The Parenting Page: Taming Testy Teens

The temptation in our overanalyzed society is to blame everything but the problem. Experts continue to find new ways to define why the problems we have are out of our control and thus, we need either therapy or medication to deal with them.

Does anyone still believe our behavior determines our destiny?

Non-permissive parents accept that people should be held accountable for their actions. If your teenager misses curfew, does he or she blame someone else for their tardiness? If they flunk a test because they didn’t study, do they blame the teacher or other commitments for their lack of preparation? That is typical teen behavior. In fact, it is fairly typical adult behavior too. It’s the way our society has become.

Click here to view the video, American Family: When to Switch Out Your Child's Safety Seat

Instead of being held accountable, we search for other reasons, reasons out of our control, for the choices we make.

Does this description of a teenager sound familiar to you?

— Stubborn;

— Tests limits and pushes boundaries;

— Becomes easily annoyed;

— Loses their temper;

— Argues with adults;

— Refuses to comply with rules and directions;

— Blames others for their mistakes;

— Deliberately annoys other people.

Of course! It describes almost every teen at some point. How do you deal with it? One expert parenting Web site I checked out suggests that when our child’s behavior disappoints us, we should assume our children are well-meaning and that circumstances beyond their control are forcing them to misbehave.

You know, that sounds lovely to me. It also sounds like it was written by someone who named their baby “Starchild,” spent hours giving infant massages and has a teenager who rules their house.

“If we always assume the best about our child, the child will be free to do his best.” Wake up! Your child is always free to do his or her best. Non-permissive parents accept the fact that, even though their teens know right from wrong, they sometimes make mistakes. If not corrected, they will think the behavior is acceptable. Non-permissive parents tell their teens to control their anger, treat their parents with respect, follow rules, stop bugging their siblings and own up to their mistakes.

In contrast, permissive parents never blame the children or hold them accountable for their actions. Rather, they blame circumstances or disorders if their children misbehave. There is even one disorder identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association, called Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Every teenager I know is both oppositional and defiant. It seems to be in their DNA at that point in their lives.

I don’t want to make light of serious behavioral issues. Some teens’ actions are so over the top that they are borderline dangerous to themselves and others. Those teens truly need full-time professional help. There should be no shame in getting therapy as it can be exactly what is needed in conjunction with effective parenting techniques. The problem is that many parents use their teen’s “condition” as an excuse not to correct their own permissive parenting. The result is that small issues go unchecked, and the parents are shocked when the teen spins wildly out of control.

Like every other teen in history, yours will likely go through a period of being defiant, cantankerous, obstinate, and sometimes (you suspect) deaf and mute, since they don’t seem to hear a word you say and rarely reply with more than a grunt. What should you do? Permissive parenting Web sites tell you what you shouldn’t do.

Punishing teens does little to teach children about their mistakes, and the same holds true for lecturing. Most of us probably remember being lectured when we were young, and if we are honest, would readily admit that we dreaded it.

So I guess that means if kids dread punishment, we should not use it? Cuckoo. Cuckoo. Is anyone home? This is the kind of malarkey dished out nonstop by the permissive parenting movement.

Teens need structure and solid parenting, instead of a free reign with no consequences. Here are some important points:

1. Listen to your teen. Often, we’re so busy with our own lives that we simply don’t make time to talk. Sometimes they will have valid points that you need to understand. Once they realize you do understand the entire issue, they are more likely to abide by your rules or suggestions.

2. Be consistent. Focus on big issues that impact their health or opportunities. While I think the way they physically appear is important, I don’t think a messy room will keep them from being all they can be.

3. Pick the important battles. One trick I use is to say no to something that I really don’t mind that much and let them present the reasons why they should be able to do it. Then I say that they’ve presented good reasons why I should change my mind, and I do. They get to win on an issue and it role models the process of rational discussions. Teens learn they can get what they want through discussion instead of yelling.

4. Pass on morals and ethics. Think about it. If your children don’t learn from you, they will pick up lessons elsewhere. Almost any television show they watch will teach that lying, cheating and stealing are acceptable means to achieve the end result you want. They will learn that it’s acceptable to risk their safety for 60 seconds of fame. Be the person you’d like your children to become.

5. Resist the urge to want to be your child’s friend. They have friends. They need a parent.

It’s tough, it takes time, but you’re children will thank you for it in the end.

E.D. Hill is a FOX News Channel host and author of "I'm Not Your Friend, I'm Your Parent." She has eight children. Click here to read more about E.D.'s new book.