Safe Harbor

Raising a teen can be frightening. As your teen becomes less communicative, you may wonder if he's hiding things from you such as drug use or other dangerous activities. Asking him straight out if he's in trouble can be less than effective. Teens need their space.

Clandestine Activities

Perhaps you remember certain clandestine activities you undertook to push your parents out of your teen years. Perhaps you hid things, locked your door, or took the phone into the next room to chat with friends. This need for privacy is your teen's natural way of becoming an individual and not just a part of your family.

While he's going through this phase, he needs and wants an adult in his life to act as a mentor or role model, but not everyone fits the bill. Parents are at the top of the list of who doesn't get to hear his intimate angst. On the other hand, a grandparent may just fit the bill.

Voice of Reason

Even though grandparents never experienced the threat of guns in their classrooms, nor ever had to resist the temptation to use recreational drugs, this doesn't seem to detract from their ability to bond with their teenaged grandchildren. Parents tend to color their observations with judgment, but grandparents are a voice of reason, unconditional love, and experience. Grandparents don't feel the same pressure as parents to make their teens conform to their standards. They have more patience to just listen, to be a sounding board and a sympathetic confidante. Teens sense this and can often unburden themselves to grandma or grandpa.

Then, of course, there is the added benefit that grandparents often have more time than a parent to sit and listen to a teen. Today's families tend to consist of two working parents. Time is a rare commodity. A grandparent can be there for your child, when you cannot.

They've Been There

Grandparents have also learned a thing or two about teens, having raised some themselves. That means that they know that the more they press their authority, the more likely it is that a teen will shut down and pull away. They've mastered the art of really listening, asking insightful questions and hearing the answers. They've learned how to establish a relationship with a teen by taking an interest in their activities, asking them to share their favorite music, and what they like about their friends.

The best part of involving a grandparent in your teen's life is that you can trust them to let you know if your teen is involved in something that could cause him harm. Parents can trust that even if their teen has said, "Don't tell Mommy, but I'm pregnant," a grandparent will know when it's time to break the silence and share a difficult teenaged secret. You know they have your teen's best interests at heart, as do you and you know that your teen's physical and emotional wellbeing comes before confidentiality issues. Perhaps they will cajole your teen into telling you the secret himself, with the grandparents on hand to lend emotional support, but when push comes to shove, grandparents will not allow a teen to harbor harmful secrets.

Grandparents can give your teen a sense of belonging, of continuity and of history. They can be the shoulder on which your teen can cry, offering comfort and aid in this scary modern world.