Don’t debate the teen ever. If she wants to debate, suggest she sign up for the Debate Club, thank you very much. If you buy into their teen logic (which is basically illogic, the product of an immature brain and every extreme of emotion known to mankind) your mouth will go dry and your ears and nerves will surely fray. Teens need to know that no means no. Remember when your teen was two years old and he said “no” a lot? Well now it’s your turn, particularly when your teen want to engage in behaviors that are dangerous, or which might negatively affect their future academic, social or job prospects.
Encourage sports participation even if your teen has two left feet. In some sports, two left feet won’t knock him out of the box, so to speak. Sports participation develops perserverence and cheerfully functioning as a team member. You also will know where your child is every day after school (on the field, that is, or at a rival school). Just make sure you root for the right team, okay? Been there, done that.
To know your teens’ friends is to know your teens. Teens have a secret life, and a parent’s goal is to penetrate the veil of secrecy that is sometimes thicker than the CIA and the KGB combined. If you really want to know what your kid is up to, get to know their friends. How? By being warm and kind, and by asking questions that don’t sound like an interrogation, but which serve that purpose without their knowing it.