Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
How to Tolerate the Costs of Saying No to Teens

One of the primary differences between parenting now and parenting when we were growing up is our current fixation on the “relationship.”

The measuring tool we use for this is what I refer to as “closeness points.” In some families it manifests itself in just how much free time the parents are willing to sacrifice for their children’s activities. In others, it is about how often your teenager texts or calls you per day. Independence used to be the goal of parenting, but now in many ways we foster dependence.

I would assert, perhaps unpopularly, that more important than the present relationship you have with your teenager is the future relationships your teenager will have with you, their employer, partner, children, peers, and even humanity. Often, building responsibility, independence, and integrity in your teen will require times when they feel frustrated, upset, and even angry with you.


Tips to Help Teens Avoid Social Media Envy

Many teenagers are currently facing a particular version of peer pressure that is inspired by social media. As parents, we are aware of the potential for bullying, as well as photos that may at the least anger parents, and in some extreme cases result in the destruction of a reputation, or, unimaginably worse, tragedy.

But there are subtler forms of social pressure that many teens regularly feel. Parents need to know what those pressures are and how we can talk to our teenagers about them.

Here are my top four tips for how to help your teen avoid social media envy:


Creating Adaptable Adults Means Allowing Disruptions for Teens

In our swiftly moving and shifting world, adaptability is a skill our children will need in order to find gratification and success. As the job market becomes increasingly competitive and the speed of life feels as if it is aligning with the speed of light, most of us need to work longer hours, juggle multiple responsibilities, and master new technologies. How can we help our children learn to adapt to the continuous changes they will encounter as well as weather the disappointments and unpredictability that modern life inevitably delivers?

Here are some ways to help your teenager attain the survival skills they will need:


The Art of Not Reacting to Your Teen’s Reactions

So, you just told your child they can’t do something. Maybe you said no to a concert, a movie date with a young driver, or a gathering with no adult supervision. What happens next? Does your child storm out of the room fuming under their breath? Sulk for an entire evening? Slam his door on the way into his room?

All of these possibilities are disruptive and unsettling to a parent. However, they are totally normal reactions when teenagers don’t get their way. One of the mistakes parents make is to call their teenager on how they “react” to being told no. Teenagers, like all of us, do not like to be denied something they want. Most are not mature or self-aware enough to thank their parent for making the tough decisions.

If you have a teenager that defies you, then that is something to be very concerned about. But, if you simply have a teenager who feels angry at you, and as a result may say a throw-away comment, or spend an evening showing just how much they disapprove of your decision, then you have a teen who is acting well within the parameters of normal behavior. 


How to Get Your Teens to Talk

We all want our teenagers to open up and talk to us, but it is often easier in concept than in execution. After spending my career working with teenagers, raising my own, and in my current role as the Dean of Students at a top independent school, I have a couple of insights that might help.


Back to the top