Prep for Parenting Your Modern Family

Posted on June 16th, 2016, 0 Comments

When College Kids Move Home for the Summer

If you’re getting pushback from your college kid about your house rules for the summer and find yourself wondering if you’re being too critical or asking too much, take a look at the contract the Tiger Mother made her daughters sign before moving in for the summer (click here).

Consider leaving a copy out in plain sight. It just might help reset the conversation in your home.

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Prep for Parenting Your Modern Family

Posted on March 14th, 2016, 0 Comments

Modern Family: Season 7, Episode 15, I Don’t Know How She Does It

Plotline: Who is Minding Luke?

Tonight Claire and Phil work to hold down their parental responsibilities and their jobs. Phil notes that he’s been doing this for a long time: I’ve been juggling family and work for 22 years – just juggling for 30. And he wonders how Claire has managed to master it all so quickly.

In spite of her new position as boss of her dad’s company, Claire still manages to pack the kids’ lunches, pick up their clothes from the laundry, and buy presents for their friends. She even whips-up homemade ice cream for the family and cupcakes for a bake sale. By the end we see that she’s actually focusing on her new job at work while a guy from marketing is handling things at home.
Claire (lamenting): I’m so damn busy trying to be the perfect mom and the perfect boss, but I’m outsourcing the one job that means the most to me, and I really miss it.
I miss being a mom.

Meanwhile, Luke continues to go in the wrong direction. A few months back he got caught drinking with his buddies. Weeks later he took the family car without permission or a driver’s license. And tonight he takes a couple more wrong turns: skipping school and downloading a picture of a naked girl.

Claire and Phil are focused on doing things for their kids – tasks that, frankly, the kids should mostly be doing for themselves by now. And with both parents busy doing things that aren’t really their responsibility any more, they miss something important that is. They’re not paying enough attention to what Luke is up to.

Claire and Phil need to be doing more parental monitoring of Luke’s activities and behavior. This isn’t about prying and spying. Instead, it’s about 1) the rules parents have for their teen’s behavior, 2) the actions they take to keep track of their teen, and 3) and the way they respond when their teen breaks the agreed upon rules.

You are monitoring your teen when you…

Make and discuss your rules with your teen.
– Keep your rules simple. For example: Be safe. Be in contact. Be respectful. (Click here for more about these three simple rules.)
– Talk with your teen about your rules and winning their cooperation for following the rules by talking about what’s in it for them.

Keep track of your teen.
– Talk with your teen about their plans with their friends – where they’re going and what they’re going to do. If they’re going to a friend’s house, ask if a parent will be present.
– Set expectations that your teen is to keep you informed, calling you if their plans change or if they’re going to be late.
– Make sure your teen knows how to reach you at all times.
– Pay attention to how your teen spends money.
– Keep track of how your teen spends time online, and discuss Internet safety. (You can read more about that here.)
– Get to know your teen’s friends – especially their boyfriend or girlfriend. And get to know the parents of your teen’s friends.
– Pay attention to your teen’s behavior and mood at home; if you see anything that concerns you, discuss it.
– Talk with your teen’s teachers, aunts, uncles, and other adults who know your teen. Ask them to share what they’ve observed about your teen’s mood, their behavior, and their friends.

Respond when your teen breaks the rules.
– Give consequences that fit the infraction and make sense to your teen.
– Give your teen the support they need to learn from their mistakes.
– Define a way for your teen to re-earn your trust.
– Work to mend any frayed connections with your teen. You can still do fun things together while keeping the consequences in place.
(Click here for more about how to give consequences that work.)

Connecting Lines:
Your connectedness to your teen matters! In fact, a growing body of research indicates that all parental efforts to monitor teen behavior are much more effective and efficient when parents are connected to their teens.

Plus as our kids get older, they will be making more and more decisions when we’re not around to monitor them. This means that our power is increasingly in our influence. And if we let monitoring become the main focus of our relationships with our teens, we won’t have the influence we hope to have.

So try to spend as much time on your connection with your teen as you do on making and enforcing rules. The closeness and fun you share with your teen helps recharge your parenting batteries. And this in itself will help promote connection between the two of you.

Below are some ways to show your teen that they’re valued and cared about. Consider adding some of these to your routine.
– Make time to stop by your teen’s room just to chat and listen. Make it a habit to knock before going into their room.
– Note what they’re doing well and pay them a genuine compliment at least once a day.
– Text them to offer encouragement before tests and games or just out of the blue to let them know you’re thinking about them.
– Plan a menu and cook a favorite meal together.
– Notice when they enter the house or the room and greet them.
– Ask for their help on a project.
– Go to a movie together, and do dessert afterwards to talk about it.
– Do a physical activity together such as hiking, biking, or skating. Invite one of their friends and the friend’s parent to join you.
– Read the same book and then offer to take them to lunch to talk about it.
– Choose a weekly show as “your show” to watch together.
– Strive to have 5 positive interactions with your teen for every 1 negative interaction.

Resources: Monitoring Your Teen’s Activities: What Parents and Families Should Know from the CDC’s Division of Adolescent and School Health, “Consequences of Parenting on Adolescent Outcomes” in online journal Societies, Staying Connected to Your Teenager by Mike Riera

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