘Adopt’ an orphan in another country
  13. Together go through a series from an author like C S Lewis

Boundaries and rules clarify potential problem areas so that there are no misunderstandings or grey areas. I found this example on the internet. It is a contract that a mom gave her 13 year old when she bought him an iPhone. I think it is a brilliant idea! You can compile your own.

Dear Gregory

Merry Christmas! You are now the proud owner of an iPhone. Hot Damn! You are a good and responsible 13-year-old boy and you deserve this gift. But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations. Please read through the following contract. I hope that you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it. Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.

  • I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.
  • It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
  •  I will always know the password.
  • If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad.” Not ever.
  •  Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 p.m. every school night and every weekend night at 9:00 p.m. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30 a.m. If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
  • It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill. *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
  • If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs. Mow a lawn, babysit, stash some birthday money. It will happen, you should be prepared.
  • Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
  • Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
  • Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room. Censor yourself.
  • No porn. Search the web for information you would openly share with me. If you have a question about anything, ask a person — preferably me or your father.
  • Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
  • Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.
  • Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
  • Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.
  • Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
  • Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.
  • You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. You and I, we are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together.

It is my hope that you can agree to these terms. Most of the lessons listed here do not just apply to the iPhone, but to life. You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world. It is exciting and enticing. Keep it simple every chance you get. Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine. I love you. I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.



Later a humourous comment was made:

But perhaps when it’s time for the kid to take care of his mother in her old age, he can turn the tables.

Dear Mom,
Welcome to Sundown retirement community.I hope you enjoy your new home.You’d better.  I’m paying for it, along with your social security and Medicare.Don’t I rock?That said, no branded drugs. Only generics.And no cable TV in your room.
You can watch in the lounge like everybody else.

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