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Be Your Teen's Parent, Not Their Friend

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Girl studying with her mother on a laptop at home
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It is easy to get stuck when raising your teen in a number of pitfalls, but I find the 'being a friend' pitfall the hardest to avoid. I'm sure you can relate. There are times when parents just want to be liked by their teens. We're people and we love our children, so we want to be loved back. It would make things so much easier - less stress, right? But nowhere in the definition of 'parent' is the word 'friend' or for that matter, the word 'easy'. And in reality, being a friend to your teen just makes life harder for you both.

As a parent, you have a responsibility to perform your parental role for your teen. It is your responsibility to help them learn life skills, keep them safe and secure and to guide them into the most successful adulthood they are capable of having. Children and teens are not able to raise themselves on their own, they need responsible adults to assist them. So when a parent says that they want to be their teen's friend - while they may think they are giving their teen something - what they are saying is that they don't want the responsibility of parenting their teen. They are in fact taking away the love, security and dependability a parent gives to their teenagers by abdicating from the job.

When it comes to discipline, being a friend to your teen can mean that you allow your teen to not be held accountable for their actions. You allow them to get away with doing things that may harm them, like underage drinking, or you don't give them enough age-appropriate responsibilities so that they are less independent than their peers.

Here are three frequent life situations and how to respond to your teen as a responsible parent with their needs in mind, rather than a friend:

Life Situation #1: Your teen wants to go to a party where there is no supervision and drugs and alcohol are available. As a responsible parent, you will need to say no and not allow your teen to attend the party. You will also need to set your expectations and consequences should your teen ever attend this type of party without your permission. Why? Because a party of this nature is illegal and if busted, your teen can face charges. But beyond that, your teen could be hurt in any number of situations that can come out of a large group of drunk and drugged up adolescents.

Life Situation #2: Your teen continually asks for money to purchase things that are not needs, although they may be things you both agree they can have, without giving a second though about where the money is coming from or how much they are spending. As a responsible parent, you will need to set a limit on how much your teen spends. Why? Because unless you have the proverbial money tree in the backyard, there is a limit to how much money your family has at its disposal. Your teen needs to learn that money is earned, therefore things like going to the movies, video games, iTunes purchases, etc. are received by working for them.

Life Situation #3: Your teen doesn't do or rushes through their homework and school work, thereby receiving only mediocre grades. As a responsible parent, you will need to talk with your teen about their future, goals and place some expectations on their schoolwork. Why? Teens don't take in the big picture. They are unable to see the future like you, someone who as been there. Therefore, by helping them focus, and perhaps making immediate consequences, you will help your teen focus on what they need to do to be achieving in school.

As you can see by these examples, being a parent is much more than being a friend and it is much more rewarding as well.

Quick Links: All Discipline and Teens Resources | Quiz: Is your teen a slacker?

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