BY JANET FORBES, BUSINESS & COMMUNITY LAISON, CASSADAGA JOB CORPS ACADEMY
Getting more involved now in your early teen’s life will help you stay connected tomorrow. Not only that, it will help your teen make better decisions, even about things such as not smoking or drinking and other healthy lifestyle choices.
We know it is not always easy. We know there is not always time. Here is some help:
Ten tactics other parents have used to stay involved in their teen’s life.
Schedule time for you and your teen. Plan for it, like you might a business meeting. Write an appointment with your teen on your calendar. Most importantly: hold yourself to it. Even scheduling a short time – say, ten minutes, can show your teen he or she is important.
Catch your teen doing something right. We often focus on the bad things our teens do. “Catching” your teen doing something right, then offering a compliment, can encourage good behavior and keep the communication lines open. This can be as easy as saying “Hey, your room looks great”.
Post a family calendar. A good way to keep your family connected is to write everything down – soccer practice, hair appointments, work schedule, family outings. In this way, you can better monitor your teen’s plans as he or she gets older and more independent. In the meantime, your teen will feel more connected to you simply by knowing where you are.
Create rules, then enforce them. Rules are the boundaries that every teen needs. Say “yes” when you can, but make “no” stick. Only the rules you enforce will matter. Don’t set rules you do not intend to enforce. That will only create confusion.
Regularly share a meal with your teen. Not everybody has the luxury of eating a regular meal with his or her teen. If you do, take advantage of it. Teens who report eating meals with their family are less likely to smoke or use drugs or engage in other risky behaviors. Even if you cannot always eat with your teen, maybe you can find a few days a week when you can. It will encourage each of you to catch up with the other. One other suggestion – forget the television. It inhibits conversation.
Share your day. Every parent has heard it – “How was your day?” the parent asks the teen. “Fine”, the teen responds. Then silence. One way to help your teen open up is to share a brief story about your day first, especially if you saw something funny.
Write your teen a thank-you note. Some teens say one of the reasons they know their parents care is because they get thank-you notes left at the dinner table, stuck in a book, or slipped under a pillow. You don’t need to thank your teen for anything really big. It can be for setting the table, helping a friend, or saying something positive.
Ask your teen for advice. Sure, you may not consult your teen about approaching your boss or refinancing your home. But there are lots of smaller issues where your teen will appreciate being asked for input. What to wear to a school event or where to position the television are two examples. It shows you value their opinion, especially if you occasionally act on their advice.
Give your teen family responsibilities. Assign your teen a chore that helps the whole family,
like organizing your home recycling effort or caring for the dog. By giving your teen responsibilities you are implicitly saying you trust his or her competence and are allowing them to feel more “adult” – the same benefit that risky behaviors such as smoking or drinking falsely offer teens.
The early teen years pass quickly with rapid growth and development and build the foundation for young adulthood. The more engaged you are with your teen during these crucial years, the more connected you will be to help your teen navigate through the later teen years and into young adulthood with confidence and strengths.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Forbes is the Business and Community Liaison at Cassadaga Job Corps Academy. She has an AAS in Nursing from Jamestown Community College and a BS in Human Services and Community with a concentration in women and family issues from SUNY Empire State College. She lives in Jamestown and is the mother of an adult son and grandmother of three.
For more information about CJCA, contact Janet Forbes at (716) 595-4237, email Forbes.Janet@jobcorps.org. or visit cassadaga.jobcorps.gov