q&a with teen expert brooke miller
Continue the conversation after the "Teens in Danger" episode when Ricki's guest, Psychotherapist Brooke Miller stops by TheRickiLakeShow.com to respond to your comments and questions throughout the day.
Miller addresses the most commonly asked questions from parents and teens. Post your questions in the comment section below.
Raising a teenager takes the saying, ‘there’s never a dull moment’, to a whole new level. Teens are in the in-between of it all. They are trying to figure themselves out and get comfortable in their skin by feeling out their environment and trying every emotion (and pair of jeans) on for size. As their parent it’s your job to be caught right in the middle of it all while staying cool, giving your teen freedom to explore and simultaneously keeping them safe and yourself sane. HA! No problem, right?! If you’re confused about how to manage your teen, congratulations, you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be! Here are answers to a few tough questions that might help you along the way…
My teen asked me if I ever smoked pot or drank alcohol when I was a teen. Should I lie or tell him the truth?
Teens ask adults questions about their past in order to help them learn about themselves. They are looking for common stories, ways to relate-- I call them “me too moments”.There is something about the moment when a parent humanizes themselves by sharing truthful experiences…it gives teens permission to be human too. So use this question as an opportunity to connect, share, and educate, helping your teen to develop their identity along the way.
If you don’t have any history of drinking or doing drugs of any kind, share that truth with your teen and tell them why- what led you to that decision and how were you able to continue that lifestyle in our modern society, filled with peer pressure.On the other hand, if you did do drugs or drink, share that truth, (no need to tell them the details of that one night…) and share what you learned and how you felt. Make sure to include some moments when you felt uncomfortable, unsafe, or pressured, and how you handled it.
The point is to be honest while always focusing on the themes in which you feel your child might relate,like peer pressure, making decisions, getting in trouble, wanting to ‘get away from it all’ and school pressure. Your teen will be reminded that you, contrary to their current opinion, actually have been through things that are similar to what they are going through. There’s nothing better or more effective than a little “me too moment” between teens and parents.
Should I support my teen daughter in getting on the birth control pill?
I’m a huge supporter of the pill (and of giving teen condoms). The fact is, sex-- having it, thinking about it, hearing about it, talking about it, considering it, watching it on TV, etc., is happening in teens lives whether you like it or not.
And in the land of good parenting, the goal is to talk about things that are real, rather than avoid them because you feel like you’re going to be sick at the thought of what your teen might be doing. Whether or not your teen comes to you and asks for the pill, you go to her and she rolls her eyes so hard you’re certain they’re going to pop out of her head, or somewhere in –between, the consideration of birth control (pills/condoms) is the perfect start of a very important conversation, opportunity for education, and chance to connect with your teen and learn more about their inner-world. Approaching your teen or responding to their approach about birth control can build trust between you and strengthen (or create) your connection, so make sure to take a breath and proceed without judgment and with an open heart. Listen more than you talk, ask questions, and remember that teens are itching for honesty and information. Remember, successful parents communicate about things rather than shoving them under the rug.
How do I make sure my teen doesn’t succumb to peer pressure?
Welcome to the holy grail of parenting a teen. The most important thing to remember is that when your teen succumbs to peer pressure, it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong as a parent, it means you have a teenager who is exactly on point in their development.Healthy teens less likely to succumb to dangerous peer pressure are both confident in themselves while curious about others, and can seek support when they need or want it. The only way for them to find that sweet spot is to have parents who support them in getting there. Give your teen positive feedback, allow them to share their feelings and experiences without your judgment, provide outlets to express themselves and ask them what it is about those outlets that they enjoy (art, dance, sports, etc.,). Teach them about the importance of listening to others, accepting others, and including others by being a parent who listens, accepts, and includes. Peer pressure is an opportunity for teens to feel accepted and validated by others.
If you make sure that your teen accepts and validates them self, they will be one gigantic step ahead.