It is not uncommon for well-intending parents to go into problem-solving mode and take control when their teen approaches them for help. When a teen has found themselves in a troubled situation, one of the biggest mistakes a parent can make is to own their problems and take responsibility for solutions.
The Parenting With Love and Logic approach (Cline and Fay, 2006) suggests three tips for helping teens own their problems as well as their solutions.
1. Build a strong self-concept
By fostering a positive sense of self, teens find value in who they are, and have confidence in their ability to make decisions without a constant need of approval.
2. Help them learn how to make decisions
This can be done by letting them own the responsibility of their decisions, instilling the message that whatever decision they make will determine the quality of their life. The choice is theirs.
3. Make it clear who owns the responsibility for a particular problem
Rather than rescue or berate them for mistakes, Parenting With Love and Logic parents help their teens by offering choices, suggesting possible solutions to problems, and choosing to share control in the process with love and empathy rather than anger. Without threats, repeated lectures and ultimatums, teens learn real-world lessons and develop the skills necessary to thrive successfully as adults.
When parents are able to release some of their need for control, give their teen opportunities of responsibility, and empower them in the process, they are facilitating the growth of a responsible adult.
A teen with a sense of control over their lives, and parents that walk alongside them-rather than hover over them- has the potential to develop into the person they want to become, rather than the expected version of themselves that mom and dad have created.
For more ways to integrate the Parenting With Love and Logic approach into your relationship with your teen, you can refer to Parenting Teens with Love & Logic written by Foster Cline, MD and Jim Fay (2006).
Michelle Rathburn, LAMFT