The 6 Major Roles Parents Play in the Lives of Teens

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As children grow into teenagers, it leaves many parents wondering, “What’s my role as a parent now?” After all, by the time kids reach the teen years, they shouldn’t need reminders not to put a fork into the electric outlet and they no longer need any help brushing their teeth.  

Increased independence doesn’t mean your parenting duties are over, however. In fact, your teen likely needs you more than ever (even though your teen isn’t likely to admit it).

Parents of teens continue to play an integral part of their child’s life.

There are many roles parents of a teen need to play to ensure a child grows up with the skills and knowledge necessary to become a responsible adult. Here are the six major roles parents of teens should play:

1. Teacher – Teens still have a lot of learning to do. Whether you’re teaching basic budgeting skills or you’re helping your teen learn how to resolve conflict, there will be plenty of teachable moments throughout adolescence. Often, it’s about finding the right opportunities and presenting lessons in a way that will keep your teen interested in learning.

2. Coach – Teens need coaching about how to solve problems and make healthy decisions. Like any good coach, help your teen practice strategies that will improve performance – like eating healthy, getting plenty of sleep, and turning off the TV to study. The coaching role means offering advice and rehearsing strategies to help a teen deal with anything from a friend-related issue to asking a teacher for help.

3. Cheerleader – The teen years can be filled with self-doubt and uncertainty so the role of a cheerleader is very important. Offer words of encouragement, praise positive behavior, and provide reassurance when mistakes are made. Cheerleading isn’t about showering your teen with false accolades or attempting to convince him that he’s perfect.

Instead, it’s about providing positive reinforcement that will help your teen overcome self-doubt.

4. Guide - Teens are still learning how to navigate the world and they’re looking for parents as a guide to figure it out. Your teen watches your daily habits - like whether you exercise or how much time you spend online. Your teen also notices how you deal with stress, interact with people, and solve problems. Your role as a guide means being a good role model and showing your teen how to successfully navigate the ups and downs of life.

5. Advocate – Adolescence is a time where teens learn how to speak up for themselves and negotiate to get what they want. However, many of them still benefit from parental assistance. Advocating for your teen may mean attending a school meeting when you think your child’s needs aren’t being met or it may mean really pressing a doctor for a referral to a specialist when you don’t think your child is receiving appropriate treatment. All along the way, it’s important to teach your teen assertiveness skills so that he can learn to advocate for himself when he’s an adult.

6. Disciplinarian – Disciplinarian is an essential role in parenting teens. Adolescents need discipline to prevent them from behaving in an unsafe manner and they require consequences when they don’t make healthy choices. As a disciplinarian, the focus shouldn’t be on punishing or shaming teens, but instead should be on helping them to discover how to make the healthiest choices in the future.

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