Tips for Quarantined Families

By Dr. Robert Wallace

May 23, 2020 4 min read

DR. WALLACE: I'm a quarantined mom of three teenagers. Needless to say, these last three months have been challenging in a variety of ways.

Our family has had its ups and downs being all together in close quarters. I seem to recall that you've provided tips for parents of teenagers over the years in your columns. I know my husband and I could use a "refresher course" in dealing with teens these days, especially because our interactions are so much more intense than they were during the "precoronavirus" times, when we were all out of the house and busy with our individual lives.

Our teens are handling things pretty well, but I definitely sense an undercurrent of restlessness and awkward silences that make me feel like I could be relating to our children better.

I know I could use some suggestions right about now, and I trust many other parents who follow this column could likely benefit from them as well. Thanks in advance! — Quarantine Mom, via email

QUARANTINE MOM: I've compiled a list of 10 family concerns that teens have expressed over the years as the most important in maintaining a happy, productive family. I hope you will find a few that will help you to continue to maintain a harmonious family life, especially during these most unusual times.

Here they are:

No. 1: Teens want to know they are wanted and loved. Hugs, smiles and kisses should be a daily ritual.

No. 2: Teens want to be part of the total family. They want to help make some decisions on things such as curfew, dinner menus, family activities and household rules.

No. 3: Teens want to be trusted. Trust must be given freely but must be earned back gradually and consistently if broken.

No. 4: Teens need to be heard. Parents need to know that the most important part of communication is listening.

No. 5: Teens actually want reasonable family rules and want them to be enforced fairly. Never show favoritism toward one child over another, and never adjust enforcements without a very good reason — one that must be explained fully if implemented.

No. 6: Teens deserve an honest reason and explanation when the answer to a question is no. Parents should never use the words, "Because I said so"; a calm, logical explanation is always the better path to take.

No. 7: Teens want parents to play an important role in their active, often confusing lives. It is definitely an art to be available and involved without being nosey or overbearing.

No. 8: Teens want a mother and a father to show respect for each other. Parents should never, ever ask a teen to enter into a mother/ father debate or to be forced to choose sides when parents argue with each other.

No. 9: Teens want their parents to be good role models. Parents must lead by example and be as consistent with their own behavior as possible. Teens absorb and emulate their parents' behavior quite regularly, so keep this in mind.

No. 10: Teens crave logical, prudent guidance. They want parents to show them the best way to move ahead in new areas they have yet to experience. It's important to provide guidance upon request, but never try to live your life through the life of your teens.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

Photo credit: Skitterphoto at Pixabay

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