Friendship is very important to teens in general, but it is not until they are around 14 or 15 when parents begin to see that their children are spending a lot more time with their friends and less time with their family. The phone begins ringing off the wall and they may have five chat sessions going on at once. When a parent sees this, it is natural for them to be concerned, but there is one important parenting rule of thumb to remember – pick your battles wisely.
For many teens it does seem that this behavior is quite sudden. These children seem to be consumed with having friends and talk to their friends is all they want to do. Many parents dont seem to catch this behavior until it suddenly strikes their attention one night. The great thing about being a parent is that you are able to look at this behavior and make a decision on it and it doesnt matter how involved your teenager is, you can set limits whenever you feel like it. Why? Because youre mom or dad and you set the limits, you dont need to defend your decisions.
With this in mind you also want to look at your teenagers behavior as a whole. For some teens, they may be preoccupied with their friends and they let everything else fall to the side. They stop doing their homework when they get home and they dont help out with their household responsibilities. For these children, it is almost as if the nothing else in the world matter but their friends. If you see this occurring, then a new limit must be set and that limit is “work and then play.” If this means you have to take the phone and the computer keyboard to work with you, so be it. When you get home from work they should be done with their responsibilities and they are allowed to have the phone and keyboard back.
On the other hand, if your child is still keeping up with their school work and they are not slacking around the house, then give your teens all the time they want to talk on the phone and the computer. If this makes them happy and feel good then they should be able to do this. Now, if they begin to slack or you can never use the phone when you need it, etc. then it will be time to set some limits to get them back on track.
Remember, you were a teenager once too. You probably didnt find it too much fun to hang out with mom and dad either. Keep this in mind and watch for signs that they are getting in trouble. Set limits accordingly and pick your battles wisely. Its not worth fighting over if they are being responsible and having fun with their friends.