A recent university study has found that teenagers have fewer problems when their privacy is respected at home. This means that parents do not open their mail, eavesdrop on phone conversations or search their rooms, especially in the absence of a serious problem like obvious drug abuse.
When teens feel secure in their own little private corner of the house, they are likely to feel more trusted and competent — getting a valuable foretaste of independence and, since they aren’t so inclined to fight for independence, they are more likely to share more of themselves with parents!
Also, respect your teen’s privacy regarding his body. Young teens are often quite self conscious about body changes. They can be devastated by teasing or critical comments. Don’t ask invasive questions about sexuality, like “How did you make out?” This reinforces peer pressure for your son to be sexually active before he’s emotionally ready.
Do let your teen know what your values are, and your availability to discuss any matter, or to answer any question.
Accept your teen’s separateness — allow areas of privacy in his life. This can help him to grow up to think for himself, and to take more responsibility for his own life.
Dr. Wibbelsman, M.D., is an award-winning author and former “Dear Doctor” columnist for Teen magazine. Chair of Adolescent Medicine for the Permanente Medical Group, Northern California, he is chief of the Teen-Age Clinic at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Francisco, and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco Medical School. Dr. Wibbelsman is the news anchor for a Bay Area television series, “Medicine in the Nineties”.