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What every parent wants for their child is to give them the tools to become mature adults who know how to make good decisions for themselves.
So, how can we help our kids learn how to make good decisions for themselves? When they leave the house at 18 years old, and we are nowhere around, if they are faced with a problem, they can look into their bag of tools and make a decision that is in their best interest.
The way I see it is if you want to get good a something, you have to practice. So, we have to give our kids practice with making decisions. Every time an issue arises, whether it be theirs or someone else’s, is an opportunity to let them practice. When something comes up where a decision needs to be made, instead of saying, “This is the way it is because I’m your parent,” try sitting with them and discussing the problem. Right down the pros and cons and ask them what decision would they make and why. Don’t get emotionally involved; in other words, try to keep your fears out of it.
Here’s an example: Your daughter says something about a girl at school who is smoking cigarettes at 12 years old. Instead of freaking out and saying, “ Are you kidding? She is way too young to smoke. Do her parents know about this?” This is an opportunity to communicate with your teen. By the way, the definition of communication is, “the exchange of information between individuals, not the opinion of one person.”  Ask your teen what she thinks about smoking, what are the things that are cool about it, and what are the things that are not good about it. You may be saying,  “COOL ABOUT IT? Are you crazy? There is nothing cool about it.”  Again, your opinion is not communication.  I guarantee there are kids that think smoking is cool. What are the pros and cons? Ask how they feel about smoking, and what they think about this teen smoking at 12, and if they think it is a good decision or not.  I’m not suggesting if they come up with more reasons to smoke then not that you buy them a pack of cigarettes.
Teens are pretty smart. Give them the opportunity to show you they have a good head on their shoulders. Again, the goal is to help them practice making good decisions. Don’t make the decisions for them through your opinions. What we want is for our teens to feel free to come to us with anything, If they feel judgments from us, which most of the time our opinions will feel like, they will not want to communicate with us.
So, here are the tips, plain and simple:

  • Start communicating with your teen; leave your opinions out of the conversation.
  • Every time something comes up that appears to be a good topic, eg. smoking, drinking, body image, sex, drugs, friendships, careers, schools, style, any topic will do, practice, practice, practice!
  • Practice by asking them questions about how they feel about it, go over the pros and cons, and ask them what they would do and why.
  • Use their mistakes for the opportunity to learn.

The more they learn how to make good decisions, the better decisions they will make for themselves when you are not around.  They acquire more confidence with who they are and continue to make good decisions. Would you agree that you, as a parent, have more experience with decision-making then your 13 year old? Of course, you do. So, make sure they feel free to come to you to learn this valuable process.
Parents, to learn how to help you teens make better decisions for themselves, check out my online program “4 Weeks To Connect With Your Teens” Summer Special Link.
To learn how you can also jumpstart building a better and stronger relationship with your teen, please sign up for a 15-minute Complimentary Discovery Session with me where I can help you break down some of your biggest obstacles.  Feel free to sign up for your free session here:
This is my PERSONAL calendar, so please take advantage and I look forward to talking to you soon!
©2007-2011 Debra Beck,
Want to use this article in your Blog, Newsletter or website? You can as long as you include this complete statement:
Teen and parenting mentor Debra Beck, who has spent over 20 years working with teens and parents, is a devoted mother, sought-after presenter, and author. She now runs her popular parenting website,, publishes the “Empowered Teens and Parents” newsletter, encourages girls to be the best “young women” possible, and gives moms and dads the understanding they need to help their girls mature with pride and confidence.  Debra has helped thousands of teenage girls with their self-esteem.  Her award-winning book “My Feet Aren’t Ugly: A Girl’s Guide to Loving Herself from the Inside Out”, has been revised and updated for re-release in September 2011 with Beaufort Books.
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