Busting the Teen Troubles Ahead
  Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D 

Psychologist John Rosemond says that all parents who have teens at home must learn to handle the "5 C's."  Parents, who learn to handle the five "C's" have an easier time with parenting, maintain a more harmonious relationship with their children throughout, and can expect to see them develop into more responsible and self-disciplined individuals.  

The 5 "C's" refer to the five major issues that teens are most concerned about: curfew, cash, cars, conflict (with parents), and companions.  If parents lay the groundwork for teaching responsibility at a young age, they can expect to work with their teens in a spirit of cooperation rather than in a frenzy of confrontation.  

The first C is Curfew.  Struggles over curfew can be averted by planning ahead.  When your child reaches the age of 12 or 13, ask him or her, "How would you like to be setting your own curfew hour by the time you're 16 (or 17)?"  Since children love to gain independence, let's assume your "John" gives a resounding "yes" to such a proposal.  Present your incremental plan for curfew: the more responsibility John takes, the more freedom he gets.  

Let's say John 's weekend curfew is at 9.00 p.m.  Tell him that if he doesn't violate his curfew for six months, you will raise it to 9.30.  Thereafter, for every six months that are violation free, raise the curfew hour by another half an hour.  Advise john that coming in late, even by five minutes, will amount to a violation.  Do not accept excuses.  Set the curfew back by half an hour for each violation.  Write all the details down in the form of a contract and let John sign it.  Incidentally, you can use a similar incremental plan for staying up late over the weekends at home.    
The other four C's can also be managed by following the same principle: more freedom for assuming more responsibility.  

The second "C" is for cash.  Determine the amount you want to spend per month on discretionary clothing and recreation for John.  Let's assume you want to spend $60 a month.  Set up a checking account in john's name.  On the first of each month, deposit $60 into his account.  
Give John the responsibility for managing his account.  From those funds, he should be expected to decide the amount he wants to spend on small items such as going to the moves, and for big items such as the shoes.  Define the items that you expect him to buy from his account.  Don't ever give advances.  If John makes poor decisions, he must live with them in order to learn from his mistakes.  

The third "C" is for car.  Before you buy your teen a car, discuss John's responsibilities in detail.  Get him to take driving lessons at his school, if available.  Call AAA (automobile association) for a copy of their teen driving contract, discuss it with John and ask him to sign it.  Ride with him to observe his driving habits and his temper control in frustrating traffic situations.  Only after he meets these requirements should you buy him a car.  
As to the financial end of it, you may pay the insurance, gas and other maintenance for a specified period, perhaps three or four months.  After that, John should take over the running expenses of the car.  John must find a job and keep his grades up.  If his grades slide, he must quit his job.  This may mean that John wouldn't be able to afford the car.  If that happens, the car may have to be parked or even sold.  Discuss these scenarios before you buy that car for John.  

The fourth "C" is for "conflict" between you and your teenager.  Always attempt to avoid argument with your teenager.  Discuss, explain, and listen.  Do all those things, but don't argue.  The moment a discussion or an explanation turns into an argument, stop.  Make your decision and stick to it.  Tell John you understand his frustration, then walk away, even if he's still venting.  You'll never have the last word, so why even bother?
The fifth "C" is for companions, that is, what kind of friends your John has.  The kind of company John will keep should depend on how good a job you do of the first four "Cs." A lot of parents waste a lot of time fighting over their teens' friends, and rarely spend time in giving them lessons in reality and responsibility.  Teach your children about reality by fixing real consequences for their actions.  Give them freedom proportionate to the responsibility they assume.  Teens are more likely to value the privileges they have to work for.     
Strike a balance between freedom and responsibility.  Children who have earned their freedom are less likely to jeopardize it by irresponsible behavior.            

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