4 Ways to Protect Your Teen with Boundaries

boundaries for teens

A study found that teens who use marijuana regularly before age 18 may have contributed to a significant loss in IQ, attention span, and memory in adulthood. That’s bad news. But the really bad news is that stopping doesn’t reverse the damage. That’s why setting boundaries and holding them is so important for parents. Our teens need our protection.

Teenagers have always pushed back against parental control—it’s a natural adolescent response as they make the awkward transition into adulthood. But the fact is that they still lack the judgment to make all their own decisions without parental guidance. Teens need boundaries, and you’re the only one who can provide them.

1. Not all teens are created equal.

One of the most common mistakes parents make with their teens is to assume that age means everything. Even among siblings, one child may be far more mature at 16 than another. Make decisions about the freedoms and independence your child is allowed to have based upon her demonstrated maturity—not the calendar, and not what her friends of the same age are allowed to do.

2. Don’t be afraid to break the norm.

Just because most of his friends go on dates with girls alone, doesn’t mean he has to as well. If you feel that group dates are the better option for your child, go with your instincts. If a particular night of the week has been set aside for family time, don’t be afraid to tell your teen “no” to other activities. Maybe the all-night after-prom party is a local tradition, but you see it as a fast track to disaster for your kid. Get a backbone and do what you know is best. Sure, other teens and even other parents will accuse you of being too restrictive or even backward, but you know what’s best for your child. Never sell out your convictions for acceptance.

3. It is your business.

Some pop psychologists will lobby for your teen’s right to privacy, but, really, if there’s nothing in their lives to hide from you, what’s the need? We’re not suggesting that you hover and eavesdrop like the CIA. But keeping tabs on where they are, who they’re with, and what’s taking place in their digital lives (online and cellular) is part of being a caring parent. You can’t ward off danger if you don’t know it’s there. And how else would you know?

4. Sometimes, they still want your protection.

Now, understand that they’ll never say it. They may not even fully realize they think it. But sometimes being able to say to peers that, “My stupid parents won’t let me,” is a great relief. There are times when they are scared, or unsure, and don’t know how to tell their friends that. Do them a favor and play the role of the bad cop. You were made for it.

Tell us! What is the hardest part of setting and holding boundaries with your teen?