I love Sue Blaney and her great advice and tips for parents today as well as her website. Let’s not forget her educational books! Weekly she continues to educate us on issues that face today’s generation of parenting.
Here is her Tip from last week:
My tip this week is Ask Yourself: “What do I need to Teach, Say or Learn?”
Have you ever wondered how to handle a situation with your teen? That may be a dumb question…it’s a rare parent who has all the answers and frankly, I’d worry about you if you did have all the answers. You undoubtedly face many situations where the answer isn’t clear: how do you know if you should say “yes” or “no” to your young teen’s request to go to the mall with friends? Or out in a car with a teen driver? Or to the party she’s been invited to in a different town with people you don’t know?
Here is a question to ask yourself that can help you identify the best course of action in a particular situation. Ask “What do I need to teach, say or learn?”
Let’s use our three examples from above:
1.) You are trying to decide if your young teen will receive your permission to go to the mall with friends. Ask yourself: “What do I need to teach?
Have you taught her what to do in an emergency? How to find help at the mall? What to do if somebody does or says something that makes her feel uncomfortable or unsafe? Review with her the skills she may need; be sure you have updated them and they are age appropriate for situations that change as she grows.
2.) Are you going to allow your son to go out in a car with a teen driver? Here you might ask yourself: “What do I need to say?
Go ahead… Even if you’ve stated your rules before, you can say them again…you want your voice in his head. Under what circumstances is he allowed in cars with friends? If this hasn’t been stated, this is an important topic to discuss. State the consequences if he breaks this rule….as an aside, this is a rule that is too often broken and sometimes with devastating consequences, so be clear on your rules about riding in cars.
3.) Will you allow her to go to a party with people you don’t know? In this case you might ask yourself: What do I need to learn?
You need to be in information-gathering mode to offer the right answer in this situation. Do you have all the facts? Where will the party be? Will there be supervision? How many people are expected to attend? How late will it go? How is she getting home? If your teen doesn’t have answers that satisfy you don’t be shy to make some calls yourself…which may be a smarter way to go anyway. Identify the information you need to ensure her safety and don’t let her go until you’ve learned what you need to know.
“What do I need to teach, say or learn?” can guide you through many situations. I hope you’ll use this tool often.
By the way, this is one of the helpful questions on my Parents’ Action Tool which is available as a free download here:
Thanks for subscribing to my Two-Minute Tips for Parenting Teens……. ‘Til next week…I’m Sue Blaney