Power Parenting: How to Offer Teens Choices

I am a huge fan of Love & Logic parenting techniques. It alleviates power struggles, raises responsible children, and gives them healthy self-esteem. Here is an article on How to Offer Teens Choices.  (This is effective for all ages. I used a version of this when my children were toddlers to teens). I would inundate my kids with choices. When they got in trouble, they could repeat my words, “I know, I made a bad choice”. I would reinforce my love for them but let them tell me what choice they made.  My kids grew up understanding the relationship with their choices and consequences.

When my youngest son was an adult, he kept asking me to tell him what career path he should take.  I told him that I don’t tell adult children what to do. “Whatever path you choose, I would support your decision”.  Years later, he thanked me for not telling him what to do.

The most effective parents are always thoughtfully surrendering control by offering their teen choices, and those choices should always be within limits their teen’s choices, and those choices should always be within limits the parent can live with and enforce. This is the consultant parent way; we are there to advise, ask questions, and present options; then it is up to the teen to decide the course of action.

The best time to give teens choices is when things are going well instead of waiting until things are falling apart. The pattern can be set basically as “Would you lie to have juice or milk?’ when they are younger, and then continued later with, “Would you like to be home at 10:30 or 11:00 tonight? You’ll come out ahead if you give choices rather than orders. By giving their teen many choices when things are going well, effective parents create a type of “savings account” in their teen’s mind, allowing him or her to feel- and actually, be -in control. Then things aren’t going well, the parents can say, “Wait a minute, kid. It’s my turn. I am going to make the choice on this one.”

Cline, Foster, and Jim Fay, 1992, Parenting with Love & Logic, NavPress