1. Take an interest in their lives. Ask about their friends, their friends’ parents, and how their day was. Initiate a conversation that requires more than a one-word response or grunt.
2. Lay down some boundaries. Even if they are teeny, tiny boundaries, like bedtime, or how many nights a week it’s ok to stay over at a friend’s house, or when and where it is acceptable to poke a new hole in your body. Apparently, rules serve no purpose other than to force your kid into a box of conformity and suffocate all their individuality.
3. Allow them the opportunity to amuse themselves — without electronics — for an hour each day. Encourage them to use their imaginations, or OH THE HORROR, read a book. Refuse to cave in to the pending panic attack caused by the separation anxiety due to the loss of the iPhone or iPad for thirty minutes.
4. Give them chores. Ask them to haul their knee-high pile of filthy clothes to the laundry room themselves, or, oh sweet merciful heavens, to rinse the dishes or load the dishwasher. How dare you try to instill a sense of personal responsibility toward their own living space, or teach them how to properly load a washing machine so that they don’t destroy their entire college wardrobe the first month away from home!
5. Ask them to participate in family time for at least half an hour each day. There is nothing in the world quite as lame as Family Game Night, especially if it’s an activity that requires everyone to be in the same room, or *gasp* interact with each other!
6. Talk about the hard stuff. Like sex, drugs, politics, religion, and why there’s a towel under the bed that could stand up on its own.
7. Show up. You don’t even have to sit on the front row. You could be hiding out in your minivan in the parking lot, with the windows rolled up. Just being there is enough to scar them for life.
8. Try to help… with ANYTHING. If you haven’t learned by now, you don’t know jack shit. You were obviously hatched fully grown and never lived through any teenage drama yourself, so you have nothing of interest or relevance to contribute to ANYTHING your teen might be going through right now.
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