I've been a child psychologist for twenty-seven years. Here's
the top thirteen teenager problems areas I see every day.
1) Out of home activities. Teenagers frequently want to "hang out"
with other teens, usually away from the house, or if at home, out of
parent's earshot or eyesight. Who they hang out with and how far away should they be allowed to roam are things teens prefer to decide, not parents.
2) Curfews. Teenagers want to stay out later at night, especially
after school functions, especially with their peers. They also want
to decide when not to come home.
3) Privacy. If a girl is visiting your home (if your teen is a boy),
should there be any "visiting" behind closed doors? Teens want privacy
like everyone else. They usually also want something else, or at least
are thinking about it.
4) Safety. If your teen goes home after school, does s/he go directly
home (no "dilly dallying") and stay there if the parent has to work?
After school, does the front door stay closed and locked and should there
be "friends" arriving before the parent? Should your teenager call you
when s/he arrives at home?
5) Electronics. What are healthy activities? Video games? How many? How much time spent on them? This includes cell phone and
6) Comparative Age. At what age should a younger child or teenager
have a cell phone? You'd be surprised at the range of ages I encounter. At what age should a teenager be allowed to take care of a younger child, either a sib or baby sit?
7) Makeup. When can a girl wear makeup?
8) Dating. At what age should dating be allowed?
9) Driving. When should your teenager begin driver's instruction?
Whose car is s/he going to drive? DOES s/he drive?
10) Grades. What is the minimum GPA (grade point average) necessary
to have some of these privileges? What is the minimum GPA, period?
11) Criminal Behaviors. Truancy is a lesser crime, but it does bring
up the issue of how to deal with a teenager who refuses to go to school?
At the "kid" level, other criminal behaviors are: fire setting, fighting
to the point of seriously hurting others (sometimes associated with gang
membership) or destroying property (e.g., "tagging"). Lesser "crimes"
are plagiarizing, or copying other's answers on tests.
12) Drug and alcohol experimentation. As parents, you may not recognize
when this first starts, but it likely will, and you will have to have some
policy and approach.
13) Visitation. In divorce cases, usually there is supposed to be
visitation with the "other" parent. What are the parameters of the visits? What if your teen refuses to go? (Theoretically, this is often regulated by the legal system, but practically, it is anything but...)