Establish curfews. Don’t romanticize adolescence based on your own past. There was much less temptation then, and many more institutions in society that reinforced parents, not undermined them. There are more pulls now toward very high-risk behavior.
Dads should be involved. Fathers can be very important in all of this, said Horn, who is president of the National Fatherhood Initiative (www.fatherhood.org.) Throughout history and in different cultures, it has been the father or the community of fathers who help the transition from childhood to independence — not only for sons, but for daughters, too.
“Fathers tend to reassert themselves in the teen years, especially in monitoring,” he said. “One reason is that they’re bigger, more threatening. They can say to boys, ‘Stop it.’”
When it comes to interacting, “I think the most important thing is to keep open lines of communication,” said Chandran, “so that a child can feel in a situation, whatever it is, they can discuss that with their family. Teens may continue some of their ill-advised behavior, but as long as lines of communication open in a loving, trusting family, most of them will get through it quite well.”
In puberty, our biological roots tell us it’s time to get going, but “there’s a long latency period to independence,” said Horn.
Puberty itself doesn’t last that long — about two years. But there’s plenty that comes after.
“I have kids tell me all the time, with tears in their eyes, ‘I don’t want to be this way,’” said Vernon. Whether in private therapy or through school programs, “parents should advocate for strong prevention programs and to help kids learn what they’re going through.
“I can’t tell you what a sigh of relief these kids breathe when I say, ‘This is normal.’”
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