Five Basics of Parenting Adolescents: Model and Consult

Key Message for Parents:
Parents still matter; teens still care.

While teens are influenced by a growing circle of adults and peers during adolescence, parents remain surprisingly influential. Research has found that the values and beliefs that teens hold on such major issues as morality and politics tend to be similar to those of their parents. In addition, adolescents whose parents model appropriate behavior have better skills and attitudes regarding academic achievement, employment, health habits, individuality, relationships, communication, coping, and conflict resolution.

Research indicates that parents who have a stronger connection to their teen tend to have more influence on teen decisions, as do parents who choose ways of conveying their ideas that are respectful of their adolescent’s growing maturity in thought and action. The strategies at right reflect research findings that indicate teens need environments with neither too little nor too great a level of challenge: they need opportunities that enable them to learn from mistakes, as well as opportunities to try new coping strategies and experience success.


  • Set a good example around risk taking, health habits, and emotional control.
  • Express your personal positions on social, political, moral, and spiritual issues, including those of ethnicity and gender.
  • Model the kind of adult relationships that you would like teens to have.
  • Answer teens’ questions in ways that are truthful, while taking into account their level of maturity.
  • Maintain or establish traditions such as family, cultural, and religious rituals.
  • Support teens’ educational and vocational training to develop skills, interests, and a sense of value to family and community.
  • Help teens get information about future options and strategies for education, employment, and lifestyle choices.
  • Give teens opportunities to practice reasoning and decision making. Ask questions that encourage them to think logically and consider consequences, while providing safe opportunities to try out their own ideas and learn from their mistakes.