12/28/2012 10:39 am ET | Updated Feb 27, 2013

Five New Year's Resolutions That Parents of Teens Need to Make


It's that time of year again when parents are resolving to lose weight, join a gym and attend classes regularly, breathe deeply frequently and stop screaming and on and on the list goes. In most of these cases these same issues show up on next year's list, right? This is why diet books, exercise books and books on learning to be calm sell so well. I have a different set of ideas for you this year, though, especially if you are a parent of a teenager. If you are not then perhaps you can adapt these ideas to the ages of the children in your household.

So, please hear me out before saying that you have tried all of these ideas and that they don't work. I will explain how to present these ideas to your teens so that they are more likely to be effective. My goal is for there to be less friction in your households and more of a sense of a smoothly operating community. We have got to teach our teenagers the importance of community because in all areas of their lives and at all ages they will do better if they know how to be a team player. Agree? I knew you would. Now that we are all on the same page let's move to my suggested New Year resolutions.

1. This year resolve to give your teens responsibility around the house. I don't suggest nagging. I suggest instead that you tell the teens how important it is to you to have their help and support. Hey, even teens want to feel necessary. They won't tell you this but I will and I am.

2. If you have more than one teenager in the house resolve to give them each separate and individual time with you. Even though they may resist at first there will be tremendous benefits. Teens who feel that things are fair are less likely to bicker and fight and do all of those things that fall under the heading of sibling rivalry. And, who I ask you, wants to walk into a house with teens screaming at each other?

3. This year, focus on making sure that there is balance in your teens' lives. I know that you want them to have academic, athletic and social success but please keep in mind that you are not raising little robots. I have seen teens getting more anxious as the years pass and I am quite sure that this is related to academic, athletic and social pressure. Okay so maybe you think that the teen is experiencing self-imposed pressure but I highly doubt it. Take a very thorough look at the subtle and not so subtle messages that you are sending your teens.

4. There is no virtue in being a martyr. This year find the time to take care of yourselves and your kids. Your teens are watching you carefully. If they look at you and see that you are not taking care of yourself they will get the idea that adulthood is nothing to look forward to. Now, you don't want this, do you?


5. Resolve to listen to your teens when they talk. I always say that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Teens' biggest complaint is that their parents talk over them, don't let them finish talking, offer premature solutions and make having a conversation difficult. You will see that when you do more listening they in turn will do more talking and they will spill the beans. You will learn a lot more about what is going on in their teen lives than other parents. It's not a competition but what parent doesn't want to be in the know?

Hey, I wish you good luck with all of these resolutions. Print out this article and refer to it throughout the year. Next year we can re-visit and see how you fared. It's worth a try, right?

Good luck and happy new year from my heart to yours.