Ellen Pober Rittberg is the mother of three. She had three children in three years, and she is an attorney who spent 13 years representing young people. These experiences have given her insight, which led to writing, "35 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You, So I Will."
"I wrote this book as a message to parents that you can do this," Rittberg said. "I think that it is probably the hardest time to be raising a teen. There are head-spinning technological advances and threats to their safety. They are encouraged to dress provocatively by celebrities whom they see dressing provocatively. And peers are more important to them than family. The book is really a form of cheerleading in an informed, honest and positive way."
Rittberg believes the biggest mistake parents can make is to trust their teen all the time. She cautions parents that even though their children seem really smart, their judgment is impaired, and they will make poor decisions because they are adults in the making.
"35 Things Your Teen Won't Tell You, So I Will" is the manual I wish I had had when I was raising my teens," said Rittberg. "I didn't want to be preached to, and I didn't want to read clinical pieces written by educators, psychologists or medical doctors. I wanted to know the practical dos and don'ts, the big mistakes to avoid, what to do when you are at the end of your rope and ways to enjoy the challenge of raising teens."
Rittberg encourages parents to be open to the idea that they can learn to be a better parent.
"When I was pregnant with my first child, I read a ton of books because I didn't know how to parent," said Rittberg. "We need to continue exposing ourselves to information that will help us be better parents. Parents also need to consider the values they want to impart to their children and how they will be intentional about doing it."
Here are a few of the 35 things Rittberg wants you to know:
* You shouldn't be your child's best friend. We have a role as parents to be responsible and reliable. If you act like a teenager, your teen won't respect you.
* Your child needs meaningful work. Anything that encourages a healthy work ethic and sense of family duty is a good thing.
* To know your teen's friends is to know your teen. If you want to know what your teen is up to, get to know their friends. Make your house a welcoming place. You have to be there when they are there.
* A parent should not buy a child a car. There are consequences. The biggest is that the child who doesn't earn a significant portion of the car will likely total it soon after getting it. When they have worked for it, they will take better care of it.
* Know your child's school. School officials should know your face, what you do and that you want to help.
* Curfews are good. As the old saying goes, nothing good happens after midnight.
"Parenting teens is challenging, but you can do it and be good at it," said Rittberg.
E-mail Julie Baumgardner, president and executive director of First Things First, at firstname.lastname@example.org.