If raising young kids was a puzzle to you, then raising teens is the Rubik’s Cube of parenting: it’s practically impossible to solve unless you know the tricks. Here’s some “Great Advice” on how to deal with five of the biggest challenges that parents face today in raising teens:

Dad's Great Advice for Teens

Dad's Great Advice for Teens

1. Social Media

In ye olden days, the big problem was TV, but now, teens spend way too much time on social media, which causes them to unrealistically compare themselves not just to the celebrities of social media, but worse, to their own friends, and worse still, to random people they don’t even know. Teach your teens that they only see edited lives on social media. It’s the “greatest hits album” of somebody’s life, so it’s not smart or helpful to compare 100% of your own life, including the dull parts, to just the greatest hits of somebody else’s life.

2. Time Management

Teens procrastinate. I’m pretty sure it’s built into their DNA. Teach them to use to-do lists, checklists, and calendar reminders to better plan their time. On large, long-term projects, help them schedule out daily and weekly goals, breaking down the large task into smaller, more manageable tasks. If they need even more of a push, promise them a meaningful reward (AKA bribe) if they hit their weekly goals.

3. Academic stress

Whether they’re getting straight A’s or straight C’s, school puts a lot of pressure on teens. Obviously, first and foremost you need to help your teen put in their best effort with their schoolwork. But after that, your primary job is to do your best to RELIEVE most of the school pressure, not BECOME another source of pressure. That means rewarding the work they put in, not necessarily the results and grades they get back. Remind them (and yourself) that grades aren’t the only things that matter in life.

4. Sex

One day, your teen may be ready to… deep breath… have sex. Fight this “battle” in two stages. First, discuss how they can tell if they’re really emotionally ready to have sex, and the lifelong consequences of an unwanted pregnancy or Sexually Transmitted Infection. Second, support them. Because as you may remember from your own teen years, if they think they’re ready to have sex, they’re going to find a way to do it with or without your permission or support. And they certainly don’t need your permission, but you’ll be doing them a favor by giving them your support (and helping to ensure they do it safely).

5. Leaving you

The biggest challenge is more of a problem for you than for them: your teen will soon leave home. Enjoy the time you have left with them by trying to avoid the little fights about meaningless stuff, connecting with them about things they care about, and creating meaningful experiences to enjoy together. But also remember that they still need parenting and guidance, so… don’t sweat the small stuff, but don’t ignore the big stuff.

Marc Fienberg is the author of Dad’s Great Advice for Teens (https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735180408), and a life coach. For more information go to greatadvicegroup.com.

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