Parenting principles for your ‘crazy’ teens
12/3/12 District 103's Learning Fund Foundations's Daphne Dickn-King (left) of the Lincolnshire gets a hug from Elise Hauptman as she arrives at author Dr. Michael J. Bradley, Author of "Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind", presentation to parents at Stevenson H.S. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 11, 2013 1:57AM
LINCOLNSHIRE — Parents: allow your teenagers to grow up while they are teens.
That means letting them make mistakes, suffer consequences, bring home bad grades and other horrifying specters of “poor parenting.” Otherwise, prepare for them to still be in their bedrooms when they are 40.
That was the message of Dr. Michael Bradley, a clinical psychologist who spoke to an audience of about 300 on Dec. 3 at Stevenson High School.
In a 90-minute speech, the author of “Yes, Your Teen is Crazy” laid down several parenting principles that elicited smiles at some points and quizzical looks at others.
• Free your teens’ schedules, and give them eight hours of sleep nightly instead of the 5.7 hours that American teens average. He said that simple rest erases the need for some prescriptions.
“A lot of what we treat and medicate with very powerful medications is sleep deprivation,” he said.
• Make them eat their vegetables and exercise.
“It would put people like me out of business,” he said
• If you are trying to protect them from evil music, violent video games and sexual TV and movies, give up: For all the spyware and firewalls you put on the computer, they already know the work-arounds.
Instead, show them what you value (through action, not talk), which will give them something to aspire to — and teach them to want more than just base entertainment.
“It’s over your walls, it’s in your camp. Go after their beliefs, so that maybe they’ll start to think,” Bradley said.
• The teenage brain is rewiring itself, from the back to the front. One of the results of this biological earthquake is that their sleep schedule changes: Most tend to be zombies early in the morning, but wide awake at midnight. Thus, plan talks with your kids late at night, and have questions that will prompt conversation.
“‘How was your day?’ is a stupid question,” Bradley said. “Tell me something good that happened to you today. Tell me something that sucked today.”
Bradley’s talk led to a second discussion on Dec. 7 at the Vernon Area Public Library, organized by the Community Parent Network, where parents shared thoughts about what they learned.
Michelle Rivkin recalled Bradley’s point about parents rescuing their teens from their mistakes – thus rescuing them from the life lessons they will need as adults.
“They’ve never really been able to fail,” Rivkin said.
Liz Treiber, a CPN committee member, said it usually takes about three weeks of practicing a new behavior for it to become a habit.
“Maybe by the new year, we’ll be able to see some changes,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll all be a little more sane by 2013.”