The Zealous Velocity of Seventeen-Year-Olds

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3. Ask your teen how he feels about driving in the dark, on highways, and new locations out of the local area. Offer to give them as much practice as they want until they feel comfortable. If driving together is a source of tension with you in the passenger seat, find an adult friend who is calm and cautious for your teen to spend some driving time with. If it’s affordable, there’s nothing wrong with driving lessons after you have your license.

4. The main point is collaboration. Be flexible as your child gets more comfortable on the road, but be sensible, too. Actually your teen wants your approval and to know that you have faith in her.

Curfews, Homework, and Chores

The same basic premise holds with curfews, homework and chores. If you and your teen have regular conversations and you want to discuss something like a curfew, ask your teen if she thinks she needs one, or if she has a general time frame when she’ll get home. Discuss letting you know where she is during the evening, so you don’t worry. Discuss just keeping in touch.

Your feelings count, too, and she can be aware of that.

Homework is really up to the teen at this point unless she needs your help with organization or general support. Basically just let her know you have faith in her progress and are available as needed.

Chores can be viewed as the family working together, not something to argue about. Her room is her room as she wants to keep it. As long as she can find things on her own, orderliness is really up to her. If she’s a messy type and vacuuming is a problem, let her know you’ll leave that task up to her if that’s how she wants it.

In other words, you and your teen try to stay on the same page. If she speaks in a curt tone, it may be her need for independence or the way she and her friends speak to each other: the “whatever” type of language. If the way you are treated feels like you’re taken advantage of, discuss it. Explain that you’re hurt and work it out together.

Seventeens are very capable of empathy and know what it feels like to have hurt feelings. They may not know what you take personally when they speak to you.

Seventeens lives are changing rapidly and if they know you have faith in them, they will rise to the occasion. Be available but not intrusive and they’ll ask for what they need and you’ll enjoy watching them grow.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with a new book coming out, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior. It will be released October 13, 2015.

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