If you thought the infant years were tough, talk to the parent of a teenager. "When they were little, they had little problems," says Kim Hale, a Palmer, Pennsylvania, mother of a 16-year-old son and a 20-year-old daughter. "When they're big, the problems are big."
Along with those problems come parental worries, such as drugs, alcohol, sex, driving habits. And parents think: Will she turn out all right? Will he become a good man? Did I do a good job? Chances are excellent that you have done a fine job of preparing your kids to handle life's problems, says Cynthia Northington, PhD, assistant professor of education at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey.
To further put your mind at ease, here are eight signs your teenager is on the right track.
1. Your teenager is a careful driver.
"For teens, speeding is a form of high-risk behavior in many of the same ways that gambling is for adults," says Dr. Mark S. Gold, chief of the McKnight Brain Institute at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "Teens gamble that they will survive and not get caught by the police."
Research Gold conducted shows that young drivers who break the speed limit are more likely to gamble, use drugs, or drink alcohol than those who don't.
2. Your teen is planning for his future.
"The act of making plans is essential for the emotional and academic growth of a teenager," Northington says. If teens can visualize themselves with a future, they're less likely to engage in risky behavior that might jeopardize that future.