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Health & Parenting

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Contracts of Trust Between Parents and Teenagers

A written contract may help parents with developing trust in teens. Here's how to begin negotiations.

Contracts of Safety

A contract of trust can be either a formal agreement written in ink and signed by all parties, or a less rigid oral contract that may follow a discussion of expectations. Contracts may stipulate how much time a teen devotes to schoolwork, and how much access the teen may have to the car. But effective contracts are often limited, and focus on critical safety issues.

"In particular the one that I like is the contract between the parents and kids that if the kids need a ride home from anywhere, any time, the parents will pick them up, no questions asked," says Sege. "And they'll be in no more trouble than they would have been for, say, curfew violation."

"One of the common things, particularly among suburban kids where they're driving everywhere, is that they'll be at a party and either they or the person who drove them will be drunk or stoned and they have to figure out how to get home," he says. "To have the parents function as a taxi and not even discuss it with the kid until the next day provides a safety valve."

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