Teen Corner

The Unsupervised Child
by Louise Bilman, LCSW, MFC

Whether it is from physical, mental or emotional inadequacy, or whether it is from indifference or abuse, we believe that many of the parents of delinquent adolescents have not provided tenderness, loving care, a sense of stability within the family, guidelines and respect for social responsibility, or the supervision a child needs from adults to mold a firm enough character to survive in a difficult world without resorting to criminality.

Parents Responsibility to Child:

1) Protection of the Child
2) Role Model for Child
3) Good Attachment for Child

Staying in touch with Your Teenager
by Diana Taylor, Ph.D.

Feeding your teenager and his/her friends is an excellent way to break the ice. Teenagers are growing and as you know have a formidable appetite. Have plenty of pasta, sauce and bread in your freezer. While feeding your teens talk about any and all issues, from world politics, crushes, drugs, whether to have or not have sex, goals, teachers, sports, the sky is the limit. Subjects can be brought up indirectly, a less threatening way for some teens. For example: I heard about a teen who gave a party while her parents were out of town. One of her many uninvited guests took out her parents car for a ride and crashed it. Do you think it is possible to have control of who comes to your party if your parents are not there? What would it have been like for you to be at a party where that happened?

Young people need to talk, be heard and feel safe to ask questions and discuss values. Many middle class parents reduce the need for a teenager to leave their bedroom. They equip the room with a computer, a private phone line, television, stereo, and some times a small refrigerator. Many families no longer sit together for meals and communicate in the house via email. Think of the message we are sending our children: You go ahead and entertain yourself, be self-reliant, I am too busy to interact with you. Plus teenagers do not want to spent time with adults anyway.

Many parents greet their children starting to drive with a sense of liberation, not realizing that the car can isolate the youth even more from his family. Remember that according to brain research, a young person's brain is only fully developed around 19 years. Making errors in judgment, impulsive behavior and poor planning is often age appropriate and not necessarily defiant behavior. Provide adequate supervision and ask your teenager to check in often and commit to a time when they expect to return. Curfew should be set at the time in the evening your kids and his friends start to get bored.

"Runaway and Homeless Youth: The Effects of Attachment History on Stabilization." Stefanidis et al, (1992), American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 62(3) July 92

"The effects of attachment antecedents on response to stabilization were examined in a group of runway and homeless youths aged 12 to 17 years. The attachment histories of those who were not responsive to stabilization showed significant differences on several measurable criteria from the attachment histories of those youth who were responsive. The clinical and programmatic relevance of these findings are discussed in this article."