There are many books, theories, and philosophies out there on how to parent a teen. For as many people as there in the world, there are likely the same number of parenting philosophies.
We parents do the best we can with the skills, knowledge, and tools we have. We base our skills and tools on the best current knowledge at that time. Whether it's from family and friends or professionals, we want to be successful parents in raising awesome teens. We also have to keep up with the latest and the greatest as parenting advice and recommendations also change with time.
As we learn more and more about the human brain and mind, we improve our understanding of healthy parenting. What we know now is so much more advanced than what we knew "then". Each generation has their own professional recommendations. And, the 50's had some interesting, professional parenting recommendations!
Parenting "Wisdom" From the Ages (or At Least the 50's)
I loved reading the article on the website, "The List" entitled, "Ridiculous Claims Parenting Books Made 50 Years Ago." Check out the awesome parenting advice many of our parents were given in the 50's.
(Side note: for those of you reading this who were children being raised in the 50's - I apologize on behalf of my professional colleagues who came before me. What were we thinking . . . . )
Introduce Coffee and Tea After Your Child's First Birthday
The reasoning behind this rationale in the 50's was that coffee and tea have less sugars than soda. So if parents had their babies start on coffee or tea, they would likely avoid sodas. So, never mind the amount of caffeine is in coffee and tea, at least it's not sweet.
Imagine with me if you will if this was the suggestion today:
Parent: "Yes, I'll have a venti vanilla latte."
Starbucks Barista: "That's one venti vanilla latte, anything else Ma'am?"
Parent: "Oh, yes, I almost forgot. Can I have one Grande cinnamon dolce latte, in a venti cup, 5 pumps cinnamon dolce, 4 pumps vanilla, 3 pumps toffee nut, 1 pump hazelnut, no foam, extra whip, extra cinnamon dolce topping, extra caramel drizzle, light mocha drizzle, vanilla topping, salt topping, and nutmeg topping for my 1 year old - oh, and kids temperature please. Thank you."
Anybody for a whisky highball during labor?
That's right, skip the epidural, just give me the whisky highball. Talk about a great way to make labor exciting! Like video taping someone's birth isn't awkward enough. Now having mom drunk on whiskey highballs? That baby is going viral!
You can smoke up to 10 cigarettes a day while pregnant
Um, wait a minute. . . huh? (insert head scratching here). To be fair, in the 50's they didn't know as much as we do now about the effects of cigarette smoke on the fetus. Yet, they were smart enough to limit but not wise enough yet to eliminate?
3 Timeless Parenting Principles
Thankfully, we have seen parenting advice change over time and for the better. With the advances in science, medicine, and psychology, we are getting a clearer picture on healthy parenting. Yet, there are still just about as many parenting philosophies as there are people in the world. Despite the amount of advice out there, we have found three core principles in parenting that has survived the test of time. They have survived for one primary reason -- they work.
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, there are three core principles that we often work with in family therapy. We also reinforce these principles behind the scenes with teens in teen therapy. When families are able to do the work to strengthen these areas, we see dramatic change in family connectedness and improved relationships.
Family Therapy Parenting Principle #1:
Communication is Fundamental
Often, in family therapy sessions at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, communication is the first principle we work on with families. By the time families come to see us for family therapy, communication has deteriorated which creates a lack of trust among family members. With lack of trust comes the erosion of the foundation in those relationships.
In order to rebuild and strengthen the foundation, we need to rebuild and strengthen communication. Once we work with families to identify the styles of family communication in family therapy, we are able to help build back up the communication. Once communication is back in play in a healthy manner, we can start addressing the emotional wounds caused.
Sometimes, it is beneficial to meet with the teen for teen counseling prior to starting family therapy. Depending on the defensiveness or resistance the teen experiences, it's important to help work through this in teen counseling then start family therapy. Starting family therapy with a defensive, resistant teen impacts the progress we could make. When we can work our magic in teen counseling, family therapy often advances at a quicker pace.
Family Therapy Parenting Principle #2
Parents Pulling Together, Not Apart: A Unified Front
This principle is commonly seen in situations where there is a divorce. One parent has primary custody and the other parent is the 'visiting' Parent. They start pulling apart in their parenting, in different directions. What is needed is to pull together, in the same direction.
Disneyland vs. Firm and Fair: Separated Parents
Because the visiting parent doesn't get to see their teens as often, they can turn into the 'Disney Land' parent. This is where that parent buys the teen anything they want and it's a party at their house each time they go over. There is little structure of discipline at the Disneyland parents home. Meanwhile, the 'structured' parent is left with creating structure and providing discipline for the teens poor behavior.
The Disneyland parent starts resenting the 'strictness' of the 'structured' parent. They start to overcompensate to make up for the consequences levied by the other parent.
The structured parent sees what the teen is getting away with at the Disneyland parents house. The structured parent starts to overcompensate to make up for the lack of structure in the Disneyland parents house. Rules become tighter and stricter.
The cycle continues and they continue to pull apart in their parenting. But, guess who's in the middle of this parental tug of war? That's right, the teen. The teen ends up feeling the strain of the parents pulling apart. They are pulling apart the teen's mental health. This is where you start to see behavior and manipulation increase.
Disneyland vs. Firm and Fair: Married Parents
This happens in marriages as well. Working with teens and families my entire career starting in 2003, I have seen the importance of setting limits early and holding to the limits. As a result, I'm the 'firm and fair' parent in the household.
Someone else in my family -- who will go unnamed -- but which may rhyme with "life" and starts with a "w", is more the 'soft and cuddly' parent.
Where it may be easier for me to be firm and fair, she may struggle with giving in as she may not want to cause discomfort for our teens. This is something we've worked on where I have had to learn to be more 'soft and cuddly' and she has had to work on being more 'firm and fair'.
You may think being married to a therapist would be great. You may think that, but not sure my wife would say that! (love you honey!)
When we can strengthen the communication in family therapy, we can then work with the parents to start pulling together instead of pulling apart. It may sound simple but in application is can be challenging.
Like mentioned above, it takes a commitment from both parents to take a step out of their comfort zone. The 'soft and cuddly' parent will need to take a step in the direction of 'firm and fair'. The 'firm and fair' parent will need to take a step in the 'soft and cuddly' direction.
But, when you have strong communication, are pulling together as parents, and you present as a unified front, -- you better watch out as this is when change really starts to occur.
Family Therapy Parenting Principle #3:
The Importance of Consistency
You've been working in family therapy and your teen has been working hard in both family therapy and teen counseling. You've got the communication thing down. You've seen how much things have improved because of healthy communication.
Parents are now pulling together in the same direction and no longer pulling apart. You are working hard taking steps outside your comfort zone but you are communicating well and seeing results.
Now, it's time for the third and final principle.
Consistency Provides Predictability and Felt Sense of Love and Safety
Working with teens in teen counseling, there tends to be a lot of struggles with parents rules. This tends to be a common struggle teens face in teen counseling. When we explore this in their teen therapy session, many times the struggle isn't with the rules themselves, per se, it's with the implementation of the rules in that there is little consistency.
Teens need consistency. They need structure. They need rules. They need rewards and consequences. THEY WILL DENY THIS but they crave it. It makes them feel safe and protected as well as loved and appreciated.
Placing reasonable expectations on your teen and following through with consequences sends a message. The message isn't, "you're a bad kid" when we implement consequences. The message is, "We believe in you, that you can do better, and were here to set limits when you don't."
They know through your actions that when they start to stray outside the lane, their parents are there to help steer them back inside the lane. This helps them to feel safe and loved, not ashamed or like a bad teen.
Inconsistency in the Work Place
Imagine a situation with me if you will. At work, your boss gives you a project deadline. Your boss gives you the parameters for success in meeting that deadline. You know what's expected, when it's due, and you get to work as you know you have 90 days to get it done.
The next week your boss comes to you. Your boss says that things have changed and it's now due in 45 days. You think of the extra hard work you'll need to do to get it done in 45 days but your confident you can. You start to double your efforts to knock it out of the park. You work some late nights and a couple of weekends and are dedicated to success.
Another week goes by. Your boss comes to you and says that now it's back to the original due date of 90 days. He seems to think that this would be a relief for you and you would be happy. You may smile on the outside but inside you're thinking of the late nights and weekends spent away from family.
You get the project done. You present it to your boss. Despite the inconsistency, you feel good about your work. Your boss turns to you and tells you that you got it wrong. You ask, how? Unbeknownst to you, your bosses expectations shifted and the parameters for the project changed.
Consistency Will See Resistance Cease in Teens
Now think of a teen. The expectations are given. The rewards and consequences are created together and written down. They know what they have to do to continue to use the family car, their cell phone, and have time to hang out with friends. They also know what actions will result in having the car taken away for a period of time, no cell phone, and/or no hanging out with friends for a period of time. This is where consistency comes in:
If they are adhering to the rules they get the reward. You can't alter or change the expectations without getting the teen and you as parents together to discuss. You have to follow through consistently with the agreement until the three of you choose to change it.
If they violate the rules or their behavior is unacceptable, you have to follow through with the consequences each time. And, you need to follow through with the full consequence. If after the consequence is over and you and your spouse/partner felt it as too harsh, this is where the two of you approach your teen and the three of you change it. But, if it's agreed upon, follow it.
This is often where parents start to pull apart, not together. This is why it is so important that the parents and the teen together, sit down, identify the expectations as well as the rewards and consequences. Everyone gets a say so when it's implemented, it's easier to adhere to.
If you are communicating well, pulling together, and not pulling in the same direction (consistency), your teen's defensiveness will decrease and the behavior will improve.
Providing Teen Counseling & Family Therapy in Katy, Tx & The Houston Area:
Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC
The principles outlined above are not groundbreaking. These principles of parenting are not new. They appear quite simple but if you have attempted to implement them on your own, you will often find that simple doesn't always mean easy.
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC, we understand the impact family conflict has on parents, the teens and their siblings. We understand both from a personal and professional perspective. The heartache is real. The feeling of loss of connection is real. The fear for the teen and their future is real. Let us help your teen in teen counseling and your family as a whole in family therapy.
Jason Drake, LCSW-S, Owner & Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC, has been providing family therapy and teen counseling since 2003. He has made it his career and life mission to help teens and families who may be struggling.
We understand that there may be underlying struggles that teens face which drive the difficulty in parenting your teen. Teen depression, teen anxiety, teen panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, substance use, school refusal, self-esteem/worth struggles, and more can be resolved. Once these teen struggles are resolved, it removes a heavy weight from the family as the family has their son/daughter/brother/or sister back! You don't need to continue to have these struggles. We are specialists in teen therapy and family counseling and can help.
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC, we have flexible schedules to meet your busy family schedule. We are also conveniently located off of I-10 and Hwy. 99 by Academy Sports. The trip to Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC from Katy will only take minutes. For those in the Houston, Tx area, we are just two minutes off of I-10 and 99. Reach out and contact one of our caring therapists to begin your journey today.
To start your counseling journey, you can follow three simple steps:
Meet with one of our teen counseling and family therapy experts
Start today in helping your teen and family restore hope, happiness, & connected family relationships
Other Teen Counseling & Family Therapy Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, PLLC, we provide other teen therapy and family counseling services. Below are some of those counseling services in addition to other therapeutic approaches in treating a variety or struggles :
Teen Therapy for Self-harm
Teen Therapy for Self-esteem and Self-worth
Teen Substance Use Therapy
Teen Anger Management Treatment
How to Begin Teen Therapy or Family Counseling
To begin teen therapy or family counseling, simply contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling through our website or by calling 346-202-4662. Our Owner and Lead Clinician answers each phone call to help match you with the right therapist for you teen and family.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He is a Specialist in Teen Therapy & Family Counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003. Through his expertise, he helps teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD. He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well. Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. We only work with teens and families which allows us to focus on what teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow. Proudly serving Katy, Tx and Houston.