Raising Teens: How to Raise a Teen (in 6 Easy Steps)

Be cool.
Not hip — calm. When your kid does or says something that drives you insane, Bradley advises playing the respectful, dispassionate cop. Not only does that keep the focus on your child’s behavior (the more you rage, the more it’s about you); you also come across as stronger and more in charge of the situation. Plus, calmness is contagious.

Offer options.
Your teen wants control; give him some. Bradley suggests presenting choices within a set of parameters. “Sorry, staying home won’t work. But you can come with us on vacation or stay at a friend’s house. Let us know what you decide.”

Don’t be afraid to be a dinosaur.
When you talk to your kids about sex, don’t be afraid to say you think abstinence is best. That said, acknowledge that their behavior is up to them. Says Bradley, “I think it’s important for parents to say things like, ‘I don’t think you should be having sex. But you’re going to have to make your own decision, so here’s what you should know about birth control.’”

Have (and enforce) curfews.
They limit what a teen can do, and may be the excuse your child needs to opt out in front of friends. (Sorry, can’t rob the Wawa tonight, gotta be in by 11.) Most important, Bradley notes, curfews remind everyone that your adolescent is still a child.

Ignore her purple mohawk.
Clothes and hair are mostly about teenagers figuring out their own identities, says Bradley, and are rarely worth a pitched battle.

Don’t change who you are.
Your kid sees you as boring, uncool and strict? That’s okay, says Bradley. She needs your stability while dealing with her own insanity.