Talking with Your Teen -- David Elkind, PhD
It's the same idea as,
"Other kids will get hooked on drugs, other kids will get pregnant, not
me." That's how kids can get into trouble at this age of 13 or 14 because
they think they're special. That's when kids can really get into
question: I find myself
frequently asking my 15-year-old son if there were drugs and alcohol present at
the home where he has just spent time. I'm concerned that I am placing too
great an influence on the subject and don't know how to keep in touch with him
and his life without constantly questioning him about it.
Elkind: If we have done our job well, and communicated
our values, most kids find other people that share the same values that they
do. It's sometimes the kids that are not well-parented that get into trouble.
If you feel you have communicated your values, and you've set good examples, I
would trust him to find friends with the same values. Communicate that you
trust him to handle these things if they come up. If he senses you don't trust
him that can undo things you've taught in the past. So be careful in overdoing
We know our kids well, and
we know whether or not they are responsive to pressure. If we think our kids
are basically responsible young people, we should communicate that rather than
questioning whether they do or not. Leave it at that rather than interrogating
him after the fact.
question: I have a 14-year-old
(15 in November) who is ADHD. We have a lot of trouble communicating. He lies
about little things (not so much the bigger/important things). Every
conversation we have is an argument -- he has to be right and has to have the
last word. It is hard to differentiate between what is normal teenage years,
typical boy, and ADHD. HELP!
Elkind: It is difficult because sometimes being diagnosed
and on medication, there can be a lot of resentment from being treated special,
and so on, that can come out in other ways. Sometimes it's a personality trait.
I often find that when kids behave this way, often someone in the family has
the same characteristic.