TEENAGERS need just as much parenting as a two-year-old toddler but mums and dads are reluctant to do it, according to Barbara Adair.
Ms Adair is the manager of statewide telephone counselling service Parentline, which receives about 10,000 calls a year ? about half from parents needing help with teenagers.
She says that if parents are concerned about about children running off the rails, drinking or mixing with the wrong crowd, they should step in to do something about it.
And their teens will probably thank them for it.
"When children are very young we set boundaries for them but when they are adolescents parents don't do that," she said.
"Teenagers need boundaries to be set for them ? just as much as a two-year-old.
"If parents don't set limits for their teenagers, they can't complain if the children won't do as they are told.
"Despite what many parents think, teens do want parents to set limits."
Ms Adair, who will be guest speaker at a forum for parents of teenagers to be held in Coffs Harbour on September 6, says many parents are unsure what power they have to set limits for teenagers and feel they have been stripped of their rights to discipline their kids.
It is a view Senior Constable Sue Kady, the Coffs/Clarence Police youth liaison officer, agrees with.
"Parents have to be more diligent when it comes to con- troling teenagers," she said.
"They feel they are unempowered but that is not the case. They do have the right to say no and to expect certain behaviours from their children."
Sen Const Kady says parents need to be proactive to help keep their teens safe.
"Parents have to stay one step ahead of their children," she said.
"If a child is invited to a party, parents should drop them off and pick them up at a prearranged time.
"It is also good to call the parent of the person who is having the party and to get to know the parents of their children's friends."
Mobile phones are an important social tool for teens and Ms Adair suggests they can be used for discipline.
"One good way to discipline a teen is to limit the use of telephones," she said.
"Why give your child mobile phone if you are trying to discipline them.
"Parenting teenagers is hard and requires diligence and persistence ? you have to take a stand and stick to it.
"But remember, teens expect discipline and they expect par- ents to be parents."
nDo you need help parenting teenagers or want to know more about disciplining children when grounding no longer works? A free forum for parents will be held on Tuesday, September 6 at the Coffs Harbour Ex-Services Club from 6pm to 9.30pm.
Barbara Adair will be the guest speaker and there will be a panel of representatives from drug and alcohol, education, police and youth services. Details: Ruth Allen, 6652 7666.
Parentline: 13 20 55.