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I Love You -- Now Go Away: The Push and Pull of Life with Teens

Value His Opinion

What's Up with Your Teen Kids are exquisitely sensitive to your attitudes toward and opinions about them -- especially whether you're respecting their budding autonomy. "Tweens and teens are very good at turning just about any run-of-the-mill conversation into a major battle," says Susan S. Bartell, PsyD, a psychologist and mother of a teen and two tweens in Port Washington, New York. "But the fights you're having aren't really about whether starting his homework before or after dinner is best. They're about whether he thinks you actually trust him enough to manage his own responsibilities."

How to Deal Solicit his ideas regularly: Where should the family go on vacation this year? Which computer should you buy? What movie should the family rent? Sometimes giving him the ability to choose is a lot more important than the choice itself. It signals that you value your child's judgment and opinion, and that you take his concerns seriously. Look for ways to work with him to ask the right questions so in time he'll learn to balance the rewards of doing something against the risks involved. Help him build good judgment by engaging in regular conversations about hypothetical risky situations. Ask things like, "What would you do if your friend put vodka in a water bottle and brought it to homecoming?" and talk him through possible scenarios. That way he'll get in the habit of thinking risks through.