Taking Stock Mid-Year

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This is a good time of year to take stock of how things are going in your teen's life. We are approaching a half-way-point in the school year; we are through the holidays and looking toward the latter half of the year. Now is the time to prepare for those possibly upcoming problems.

Is this the year your son graduates? Will your daughter attend prom in a few months? Are your kids planning a trip this summer or starting college in the fall, or is there a job or wedding on the horizon? Answer these questions as a way of preparing yourself for what lies ahead. This is the time to discuss all the possible events associated with your teen's future plans. The time to make sure they even have any plans is right now.

With every major event in a person's life come assorted emotions and reactions. Your teen may already be concerned and experiencing stress about an event that is months away. The zit they have today may bring on worries about their face being cleared up for the prom. The test they just failed might be the one that keeps them from college, at least in their minds. Are they worried about their first day on a new job for which they have not yet been hired? Maybe it is the wedding dance and they cannot dance at all.

Sure, to us it seems silly to worry today about things we cannot control or events far in our future. To a teen, it may be a constant source of stress. They need reassurance and the self-confidence to go through the milestones along the path to adulthood.

We add to our teen's stress when we talk about them getting into what we consider the best college for them, suggesting a mate or picking what their future career should be. We must be tolerant of their choices as long as they are not harmful. There is a time for advice and another for just support. Parents must learn to know the difference.

One of the hardest things for a parent to do is to sit back and watch kids make poor choices. Help your children by reserving opinions about those things that are too distant, too unlikely to become reality, and not worthy of an adult reaction. Save your energy to fight those battles necessary to their future well-being and safety. If it is not a life and death matter, forget it.

When a 13-year-old teen says he thinks he will skip college and bum around the country, don't lose your mind. When your daughter confesses that medicine is just one possible career choice, but she's decided to become a lion tamer, smile sweetly and take a deep breath. But if your teen is thinking about making a dangerous life choice, you must convince them to think about it. If they start for the door, every parent has the right and responsibility to stop them to save their child.

So what is the answer to this dilemma'? The answer is, "Don't sweat the small stuff" Encourage and support your teen's efforts and plans, but do not get more involved than necessary. Only interfere and give advice in really important matters. And, lastly, when you take stock of their lives and what must be done, make sure it is for their benefit and not yours.

Credits: Jo Ann Wentzel

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