Parenting Teens: What We Can Control, What We Cannot

parenting teens and youth

Parenting Teens: What We Can Control, What We Cannot

As a parent, I know that the thought of parenting teens in today’s world can seem a little scary. When we turn on the news nowadays, it seems like we’re bombarded by violent news. Another child abducted after being lured through the internet. Another bombing in Europe. Another massacre in Syria. Another mass shooting in the US. It seems like the world is becoming more and more violent–but is it really?

Steven Pinker–recently shown on NPR–believes we are naturally filled with empathy for our fellow human beings, but that nurture has a large affect on how we treat others.

Violence has actually declined

parenting teensAccording to Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychology professor, violence across the world has actually declined since the middle ages. How is that possible? We see it everywhere, it seems to be happening all the time, how could it be lower? Because before this time of technology, we just couldn’t see it. It wasn’t in our face daily. Homicides and deaths from interstate wars have actually plummeted over the years. Believe it or not, Pinker says we’re in the most peaceful time of our history.

But why were we so violent back then? Pinker believes it has to do with conditions and our exposure to other people. He believes that the more we humanize each other, the more our true nature comes out–our empathetic nature. When people are taught that a group or race of humans aren’t like them, aren’t part of their group, it’s easier to be crueler to them. But when those walls get torn down, it’s harder for us to fight that natural empathy.

I know it can be hard to believe that empathy is innate when parenting teens–they seem so careless and unempathetic. But as a parent, you truly do wield a huge amount of power over how your teen ends up seeing the world–it makes you think a little more deeply about parenting teens, doesn’t it?

Love and acceptance when parenting teens

To really make a difference in the violence of the world, we need to be parenting teens and youth with acceptance. We need to influence them to be open-minded, love others, and strive to empathize, even when it seems hard. It seems that the phrase, “place yourself in their shoes” is closer to our nature than we thought–we just have to nurture that nature to keep it in place.

ViewPoint Center can help

ViewPoint Center is a teen assessment center for adolescents, ages 12 to 17. At ViewPoint Center, we provide superior assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and stabilization–all in a personalized environment for your child in crisis.

For more information about how ViewPoint Center helps struggling teens, contact us today at 801-825-5222!


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