Being the father of a troubled teen is so difficult. On one hand, you know that you need to show them love and compassion but on the other, you want to set stern boundaries and mete out discipline when they are crossed.
To complicate matters, your teen has probably made some questionable decisions in the past and you might feel that your parenting style is partly to blame. You end up second-guessing yourself, thinking maybe you were too strict or too lenient with them. All these thoughts and doubts running through your mind can leave you struggling to find positive coping methods for parenting your difficult teen.
Finding The Right Balance
The key to raising troubled teens lies in finding the sweet spot between love and discipline. Become too much of a disciplinarian and you risk sparking rebellion in your teen. Conversely, being too permissive might cause them to think that rules don’t apply to them, leading to a host of problems in school and other areas of their lives.
Thankfully, it’s possible to find a healthy balance between being a loving father and disciplinarian of a troubled teen while maintaining a good relationship with them.
Here are tips on how to go about it:
Pick your battles.
Most parents often have lots of specific rules relating to everything from religion and sexual activity to dressing and extracurricular activities. As teens start seeking autonomy, they might start disobeying some of these rules. In such cases, decide which rules you can relax and which ones are non-negotiable. This helps minimize arguments in your family.
Let your teen have a say in setting rules and consequences.
Your teen is more likely to adhere to rules if they play a role in setting them. You still have a final say in the matter so ensure that you set age-appropriate limits and reasonable boundaries.
Allow them to experience the consequences of their actions.
Once you’ve set a rule, stick to it and let your child reap the consequences of their behavior as long as the situation isn’t life-threatening. This will help them learn that their actions come with consequences and they have to adhere to rules.
Discipline in a calm, loving way.
Teens have a special way of getting under your skin. When this happens, take time out to calm down before disciplining. It can be as simple as counting to ten or going for a stroll. Giving yourself a break is crucial in order to avoid being the kind of dad who hurls insults or even worse, lifts his hand against his kid in anger.
Model appropriate behavior.
Your teen might resent and resist being told what to do but they are always watching and taking cues from your own behavior. If you’re disrespectful and dishonest, your teen is likely to be too, so model the kind of behavior you’d like your teen to emulate.
Nobody said being a father was easy, especially if you’re dealing with a troubled teen. However, employing a parenting style with the right balance of love and discipline will help your teen grow into a responsible, productive member of society.
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