The links between risk-taking teen and parental behavior are often hidden in the variety of the risk taking. This can make them difficult for parents to see as the tools to perform the behavior may change from one generation to the next. Never the less, the parent is the one who ultimately gives consent to the risk-taking teen behavior by modeling their own similar behavior.
Though most parents realize on some level that they are the primary role model for their children, some parents believe this may end when the child enters the teen years and their friends seem to hold more sway than the parents. Parents may even be relieved by this in some sense as they see that the teen’s separation from the parents and increased time with friends offers the parent a new level of freedom. Parents who fall into this trap may live to later regret it. Children are far more perceptive than most parents would like to believe. Parents who embrace a new freedom are unwittingly sending a signal to their children that the children were holding them back from something. Regardless of the words used to explain things to the child, parents are still sending a negative message by their actions.
The risk-taking behavior of a parent may be exhibited in a completely different way than the teens. For instance, parents may find themselves drinking in inappropriate situations. The teen may see drinking as something they don’t want to do and instead become involved with drugs. This may surprise the parents if the parent does not do drugs, but in all reality, the teen is exhibiting the same behavior as the parent. They are simply using a different flavor.
Parents are the first people that a child tries to please. This behavior is in the foundation of the beliefs of the child. This does not change as the child turns into a teen, though their friends may not have some influence. The child can see what is acceptable by the behavior of the parents. Risk-taking parental behavior is enough to lay a solid foundation of acceptance for risk-taking teen behavior.
Parents should keep in mind that not all risk-taking behavior is negative. Sometimes people have to take risks to meet their goals in life. This type of positive behavior should be displayed and encouraged. In fact, it would be harmful to the child if they never learned to take a risk in their lives. If the parent has provided a solid foundation of right and wrong, the teen should understand what is healthy risk taking behavior and what isn’t. Parents need to keep in mind that no matter the lessons, lectures or consequences, their best method of teaching is to lead by example.