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20 Things You Must Avoid As A Teen or Adult

20 Things You Must Avoid As A Teen or Adult

We should be living our lives without regrets. Going boldly into the day establishing a model for our teens that they can live fully and that an attitude of generosity and learning will take them far. Here is a quick list of 20 things to consider every day of you and your teen’s journey.

Stopsign

Make a great effort to avoid these pitfalls!!

1. Drifting Along

2. Setting a bad example

3. Wasting time

4. Being Selfish (not serve others)

5. Ignore reality

6. Take your family and friends for granted

7. Being Stingy

8. Thinking there will always be tomorrow

9. Making excuses

10. Not replicating yourself (investing in others)

11. Waste your talents

12. Sickness

13. Depression

14. Loneliness

15. Waste your money

16. Not sharing your strengths (yourself)

17. Not taking risks

18. Not chasing your dreams (if you have a job you’ll work everyday of your life, if you have a passion you’ll never work)

19. Not remaining a student

20. Not relying on something greater than yourself (faith)


Parent or Friend: Do I Have to Choose?

Parent or Friend: Do I Have to Choose?

The thought of being a parent can be overwhelming. Especially considering the teen years, it can be down right terrifying. I came across this blog post recently authored by Dr. Joanne Stern, and it sums up the delicate balance on the topic of being a friend or parent with your child.

Here is her post. The original post can be found here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/parenting-is-contact-sport/201103/parent-or-friend-do-i-have-choose

Friendship

You shouldn’t be friends with your kids. What they need is a parent, not another friend. Right?

Wrong. That’s a parenting myth that needs to be debunked.

Actually, there’s no conflict between being a parent and a friend. And here’s why. A parent who is approachable, accessible and has their kids’ best interests at heart grows a close bond with them. We just call that a friendship. And you can set boundaries and have effective discipline- because your kids respect you enough to obey you.

But let me explain to you what I mean when I say you should be friends with your kids. Your friendship is a caliber higher and a layer deeper than those they have with their peers. It’s a caliber higher because you bring with you knowledge, experience, wisdom, and mature decision making ability. It’s a layer deeper because you don’t get jealous or competitive with your children and you never abandon or betray them.

Think for a moment about how you are with your kids when they’re young. You are their friend. You laugh, talk and play games with them and you enjoy each other immensely. And, of course, you still maintain discipline. Your kids benefit immensely from this friendship because it establishes a solid base of trust and respect between you. Why would you want to back away from or sever that close and positive relationship when they reach the pre-teen and teen years- times when they’re struggling with their growth into adulthood and meeting big challenges along the way? In fact, these are the times they need your support, your caring and your influence the most.

But, parenting is an art, not a science, and there are several ways you can get off track with them. Let me give you some tips to help you stay in balance.

1. You don’t want to become permissive. Effective parents set boundaries and permissive ones erase those boundaries. You don’t hang out with them on Saturday night giggling about their boyfriends, using their slang, dressing like they do and trying to be oh so hip and cool. You don’t share inappropriate and intimate details about our life with them just to try to get close to them. You don’t give in to them so they will like you. A parent who is also a friend keeps the boundaries crisp and clear, but you let them know-and feel-that you’re there with them for the long haul.

2. You don’t want to be distant and aloof. If you were, you wouldn’t get to know them and they wouldn’t get to know you. There would be minimal trust between you, and they wouldn’t share with you what’s happening in their lives, so you would lose your ability to influence and guide them. If you’re closed down with them, they’ll close down to you. If you don’t open up to them and promote mutual sharing, the communication between you will be tense and surface. Communication is a two way street-in any kind of relationship. And it’s the bedrock of a relationship. So if you decide to be distant, you have to give up on being close to your kids.

3. You don’t want to be controlling. When you control, kids tend to rebel. Instead of getting on the inside track with them, they will be out to disobey and get out from under your control. They might rebel openly and loudly by looking for ways to sneak, lie and cover up; to be un-cooperative, to be sullen and to talk back. Or they might rebel quietly by getting an eating disorder-because you simply cannot control what they put in their mouths or what they don’t. Control doesn’t feel like respect, and if you don’t respect them, you can’t expect your kids to respect you.

4. You don’t want to become a helicopter parent. When you hover over your kids making all their decisions for them, trying to prevent them from making a mistake or-God forbid-failing, you actually damage their self-esteem. They see your hovering as a message that you don’t trust them and that you don’t believe they can take care of themselves. The more you guide them in decision making, but allow them to make their own-in age appropriate ways-the more mature and wise they become in making good choices. And you want to teach them that failing is okay. It’s part of the human experience. You can ask them what decision they made that led to a bad outcome, how could they have handled it better, what they can do to recover and how you can help. And you can model for them how to deal with mistakes by admitting some of your own. Instead of making them feel belittled, berated, humiliated, put down or stupid, teach them that failure is a learning tool.

So what’s the best position to take? Being a parent who is a friend because that’s how you help your kids most and that’s how you get to be the one they talk to-and listen to-even during the tough times.

10 Disruptive Conversations

10 Disruptive Conversations

In this socially networked age there are no more mysteries. Few things, if any, are sacred. We seem to have lost our sense of consequence. I think it’s because everything has become relative. If you want to do something, you can quickly find someone in the social sphere that is doing it and ‘having fun’ with little or no perceived negative side effects. How do we, as parents, make progress in communication with our teen? How do we continue to develop or maintain a high level of trust with our teen to help guide them through the mine field of justification?

Disruptive convo

It’s possible that we’re hanging on to antiquated methods and advice. After a recent conversation with my friend, Paul, what he said rattled my proverbial cage. He spoke about how a recent NPR interview discussed the principle of disruptive conversations. Our conversations have to change. We need to be bold and direct in a way that cuts through the clutter of 24/7 media. To get you started I’ve listed 10 areas where I believe our conversations must change. The change needs to come by being direct and bold (with an attitude of love) with our teen.

1. Boundaries
Boundaries are for our protection. They’re not meant to steal opportunities, rather to ensure that our teens continue moving forward and not distracted by everything that’s happening around them.

2. Accountability
Accountability allows us, as parents, the opportunity to teach our teens discipline. Following through with what is expected of them or following through with what they said they would do are priceless lessons they’ll thank you for.

3. Purpose
Purpose brings hope. Knowing and always discussing the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’ provides context and momentum. Life isn’t a series of BIG things. It’s often a string of small, seemingly insignificant things that equal something big. Keeping a clear picture of one’s purpose in front of them brings a solid reason why they’re doing what they’re doing.

4. Money
Let’s face it. We don’t want to support our teens forever. We’re raising them for independence. Having a solid basic understanding money is another tool they’ll thank you for later. If you need an easy starter check out Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. His website has a wealth of info to get you started. Click here to get started.

5. Relationships
Relationships are the glue that holds us together. Cultivating a solid relationship with your teen will teach them how to have healthy relationships in their own life. I’m not talking about being friends. I’m talking about respecting each other, listening, asking questions, setting clear expectations.

6. Morals
In recent years, the dictionaries of the world are adding words all the time. This word (Morals) might be the first word to be omitted from the dictionary. We’ve become a neutered society in that we’ve accepted that all ways are permissible. But that’s just not true. Every action results in a reward or a consequence. I strongly encourage you to define what it is that you stand for and what your don’t stand for and get to it. One interesting project is to design a Coat of Arms with your children. Don’t adopt one that’s already created. Build one from the ground up. It’s a fun project and will help you define, clearly, what your family stands for. Get started here.

7 School
Academics are key! Bringing the idea of purpose back into the conversation adds some relevance to that math test or english homework that seems trivial.

8. Respect
Likely another word to be omitted from our language altogether. This word has lost most of its importance. Looking to the past and honoring our elders (grandparents, veterans, personal heroes and mentors) while being aware of who is around us and why, we can start to build a vision of our future. By respecting people in our life and most importantly ourselves we can have a reverence for the importance of our time while we are alive.

9. Mortality
We will not be alive forever. We cannot live selfishly and not expect a major consequence. We’re alive to serve each other. To help one another. Without this critical truth engrained in our thoughts we will simply pass through life to not be remembered. Don’t let your life only end up as a warning to others.

10. Spirituality
What is your anchor? When the winds of life blow you around what keeps you grounded? Your faith brings hope for today and tomorrow. Your faith brings purpose, color to your world.

Your Teen Masterpiece

Your Teen Masterpiece

As parents we get busy. We have morning routines, school, sports, work, cleaning the house, just to name a few. This can quickly become a rut where “raising our kids” means just getting to bed time with as few arguments and injuries as possible. A dear friend of mine said that we have opportunities flying past us everyday, but we miss them because we’re too distracted.

Potter

Our kids represent great opportunities. Their lives are very moldable. In fact, they require it. If we don’t, someone will. And when “someone” does it usually leads to frustration on our part. By default, your teen wants to be led, or another way to say it is shaped by you. My kids were watching the documentary of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the famed body builder, recently. My opinion had always been ‘what’s the big deal? he has big muscles like all of the other guys’. During his interview he’s asked what separates him. Arnold had won Mr. Olympia several times in a row when his competitors couldn’t win a single time. His answer: (I’ll paraphrase) My competition are scientists and I’m an artist. He’s the sculptor and his body is the clay. As parents, we can read all of the books and go to all of the seminars to get all of the education, but the simple truth is that it’s not only education. Parenting your teen is also equal parts ‘You’. Your creativity, your experience, your perspective.

There’s great imagery here for parents. Our teens know nothing as they enter the world. It’s true that they have their own ‘leanings’, but it’s our responsibility, as parents, to see their leanings and encourage them, shape them, and lead them into their life fully ready to be independent individuals. This might start by defining what your family does and doesn’t stand for. Maybe teaching them to iron, cook, create a monthly budget, basic car maintenance. Preparing them for the next stage of their life by sculpting them into the masterpiece they were created to be.

What’s The REAL Question?

What’s The REAL Question?

As parents we’re smart, so smart in fact that we don’t need to hear the whole question or conversation that’s playing out in front of us because we’ve been there, done that. Right? Using our infinite wisdom and experience to quickly and easily wield our ‘solution sword’ to cut through any and all drama or need. We’re kind of like super heroes, but the problem is that the only life (read: time) we’re saving is our own. Our teens should be getting our best when ultimately they’re getting our worst. By simply not taking time to hear and understand we’re telling our teens that they’re not important enough for our time and that communication is a one way street or ultimately doesn’t matter. 

Conversation

Let’s change it. Let’s listen, but not just listen with our ears, rather be active listeners. Let’s do some full sensory listening. Listening with our eyes, mind and spirit (discernment). Let’s give some feedback to make sure that we’re understanding what’s being said to us. This is relationship, trust building stuff. Crazy things can happen when you don’t fully listen, but instead just give quick answers. Maybe your teen is denied a destiny altering opportunity or you give permission for something that has negative effects. The seemingly insignificant moments are where life is happening. Don’t miss them, because you’re too busy.

Our teens want to be heard and understood. When we take the time to listen and truly understand the benefits can be wonderful. It establishes solid communication skills that our teens can take with them into their other relationships. Our communication is not only about saying yes or no, but about having the opportunity to confirm their natural leanings. Their values and experiences are shaping their responses to what’s going on in their lives. Many times what they know to be true is flying in the face of their culture. This can feel confusing and their trust in you can bring clarity and confirmation to what they already know is true.  Our teens need to know that it’s ok to be guided by deeper meanings, by values and boundaries.

So here are 4 quick suggestions to get started being an active listener with your teen:

1. Be Present
Life is happening right now. The passive mind never wants to be where you are. It loves the past and the future. You can control your thoughts. So get control of where your mind is and bring it to the present conversation with your teen.

2. Every Action Is An Attempt To Have A Need Met
This should be your assumption every day. Regardless of how or what your teen is saying, choose to see that what they say and how they say it are attempts to have needs met. This brings real purpose to your conversations.

3. Slow down and listen
Determine what’s really being asked. The difference between listening and not listening is likely a matter of a few minutes in your overall day, but could give you the best Return On Investment you’ve ever had. If ‘now’ isn’t a good time, then set a time with your teen to talk so that you can be present. If you need time to think about your answer, then tell your teen that you need to think about it and give them a future time when they can expect an answer. 

4. ‘No’ is more than a 2-letter word
With your teen it must be more than, ‘because I said so’. They want to have dialogue. They have a need to understand even if it’s ‘agree to disagree’ because timing or values are compromised. A great question to ask your teen is, ‘can you explain to me why you feel that way?’.

Being an active listener provides lots of great opportunities to have teachable moments with your teen. Don’t miss out!

 

What are some of your strategies for listening to your teen?