1. Have structure and enforce it.
Being a teenager is difficult as it is a constant inner struggle between right and wrong for the teen. The prefrontal cortex of the brain is responsible for problem solving, impulse control, emotional regulation, and social behavior and it is not fully developed until age 24. Therefore, driving at 16 does not mean a teen has all the needed resources to navigate life. Do not be nervous to get involved by providing guidance, chaperoning, giving advice, or providing discipline, as teens desire structure and help, but often have a difficult time knowing how and when to ask for it.
2. Expect more than the minimum.
Do not be afraid to challenge minor incidences because your teen is overall a “good kid.” Avoid restraining discussion about the yard not being mowed for two weeks because your kid doesn’t do drugs. The two are unrelated. Expecting less will yield less.
3. Do not save them from the natural consequence of some things.
Eighteen years old is often anticipated as a magical age to teens, in that everything will stay the same, but the need to answer to authority is nonexistent. Whether it is a boss, spouse, or police officer, there will always be authority figures in your teen’s life. The only thing “not fair” about consequences is that some teens don’t find out about them until mom and dad aren’t there to save them. Let them pay the fine for their speeding ticket.
4. Pick your battles.
This one speaks for itself. No one listens to constant nagging, it can be spirit crushing and ineffective. Teenage years should ideally be a time a teen is allowed to safely experiment in some areas. A bad haircut in the 9th grade probably won’t keep them from getting a good job one day, but a drug record will.
5. Do not be scared of your teen.
When it comes down to it, they are still your babies. This may be an awkward time, both for you and them, but it will pass. Chances are, confronting an issue, disciplining, talking about sex, talking about drugs, etc. will likely not make things any worse than ignoring it.