There are three ways to use the new PKR:
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One trick I learned late in my own parenting career after I had messed up for years is when and how to DELAY DIFFICULT DECISIONS.
Your 14-year-old daughter asks if she can go to a sleep-over where there will be boys. Your 16-year-old son wants to get a tattoo.
Take the time to think about what the best course of action is. Talk it over with your spouse or other parents. Arrive at a rational decision based on thoughtful weighing of pros and cons.
“C’mon Dr. Heins,” you might say, “why can’t I go with my gut feeling? I KNOW there’s absolutely no way Suzi is going to that sleepover or Jeff is getting a tattoo. This isn’t a difficult decision at all.”
Not to you maybe, but it is to your kids. When teens and preteens ask their parents if they can do something they are testing several waters. They want to see if they can convince their parents of the wisdom of a tattoo. They want to see if they can make themselves look cool in the eyes of their friends. But, most important of all, they are testing whether they really are grown-up enough to handle what they seek.
When a parent shouts, “No way are you going to get a tattoo! Over my dead body!” or similar “desperate parent words” the kid hears your panic and thinks, “Hmm, maybe I am big enough after all! Look how scared I got my parents.” This is how a simple request morphs into a decision to use his own money and get a tattoo anyway.
Better you say, “Wow! That’s a request I didn’t expect and I’ll have to think about it.” Then marshall all your pro and con evidence. Get all your argument ducks in a row before you give your answer.
Remember two basic principles as you rehearse your answer. One, you are still in charge, you’re the parent. Two, in very few years you will have no say whatsoever as your teenager will be out of the house and making his or her own decisions.
Thus it makes sense to hold your tongue until you have time to fully engage your brain.
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