Good communication runs deeper than techniques. Ultimately it is a reflection of the warmth and the fundamental philosophies of the parent. Research on parenting shows that the most successful outcomes in parenting teenagers come from parenting approaches that use three basic patterns:
Successful parents of teenagers create a nurturing atmosphere in the relationship, offering closeness and caring as opposed to being distant, preoccupied, angry or resentful.
The quality of the relationship has proven to be much more important than the actual techniques used in parenting.
MODERATION AND FLEXIBILITY
Parenting is most successful when parents are moderate on setting rules, avoiding the traps of being “authoritarian” meaning overly rigid, structured and inflexible, and also avoiding the opposite extreme of permissiveness. Parents who are flexible consider their teenager’s perspectives and input, and are willing to make adjustments accordingly. This process of give and take is correlated in the research with intellectual growth, higher self-esteem, internal locus of control, and development of competent social skills.
In a recent study, “Firm but Fair parents had children with the lowest risk of heavy drinking. Authoritarian parents who were strict–high on accountability but low on warmth– more than doubled the risk of heavy drinking. Permissive parents, who were low on accountability but high on warmth, nearly tripled the risk of the teen’s heavy drinking. (“Teens and alcohol study: Parenting style can prevent binge drinking”. Brigham Young University and Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. July 2010.)
Neglectful parents, low on warmth and low on accountability, were not included in this study. However, other studies suggest that neglectful parenting can produces children with disturbed attachment patterns. Children of neglectful parents may also show high rates of truancy and delinquency
A third successful parenting strategy involves relinquishing control and giving teenagers decision-making power in certain areas of personal choice. Autonomous parenting also includes giving teenagers a voice in choosing family rules and consequences, and in making family decisions. Allowing this kind of autonomy is correlated to reduced conflict with parents, higher achievement, lower rates of depression and anxiety, fewer behavioral problems, and improved self-regulation.
Effective Communication with teenagers involves conversation patterns that invite a teenager to express opinions and explore ideas, and receives those opinions with respect, as if the parent were listening to a friend or peer. Good communication also creates warmth by expressing empathy, approval, admiration and interest in the teenager, and by administering consequences and limits in a way that is firm, but not shaming or demeaning.
The full-length, commermcial free program can be downloaded (or $0.99 using a PayPal account.