Sunday, February 05, 2006

Tips for Parenting Teens

I was just off reading Dan's latest post. I almost left him a comment with my favorite tips for supporting teens, but then I thought -- why waste a decent idea on a comment? I could make it a post and he can read it here.

First: rescue code. Our kids know that if they want to be rescued from a situtation they should call and say, "I don't want to come now. Can I stay? I really want to stay." The cool thing about this is that it works even when we are stupid, which is not seldom. Trusting our kids we are likely to say, "Sure...You can stay a while." The kids are instructed to reply, "Oh come on! Don't make me go. I want to stay." They are to repeat on this theme until we wake up and say, "Oh! Where are you? I will be right there." They can then hang up, tell their friends how horrible their parents are and wait for the ride home.

No one has ever used this, except as a bit of a joke or experiment. All the kids though have been pleased to have it.

Second: making your house the hang out spot. Kids are likely to try to convince you that you need expensive equipment. They will tell you that if they had a large-screen TV, state-of-the-art stereo, pool table, and kitchenette their friends would hang out there. Balderdash. Unless someone else is offering these things, kids can be bribed for much, much less. Generally all you need is a semi-private room (basement space is great), old furniture (it has to be okay to spill soda, scratch and maybe even break everything), and food. If you have the money add the entertainment equipment, but don't let them talk you into things they don't need. A boom box and small TV will be more than enough for most kids. My sons purchased used gaming consoles (Xbox, Gamecube, and Playstation) over the years. Even if you can afford it, I strongly recommend that you don't go and fully equip it all at once. Adding something every six months is much more effective.

Everyone comes over Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I buy cases of cheap Shasta cola and chips. Except when it is very hot in the summer, I do a head count mid-afternoon and then start making cheesy bread and pizza. (When it is hot I will offer to microwave popcorn). It is not unusual for there to be my three plus ten. I make pizza from scratch because it's cheap, but I know that teenagers have very indiscriminating palates. You can feed them anything.


  1. Oh, dear, but you have a good idea there in that first point. It shall be immediately incorporated into our arsenal.

    On the second point, please don't misunderstand my comment about the pool table in my post. That's for ME. I've been wanting one for years, along with at least one stand-up video game from the early 80s and likewise one of the old pinball machines from the late 70s/early 80s. It's only secondary (but also important in the current scenario) that they would be kid magnets.

    One reason I'm interested in becoming the "hang-out place" is because I'm fostering and it makes it easier, but another is that I'm pretty much still one of them at heart. One of the hardest things about this for me is that I have to be the "stupid adult" sometimes. Sigh.

  2. From the times they were little my kitchen has been the hang-out spot for their friend.

    Still is to some extent.

    Sadly, our small apartment in S. F.became a way station for homeless boys whose parents couldn't or wouldn't accept their sexual orientation.

    sometimes we were able to connect them with the support they needed; sometimes it was just a roof and a meal.

    I don't know if I was more sad or angry. These good Christians put their kids on the street?

    I like your first suggestion. My two little girls are grounded. I may write about it later but they are in serious trouble. Both of them. Said they were going one place and went another. Got busted.

    Take care up there in your red state. I have hopes that your victory will be permanent.

  3. Dan: Oh...well that I understand. I wish you luck on getting the pool table.

    Granny: I think it is getting better for the kids. Although Evan is certain example that it is not better for a lot of them.


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