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Parenting Teens

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Extra, Extra!  Read All About Extra-Curricular Activities

Being involved in extracurricular activities is an important part of the life of a well-rounded teen.  Not only do they help young people develop a variety of skills outside the classroom, but they also look good on applications for college and first jobs. 

At the same time, extra activities can also suck the life out of otherwise healthy teens and their families, becoming all-consuming idols that require constant care and attention.  The key to getting the most from these activities is balance, both for your teen and for your family.

The first thing to consider when your teen brings up a new activity is, "How does this fit into my long-term life goals?"  While not every activity has to contribute to important life choices, the amount of time your teen spends with the activity needs to be consistent with how important that activity is to his future.  For instance, a star athlete hoping for a sports scholarship should spend more time practicing than a poor player who is just doing it for fun.

The next consideration is time.  How much time will this activity take?  How much effort will be required on the part of the family?  Is there even time in the family's schedule for another activity?  If this activity is very important to your teen's future, it might be appropriate for him to drop another project in order to pursue it.

In addition to time considerations, take a moment and consider the impact this activity will have on the overall good of the family.  Will dinners together go out the window?  What about vacation plans or other aspects of family life you value?  Again, you must measure the importance of the activity against the positive and negative family impact for deciding if this is right for your teen at this time.

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