Presenting a United Front

In my article last month, I mentioned the importance of parents presenting a united front when experiencing teenage issues to avoid giving our kids conflicting and confusing messages and, more importantly, causing marital discord for ourselves.

However, we know that presenting a united front is much easier said than done, particularly when we are faced with unexpected and sometimes upsetting teen behaviour. Therefore, I have given this some further contemplation over the past month, and thought that if I presented you with some of the common issues I have experienced not only working with teens as a School Leader, but more importantly, as a Dad of a teen who has emerged out of the horror teen years as a lovely young man, then this may be of benefit to you. 

My suggestion for reviewing the following teen scenarios is to:

  1. Read them together as a couple
  2. Then without discussion, separately think of:
    i) How you will respond to your teen when faced with the following scenarios
    ii) What you think is a suitable consequence
  3. Then come together and share your ideas with each other
  4. Then the hard part; prepare to compromise
  5. Prepare a plan which you both agree to follow

In my experience we often parent by default without consciously planning ahead. I also suspect that many of us fall into the trap of unconsciously parenting in the way they were parented, without actually realising this. It takes an opposing view of a partner/spouse/co-parent who was raised very differently to you to realise this, and understand that there may be alternative solutions, views and consequences. 

Again, in my experience, it is when our views around our children differ from our partner/spouse/co-parent that relationship arguments arise. Often we think that we know our partners really well until our children come along and you realise that you disagree with your partners’ parenting views. Sometimes you may even be gobsmacked by them. Hopefully, if you are aware of the following teen scenarios before they happen, you can have a parenting plan and avoid much angst. 

  1. Your Year 8 teen is caught vaping at school.
  2. Your teen breaks curfew.
  3. Your teen steals money from your wallet.
  4. Your Year 10 teen is gambling substantial amounts online on sportsbet.
  5. Your Year 8 teen is looking at porn on their phone.
  6. Your Year 8 teen goes to a party and gets drunk.
  7. Your teen sexts an explicit photo of themselves to a friend.
  8. Your teen shares an inappropriate explicit photo of someone else on social media amongst all their friends.
  9. You find marijuana in your teen’s bedroom.
  10. You realise your Year 9 teen is sexually active.
  11. Your Year 12 teen has been driving after drinking alcohol.

As I have said before, good kids from good families make mistakes, and all teens will make a poor choice at some point, a choice which may shock you. However, if we are prepared, have a plan, know how you are going to respond as a couple, and then, can commit to sticking to the plan, it will help your relationship to grow stronger and provide your teen with consistent messaging. Presenting a united front is the key to successful parenting of teens and, more importantly, the key to a happy marriage/relationship.

If you would like more information on these challenging topics, please visit our Moriah College SchoolTV website:
SchoolTV is a fantastic resource that is designed to empower you as parents with credible and sound information as well as realistic and practical support strategies.

ABOUT THE AUTHORMark Hemphill headshot

Mark Hemphill is the Head of High School at Moriah College in Queens Park, NSW.

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