Helping Teenagers learn about Responsibility

TeenagersWe all make mistakes. How we deal with them is the important part.

When teenagers do silly things such as taking over someone else’s empty house for a heavy drinking, drugs, vandalising party, it seems like the perfect opportunity to help them understand about accountability and responsibility.

A strict autocratic parent may react by taking privileges away and grounding Teen for a week or more. This tends to make Teen angry at Parents and reinforce the ‘Young people versus parents who don’t understand’ syndrome but does not teach them much in terms of self discipline. In fact they can’t wait for the next opportunity to attend such a party and next time they will make sure they are not caught.

A permissive parent may ask Teen to “Please don’t do it again because it was a bad thing that you did” and hope that Teen will grow out of it eventually but doesn’t dare enforce any discipline for fear of being disliked by Teen.

An authoritative parent will listen, ask questions, discuss acceptable behaviour, empathy, respect of self and others, peer pressure and the use of social media. They would encourage Teen to reflect on consequences and find acceptable solutions to fix the situation and make amend. Teen will be made accountable and will learn about social responsibility, good judgement and that mistakes are opportunities to learn.

Teens will be Teens…it is in their DNA to push boundaries and challenge rules (brain studies demonstrate that). It is our job as parents to keep them, their friends and others safe, to make them aware of the power of group dynamics and to instill in them the moral compass that we hope will keep them safe through the tumultuous years of teenagehood.

When a group of 300 teenagers decided to gather and trash his house in NY state for a party, former NFL player Brian Holloway reacted in an appropriately authoritative way. He took action and chose to involve the Teens and their families into the ‘I am sorry for what I did, I will come and help you repair the damage’¬†process. Much of the event had been posted and tweeted on social medias and authorities are working with him to identify the culprits. What he didn’t plan on, was the shocking lack of responsibility that some parents of these Teens demonstrated.

Journalist Kelly Lynch wrote “An Open Letter To The Parents Of The Stephentown 300

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