Millennium Parenting

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Well, most of us got through the first few weeks of the New Millennium without incident. Some of us have already abandoned our New Year's resolutions and everything is back to the way it was. That probably also means the problems and bad behaviors with your teen may be back, too.

Your problem with your teen just won't go away by itself. To change behavior takes a concerted effort on the part of the parent and child. But most of all, it takes a desire to change. Sometimes, our bad habits are so comfortable for us that we hate to give them up. Remember your own attempts this past month at dieting or quitting smoking. Our intentions were good, but putting those practices into effect was tough. Some of us failed.

I've been told that most new efforts will become a habit in 21 days if you practice it consistently and religiously. Repeatedly doing what you want to achieve will guarantee its mastery at the end of this time. (Or so I'm told.) So why do so many of us fail to make those desired life changes? First, it is tough work and, second, I do not believe we really want to change at times. Example: I love food even though I hate the overweight condition it produces when I overeat.

Let's transfer this idea to our teens a moment. They love to do those things you want them to stop. Telling them to stop is not enough. We need to change their thinking about that behavior. If you have a teen that is feeling great when he does drugs or alcohol, telling him it is wrong is not going to be effective. We have to show him the results of drugs and alcohol. He may need to see those folks dying from problems stemming from alcohol abuse. We may need to show him an addict in all his horror. The child that drinks and drives may need to go to the cemetery and visit graves of deceased children. These sound drastic, but once the usual methods have failed we need to get tough.

Showing a teen what their future will be like if they make certain choices is more effective than telling them constantly that they should not engage in sex at this age. Having a teen's bad behavior disciplined regularly will give the same message more clearly than 20 sermons about the danger of staying out past curfew.

All those behaviors you need to change in your teens and yourself are more possible when it becomes a habit to try and change them. But the real key is to find that one thing important to your teen so that they wish to change those behaviors. If a teen realizes how this behavior can affect his life, he may be more willing to attempt to change it. That may be the best we can hope for at this point.

Credits: Jo Ann Wentzel

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