As teenagers become older, their actions can carry greater consequences, a situation many parents would be afraid of. They may find themselves grappling with dangerous things like being in the wrong company, looking for a career in something that may not be suitable for them, or something as vicious as sex without protection. During the transition of your teenager to adulthood, you need to discuss six important things with them. Below, we talk about these six essential conversations that will help your teen stay out of the harm’s way.
Don’t be Shy of the Talk on Sexual Matters
You need to get his out of the way, no matter how much you may be uncomfortable discussing sex matters with your teen. You may also have difficulty knowing the best way to broach the topic. It’s advisable to have a recurring conversation on this subject rather than have just a one-time discussion. It is also suggested that you should inform them at an earlier age that they must learn to respect members of the opposite sex and delay sex until they are older. Furthermore, teenagers need to be explained, from the biological perspective, the process of reproduction and pregnancy that accompanies sex. They also need to be taught the ideal practices of engaging in sex safely as they mature. That would involve telling them about contraceptive methods that inhibit pregnancy and control the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Moreover, they need to be cautioned against unhealthy relationships and abusive partners.
Intoxication Matters Need to be Addressed Too
Drugs and alcohol are something very serious too and many parents have a hard time understanding how to discuss their use with their teens. Overindulgence in drugs and alcohol can usually be brought about by peer influence and studies reveal that usage of drugs and alcohol is at the top of the list of things teens deceive their parents about. It is crucial that parents should communicate to their teens the dangers of drugs and alcohol both with immediate consequences, such as getting into accidents while driving drunk, and those with far-reaching consequences, such as negative effects in the form of an over-dependent personality and compromised mental growth.
A recommended way to go about this can be to share your own experiences with drugs and alcohol with them. This would hopefully make them open up as well about any experiences they have had or of any of their acquaintances and friends. If they still desist from letting out this information, they might be in a threatened position because of unconsciously assimilating substance use that could lead them into making wrong decisions. Make sure that your teen is comfortable letting you know if they got drunk or took drugs so that you could come over to get them back home safely.
Discussion on the Positive Aspects of Personality and Life Goals
As the teen matures, it is conducive if the parents mention to them the positive sides of their personality and talk to them about their goals in life. They may be clueless about their strengths and they may have no idea about what they can possibly want to be or do for the rest of their lives. It is here that you come in and help them explore the different sides of their personality and find what they can do well. Appreciate them for their achievements and prod them into thinking about what career paths or college programs will align with their strengths. These discussions must be had throughout their school years as they will help them find themselves and explore more in order to see what they are good at.
The Talk on Good Friends
It is difficult to find people who can be good friends with your teen immediately. They may have somebody to spend time with but that does not mean these people can be reliable friends. So, it may be necessary to caution them about how people they consider friends now may no longer want to be friends with them. You must also inform them about how vital it is for their future happiness and wellbeing, both professional and emotional, to be with the right sort of people in this growing age. It is the best policy to keep the least amount of mingling with those who care for nothing else except partying as their company can very well come in the way of your teen’s goals. A good idea would be to share with them stories of your experience as a teenager and what it took, then, to find friends who shared similar interests and perspectives on life.
The Emotional and Physical Baggage from Adolescence
Your teens are experiencing the major emotional and physical changes that come with the period of adolescence they are transitioning through. Many of them may not feel comfortable communicating the feelings that this period brings with things like alterations to their body such as growing hairs in unexpected places and discovering new body odours. It is best to comfort them through this transitional stage by telling them that they aren’t facing anything extraordinary. Also, they need to be reminded that hormonal changes will give them shifting moods and emotions which will end over time. Another way to ensure that they are doing well is by checking on them often to inquire about various situations they may find themselves in, such as developing feelings for someone, heartbreak, or just general anxiety, and helping them get out of them.
The Social Media Factor
30 years ago, parents didn’t have to care about having conversations on social media. However, now it must be considered one of the central topics that you and your teen must converse about. Social media is deceptive – it gives off the impression that it is lesser of a danger than sex or drugs when it isn’t. All parents need to learn about social media effects on teens. Think of the sort of things that social media can allow a teen to do or be involved with such as transferring private information about themselves to people they don’t know, becoming a victim of digital bullying, or getting unsolicited unsuitable pictures from others. The internet, like the physical world, has lots of good things and bad things all at once in it. Being digital natives, spending a lot of their time online, teens may find a lot that can be unsettling for them. Therefore, as parents it is your responsibility to encourage them to speak up about unpleasant encounters. Research indicates that teenager’s resort to finding protection from cyberbullying by confiding in their parents.
Keep the Conversations Going
Talks on these topics can’t be confined to one or two conversations only as they need to take the centre stage throughout your teen’s developing years. After all, these subjects aren’t something that can be covered in a single talk. Therefore, you must keep the talk going on in order to protect your teens from the dangers of adolescence and make them face the adult world in a better way.
Andy Earle is a researcher who studies parent-teen communication and adolescent risk behaviors. He is the co-founder of talkingtoteens.com, ghostwriter at WriteItGreat.com, and host of the Talking to Teens podcast, a free weekly talk show for parents of teenagers.