You may think that the problems of high-profile celebrity teens has no real relationship to your own kids, but there are lessons to be learned. Some of the same scenarios are playing out in regular households every day—just on a smaller scale. We’ve boiled the most important of these truths down into a simple formula:
Fame + Freedom + Fortune = Foolishness
1. Too much freedom too soon is a disaster waiting to happen.
Your teen may not be traveling the world on a concert tour, but do you really know where they are and what they’re up to? To keep tabs on your child’s whereabouts—even when they accuse you of not trusting them or respect their privacy—gives them some measure of accountability. What’s more, many teens whose parents took a totally hands-off approach later confess a secret desire for more boundaries. It communicates to your teen that you care, and adolescents still desire that, even if they won’t admit it.
2. Too much fame too young is damaging.
It’s easy to dismiss this one if your child is just a regular high school kid and not an entertainer. But modern parents have to recognize that the internet and social media (like Facebook, Twitter, and Snap Chat) have created a scenario where some level of “fame” is available to every kid who wants it. Is your child exposing too much of herself (emotionally or physically) online? Being too public with things that could be damaging to her later on? Placing too much importance on numbers of followers and “likes”? Help your child to recognize the downside to improper use or overuse of social media for her own good.
3. Too much fortune too soon enables bad choices.
Parents of celebrity teens often lament that it’s almost impossible to enforce behavioral limits on a child who has his own money. And while your child may not be independently wealthy, the amount of cash we hand over to them can open the doors to some disastrous choices. Many upper-middle and upper class communities see heavy drug and alcohol use among their teens simply because their kids have the money and vehicles to get the stuff. Before you hand over cash (or a car, or a gas card) to your teen, make sure you have an understanding as to how it will be used—and enforce it.
4. Youth and foolishness go hand in hand.
This is not just an anecdotal observation—it’s a scientific fact. The brains of adolescents develop unevenly. The parts which mature first control coordination, emotion and motivation. But the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which controls reasoning and impulses, doesn’t fully develop until age 25. This leaves even the most grounded young person somewhat vulnerable to bad decision making and prone to risk-taking. The only way you can alleviate these risks is by exerting some control in areas 1-3 above, and by staying alert. Your child may be taller than you, but between the ears—he’s still a child. Love him by parenting him well until he’s truly emotionally and psychologically capable of handling it on his own.