Talking with Your Teen -- David Elkind, PhD
Kids are exposed to this all
the time, but despite the sexuality, they're still naive about sexuality and
it's mostly show. It should be regulated because sometimes girls can, by
dressing too provocatively, can create responses that they are not ready to
deal with. But you must accept the needs of the young person wanting to be
accepted by peers.
Where do we draw the
privacy line? Do you think it is OK to check our teen's email? To check which
sites he goes to on the computer? See what files he's downloaded?
Important question. Freedom is not an absolute;
it's relative. Children get freedom when they show they are responsible with
that. If children have a magic marker and they mark on the walls, they don't
get to use the marker anymore. The same is true with drugs. If young people are
responsible, we don't go into their rooms. If they give us evidence that they
are using drugs, they give that up.
Children should have the
freedom of privacy with computers as long as they are being responsible. We
make that statement that freedom and privacy is not an absolute. It's very
important if we do check out their web sites and so on that we have some reason
to feel that they are abusing the right. If we have no reason, it is an
intrusion to privacy. Freedom on the Internet is like any other freedom; it is
dependent on responsible use.
What are some of the
biggest mistakes parents of teenagers make?
Making rules that you can't enforce. I think
criticizing young people in front of others, and not recognizing that even
though they may be big, they still need a hug -- In private, of
Respect them as growing
adults, and set limits at the same time. Balancing freedom and responsibility
is a big one. Allowing them freedom but demanding responsibility is a delicate
thing. Have a willingness to listen and say, "You may not be willing to
talk right now, but I'll be here when you want to talk." And be there when
they want to talk.
Thanks to David Elkind, PhD, for sharing his
expertise with us. For more information please read The Hurried Child,
Reinventing Childhood, All Grown Up and No Place to Go, and
Ties That Stress: The New Family Imbalance, all by David Elkind,