About Parenting

By Pedro Vera on Flickr

Whether you are parenting in 1950 or 2050, in the United States or Timbuktu, we know that parents are most successful when meeting some key responsibilities.

In particular, parents have major responsibilities to:

  • Love and communicate
  • Monitor and protect
  • Guide and limit
  • Model and teach
  • Advocate and connect

What do these parenting responsibilities mean?

Love and Communicate: Parents need to develop and maintain a supportive, accepting relationship with their teen. This includes behaviors that communicate respect, interest, warmth and affection. We must also allow for increased privacy, autonomy, and difference of opinion. Read our current posts about using digital media to Love and Communicate.

Monitor and Protect: Parents need to monitor their teens’ behavior and well-being by being aware of teens’ whereabouts, activities and relationships. More of the monitoring must be done indirectly which is challenging for parents. We need to seek a balance between need for supervision and need for privacy. Read our current posts about using digital media to Monitor and Protect.

Guide and Limit: Parents need to set clear boundaries in ways that acknowledge and promote teens’ problem solving and decision making skills. Combine rules and expectations with respect and responsiveness.

  • Explain the reason behind the rules.
  • Set limits for protection and guidance, not punishment and power.
  • Combine firmness and flexibility. Some rules need to be firm (e.g. no underage drinking) to allow for safety while others need to be flexible (e.g. curfew) to allow for the teens increasing competence and decision-making capacity.
  • Read our current posts about using digital media to Guide and Limit.

Model and Teach: Parents need to provide teens’ with ongoing information and counsel to support good decision making around values and goals. Parents teach by example and teens are influenced by what parents do and say. They tend to have values and beliefs on major issues that are similar to their parents (e.g. morality, religion, etc.). Read our current posts about using digital media to Model and Teach.

Advocate and Connect: Parents need to provide and advocate for teens’ basic needs (food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare) as well as a supportive home environment and a network of other caring adults. Read our current posts about using digital media to Advocate and Connect.

Strategies we use to guide and monitor our children to become successful adults often work better in combination rather than used separately. For example, showing our child warmth or love and at the same time setting limits has shown to lower risky behaviors and raise the odds that our teens are successful. Even though our teens seem to push us away, we are still very influential in their decisions, their life, and their future.

Source: Simpson, A. Rae (2001). Raising Teens: A Synthesis of Research and a Foundation for Action. Boston: Center for Health Communication, Harvard School of Public Health.