If you have a teenage son or daughter, then you know that the teenage years can be hard to navigate. You love your teen, and you want to make sure they’re prepared for life. Part of your job as their parent is to let go and help them achieve independence, but you also must pass on some wisdom. Here are five conversations you should have with your teen.
This is the classic one, but it remains every bit as important. Your teen might have teachers or mentors telling them to say no to drugs, but your influence is still the most important. Encourage them to look up hard questions like, “how long does cocaine stay in your system” and find the disturbing answers to what life on drugs is like. There’s a lot of fiction in the world of drugs, and you must help your teen separate the idealized lie from the harsh reality.
The older your teen gets, the more their dating life is their own decision. While it might scare you, an eighteen-year-old is allowed, by law, to date and even marry whoever he or she would like, so focus less on forbidding and more on teaching the right attitudes. Teach your sons to respect women, and teach your daughters to respect themselves. If you pass on a healthy perspective on dating, your teen will listen.
Death isn’t something anyone wants to talk about, but it’s a conversation everyone should have. You and your teen may both be in the best of health, but you should have a short talk about death anyway. Encourage your teen to seek therapy in the event of your death, and learn each other’s preferences for burial. They might want cremation services in New Jersey, and you might want a casket. Knowing helps ease the funeral planning in the event of a tragedy.
Every parent wants their child to go to college, but make sure your hope isn’t interpreted as a command. Talk to your teen about their possible future careers, what their strengths are, and whether or not they should go to college. Make it clear that, in the end, that decision is up to your teen, and you’ll love and respect them no matter what career they choose. The college pressure can be intense for a lot of students, and make sure they know that a certification, an associate’s degree, or a long break while they make a decision are all in the cards.
Last but not least, you should have regular encouraging conversations with your teen. You might love your teen with all your heart, but sometimes, it’s hard to pass that love on. If you’re not a verbal or affectionate person, make an effort to encourage your teen as they get older. High school can be a challenging time, and any positive feedback or words of love they receive from you will mean a lot. You might be tempted to nag at your teen, but try to keep the majority of your interactions positive.