Why is it that some teenagers are just “easy” while others may make parenting during those teen years difficult and stressful? Lately, I have seen a number of “easy” teens, you know the ones that are engaged, polite, make good grades, have chosen nice friends, and all-in-all are typically a joy to be around.
I really enjoy talking to my teenage patients and they often give me a lot of insight into topics I need to know about (emerging fads, new social media apps, the latest teen pranks etc.). Many of them know about all of these things but at the same time manage to steer clear of the dangerous, crazy, or just plain stupid things that some of their classmates engage in.
While these teens do not seem to be judgmental about others decisions, they also recognize that many of the decisions may have long lasting if not life threatening consequences. Is it possible that their brains are “special” and they have somehow “fast-forwarded” and hardwired their immature, impulsive, risk-taking teen brains into young adult hood? I doubt that is the case.
One thing that seems to be the common theme for most of my “easy” teens has been a consistent and loving family. That does not necessarily mean that their parents are still married, or that there have not been some “bumps” along the way. But these teens have know about limits and boundaries and stability since they were younger. They are respectful of their parents (although not always polite), and often tell me that their parents are “mean” or “always around”. I think “mean” also stands for parents that are engaged, present and put their children ahead of their own needs at times.....isn’t that what parenting is often about?
Another common theme is that these teens have family meals, have limits put on their use of electronics, have bedtimes and curfews. They have had ongoing age appropriate conversations about the family’s morals and expectations since they were in elementary school ...consistency.
This may sound backwards, old fashioned or “throwback” but it seems that it still works for many families. I know that kids are all different, but EASY teens sure help keep parents less stressed and younger at heart!