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  • What You Don't Know Can Hurt You

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    Adolescence can be a trying time for both teenagers and their parents. Even though it's a stage all adults have been through themselves, dealing with it as a parent is not easy.

    The rites of adolescence, which include sexual development, dating, experimentation of all kinds, first love and lots of other "firsts," scare adults because we see the potential for huge mistakes. Unfortunately, in response, many adults believe that what they don't know can't hurt them when it comes to activities such as teenage parties.

    This couldn't be further from the truth. What you don't know can hurt you and your children.

    Parties that Cause Problems

    The causes of problem parties are lack of adult supervision, "open" invitations and alcohol or drug use.

    If your teen has attended parties of this kind and you are unable to deal with it, seek professional help. If something illegal is occurring, you can call the police. If the problem is a disciplinary issue, you might benefit from expert counseling. 

    Sometimes just a little help can prevent short-term problems from becoming more serious. Professionals can teach you techniques and show you options you might not have considered.

    Experts give parents this advice:

    • Set a good example at home, starting early.
    • Try to build self-esteem in your children by encouraging expression of feelings and open communication, and by unconditional love.
    • Set firm but kind limits.
    • Be consistent with communication and discipline.
    • Encourage independent thinking.
    • Support and encourage involvement in outside activities and interests.
    • Make it your business to be aware of the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

    Problems will sometimes arise no matter what a parent does. But you can cope:

    • Even if you start after the fact, make rules-and the consequences of breaking them-clear.
    • Follow through on threats of disciplinary action.
    • Be firm but kind; this is terrible for your child, too, but you are working to keep him safe.
    • Inquire about and monitor behavior.
    • Seek professional help.
    • Don't cover for a child who breaks the law.

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