The following guidelines for parents of adolescents were drawn from talks with Dr. John Meeks and Judy Lansing of the Psychiatric Institute of Robert Dupont of Georgetown University, and mothers and fathers who have been there:
The cardinal rule is to talk with other parents for reassurance and to gain cooperation in setting standards for parties, curfews, dress, etc.
Some teen-agers test the rules, others do not. May variations lead to normal adulthood.
Adolescents, into their late teens, need (and usually want) limits. Parents should set them and enforce them.
Rules should be reasonable. Kids should understand, however, that some rules are non-negotiable, particularly those regarding drug and alcohol use and other aspects of personal safety. Teach children to be responsible for themselves by having them accept the consequences of their own behavior, good or bad.
Be willing to loosen the boundaries somewhat as your child shows genuine signs of maturing and making decisions on his or her own.
Listen to your child, and resist the temptation to judge or preach if you want to keep channels open.
Put an end to arguments with your teen-ager that go nowhere, saying you will discuss it when everyone is calmer.
Adolescents tend to be harsh judges of their parents. Maintain your self-respect and do not be apologetic for your values or your style of parenting.
Husbands and wives should work together in raising their teen-agers. Single parents should confer with close friends and relatives of the opposite sex to gain both male and female views on handling adolescents.
Try to preserve some family time each week. And supporting an adolescent's interest in sports, music, or other activities can bolster his or her self-esteem plus fill time in a useful way.
Above all, keep your sense of humor.