Parenting teens in today’s society is becoming more and more difficult. If you notice your teenager is fighting with a friend, your first instinct might be to step in, but should you?
With the bullying and suicide rates at an all time high, it is normal to be concerned. However, this doesn’t mean you should dive into a pattern of helicopter parenting, checking on your teen every chance you get. It is important to define and keep boundaries for both your sanity and the relationships of your teen. While some may argue that it is our job as parents to step in and ensure our children are succeeding, this is not always the case. Especially with teenagers, intervening comes with the risk of pushing your child even further away, and you don’t want them to feel like they can’t trust you or come to you during the really tough times.
What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do:
- First ask your child if they would like your support.
- If they would like your support, start by asking the important questions:
- Do you feel like you are being bullied?
- Do your teachers, school counselor, or principal know what is going on?
- Communicate to your teenager that if someone is being unkind that it is wise to be the bigger person. This can mean ignoring what the friend is saying or letting that friend know that you won’t engage in fighting as this this is not how you treat friends.
- Suggest that they try and have a conversation with the friend. They might open with, “I am sorry you feel that way. My intention was never to hurt your feelings.”
- LISTEN. If they will open up to you, let it be known that you are here to listen, not judge and will not offer suggestions unless they ask. This will help set your child up for success.
- It is perfectly okay to tell your child that if their friend isn’t treating them well that it’s ok to end the friendship and encourage other healthy friendships.
When To Stay Out Of It
Sometimes you need to have tough conversations with your teen about how to handle arguments with friends. There will be situations that as a parent you need to take the high road and let your teenagers fight their own battles. This is ultimately how they learn how to handle situations that are uncomfortable and how to take responsibility for their own actions. It is important to let children problem solve, and often it comes with trial and error. No teenager wants their parents getting involved as they run the risk of being a bigger target and being even more embarrassed! Believe me I know you want to step in out of love and you care deeply about your kid’s feelings, but sometimes you just have to step back and let them be a kid.
Some parenting experts will also tell you that if you get involved, you are making your child an easy target. “If a parent is always stepping in, there will be no end to that — you’re teaching the child that you will always solve their problems in life, and that is a disaster, and we’re doing more of that than ever before,” said Michael Bradley, Philadelphia-based adolescent psychologist and author of When Things Get Crazy With Your Teen. Trust your child and teach them to be strong and stick up for themselves through communicating healthy boundaries.