Setting and enforcing clear, fair and firm boundaries — and following through with consequences — are a critical part of being a good parent. One recent survey of teenagers found that only 48 percent said that their family has clear boundaries. Clear boundaries includes having rules and consequences and most importantly, following through on these boundaries.
A few everyday ideas:
■ Think ahead — Set curfews before your teen is begging to go out. Talk together about your expectations and make certain that everyone understands what’s expected. In addition, agree on the consequences if curfew is broken.
■ Confirm the plans — Before your teen heads out the door, find out where she is going, who will be with her, how she’ll be getting there and back and when she will be home.
■ Adjust — At times, review and negotiate curfew times. It may be appropriate from time to time to change a curfew (during the summer) or to allow her to participate in a positive activity at school or in the community.
■ Enforce — Be consistent when enforcing consequences, but when boundaries are broken, don’t discuss her failure. Instead, use these situations to teach about responsibility.
■ Affirm — Tell her how much you appreciate it when she tells you where she’ll be and when she will arrive home. Plus, this positive feedback will make it more likely that she will follow through next time.
■ Be realistic — There is no “magic” curfew time for all teens. Match curfews to the needs of your family, your teen and your community. Some children need more sleep than others. Some communities are safer than others. Negotiate curfews that work for you, your child and your family, and adhere to local laws.
Having your child become a teenager doesn’t mean all the rules go out the window. The expectations need to be clearly stated and routinely enforced if you expect to maintain the rules.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of Parenting Matters Foundation. The foundation publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at email@example.com or at 681-2250.