Adolescence too can arrive like a hurricane, bringing a “whirlwind” of emotions and putting added stress on a teenager’s relationships. To meet the challenge, parents need to examine the way they relate to their teenage hurricane. They need to be able to change their style of parenting to endure the new pressures facing their teenagers.
To strengthen the dam, parents must begin by evaluating the core values that define their role as parents. For example, some parents emphasize that their children should do well in school and work hard to achieve professionally. Others want their children to be honest and maintain higher ethical standards of behavior whatever their careers. Some parents believe that their children’s most important goal is to be independent and not rely on others for assistance, while others are more concerned that their children maintain their religious identity and avoid the temptations of the outside world.
Although these values are all important in raising children, with a teenager at risk they require moderation. Teens at risk may not be able to achieve intellectually, maintain higher ethical standards, or even live a religious life without a new kind of support system from their parents. The goals that their parents have set for them may be unrealistic. If so, parents need to shift their emphasis toward developing a relationship with their teenager and away from having the teenager live up to their expectations. Instead of professional success or independence as a primary goal, the new center of their parenting must be the relationship.
If you are having trouble with your teenager, you can use the following diagram to try to identify the central tenets that define your parental values. After seeing what lies at the core of your parenting values, look at the next diagram, which shows the parenting values prescribed for teens at risk.
Parenting goals for at risk teenagers
The relationship is at the center because the relationship is the single most important (and often most difficult) factor that parents need to work on with their teenager. The relationship must be of primary concern until teenagers are able to make changes necessary to maintain their own stability and fulfillment.
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force and author of “At Risk – Never Beyond Reach” and “First Aid for Jewish Marriages.” To order a copy, visit www.JewishMarriageSupport.com. For more information about Shalom Task Force, please visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. You can e-mail questions to him at [email protected].