Friday, August 6, 2010

Parental Monitoring Redefined

It's 10:00 p.m. . . . do you know where your children are? If you are old enough to remember that public address announcement, you probaby are raising a teenager by now. And you probably ask your child the same questions everytime he or she heads out the door, "Where are you going? Who are you going with? What will you be doing? When will you be home?" It's our job. We worry about their safety, yet at the same time, we understand their need for independence.

Research shows that teens who voluntarily communicate their activities to parents, allowing them to be aware of their activities and whereabouts, are less likley to be negatively influenced by peers or to get involved with problem behaviors such as substance abuse or delinquency.

Research also suggests that stringent parental control or tracking of teen activities is not the answer for preventing adolescent problems. Rather, its the quality of parent-teen communication and the strong emotional bond that make the difference.

Teens may be more likley to avoid the behaviors that parents disapprove of if they're worried about harming the good relationship and trust they already share with their parents. They also know they must be mature enough to make smart decisions in order to continue to have some freedom. If the teen has earned a parent's trust, they gain more independence.

This confirms that the parent-child bond that is built and maintained over a lifetime can be more powerful than parents suddenly enforcing strict rules and constant monitoring when their child becomes a teenager. And let's be honest, Mom and Dad, we can better enjoy those few quiet moments in the house when we feel good about our relationship with our teen!