This book, "Get Out of My Life," by Anthony Wolf, Ph.D., was written for my teen generation originally, but wow --- is this applicable today. There are some extremely important tips here that I did not know (and I've tried to read a lot of parenting books) that will help you survive your child's teen years.
For me, the most important tips are...
1. Your child's teen behaviors are truly a phase. They really do have to break away from you -- both physically and in their own internal psychology -- and that means rejecting everything about you, including your physical presence and everything you do or say. In order to become themselves, they have to become "Not You."
2. You do have a right and maybe even an obligation to be a confident, decision-making, parent. It makes sense that everyone should know what the boundaries are and that you should state them; it's only fair. That means that although your teen's tumultuous behavior has probably thrown you for a bit of a loop, you still are "The Decider." You need to be careful to choose your (a limited number of) battles, as you cannot physically control your child's every move, obviously: Nor would you want to. Also, realize that for any limit or rule that exists or is stated at all, your teen will feel immediately personally persecuted and evilly-controlled, as if you were suggesting that he be chained in the basement, rather than put his dirty dishes in the sink. So, choose a very limited set of "limits" or boundaries. The best way to get through this time is to decide what you think is best, state it once, listen to the child argue, and restate that the decision is made, and walk away.
3. Your child is arguing partly because he is not ready to wrestle with his own internal conscience and maturation steps. As long as he can blame you, he doesn't have to take responsibility for acting/becoming grown-up himself. This part comes with very helpful warnings that your teen will try to "trap" you into protracted conflict with him ("You don't really care about me," etc): Don't take the bait. Do follow up later if a specific issue is concerning.
4. When the teen makes a mistake and oversteps your or other given boundaries, confront him. Tell the teen that he has overstepped the boundary X and that it is not OK. Say, "We still do have boundary X." Walk away. You can impose a short restriction of some kind, but this would be fairly rare.
5. Do not continue to engage in protracted conflicts and arguing. It can lead to the teen running away and further souring. Therefore, validate your teen's feelings, briefly state yours, and try to stop the arguing by saying, "I see," "I understand how you feel that way," and "We can talk more later, I have to go," and then actually leave in order to stop the yell-fest.
6. The author feels that providing for the child is not contingent upon good behavior. I agree that the quid-pro-quo approach does not work. If the teen tells you to "F-off," and then asks you to drive him to the mall, you can tell him what you really think about that; however, with some time that's past, forgive and forget and just do things for them they don't actually deserve, per se, but you feel every child should have anyway. Remember, you are modeling patience and mature charity (of a saint).
7. Your child's grades could slip badly, which will seriously limit his future. Dr. Wolf says you could do a few things here: You could ignore it and let the school handle it, you could try to save your kid and do things for him, or you could stand over him, managing him, for an hour a day until his homework is done. I agree that saving your kid will not benefit him. Dr. Wolf suggests standing over him for homework every day. I don't think I can implement this anymore, however. I think my kids are just going to have to do a lot of repair work after their teen years are through to try to catch up to their dreams and goals, unfortunately.
8. Tell your teen that unprotected sex, drugs, and drinking is bad for them and illegal and tell him that if he is ever in a situation, however, he can call and you will pick him up, no questions asked. You just want him to be safe.
9. One of the best parts about this book is that the dialogue could be lifted straight out of our home. This is shocking. I think the worst I'd ever said to my mother as a teen was "back off!" LOL. It is hard to believe that a teen saying these things could in any way be "normal." Dr. Wolf shows that it is. Audible sigh of relief!
10. Last, I don't think this is really stated in this book, but I think it is implicit: Show and say things that make your teen feel that you are interested in his life and care about him. That means showing up to his events (but, you do not need to be seen by his friends!), providing helpful material items, asking him "how it's going," and stating appreciation for every good thing he does.
What do you think of modern parenting (and this book)?