By Danial Oberski
I wish I knew a formula to saving/reclaiming our kids. I suspect the
recipe is located somewhere between the swamps surrounding the
Fountain of Youth and the red mesas hiding El Dorado, the legendary
city of gold. Nonetheless, Ill try my best to cobble together a few
Listen! I know this bit of advice is as old as the stars
themselves; however, it is the single most important thing an adult
can do for any child. When I say listen, I mean listen. Turn off the
TV, the car radio the cell phone and pay attention. This is especially
true when dealing with a teenager, as teenagers speak volumes in their
silence. If your child is talking about their friends problem, there
is a real possibility that these problems are affecting your child as
well. Furthermore, the friend is likely to be your own child.
Withhold judgment! Whereas, you should actively listen, I should
mention the equally passive position of listening without judging!
Speaking truthfully and candidly is inherently difficult for a teen.
They tend to withhold pertinent and important information if they feel
theyll be admonished or castigated for it. I often meet kids silently
suffering and spiraling away because they fear their parents punitive
punishments and reprisals.
Do as I do, and theyll do it too! In graduate school, I trained in
the art of public speaking, which is essential when one is presenting
research at a conference. I was told that 7% of communication is
literal (words), 38% was tone and voice, and the remaining 55% was
reserved for body language. The same can be said of dealing with
If I tell a student what to do, I can expect at best a 10% return
on my investment. If I ask quietly and calmly, maybe a 40% return. But
what if I demonstrate the behavior I want? What if I ask Billy not to
swear and at the same timenot swear? Modeling desired behavior is a
supremely effective tool at achieving this aim. Above all, avoid
hypocrisy! Kids are acutely aware of hypocrisy. A hypocrite can
rapidly erode respect and endearment lending to disillusionment.
I was older then, Im younger now! Remember what it was like to be a
kid? We tend to think kids are getting worse with each generation.
This isnt true! Kids smoke, drank and rattled cages in the 60s, 70s
and 80s. Kids were having sex too! The difference is how society has
shifted its expectations of acceptable behaviors. Todays teens are
thrust into adulthood as early as 12 years old. Freshmen are
encouraged to plan out career goals! Subsequently, behaviors that were
once loosely tabbed as boys being boys are now identified as crimes
and subject to correction.
Theres no success like failure, and failure is no success at all.
Ive made mistakes, a lot of them in fact. Teens need to know that
despite an early stumble they can still finish the race in first! I
dont get upset when a kid makes a mistake. Im disappointed, but Im
not mad. Science is a cumulative process of self-correction. So is
life. Taking a risk and failing is succeeding so long as you
recognizes the weakness.
Its the differences that divide us! I play video games and love
music. I share my interest with the kids. We talk about favorite
movies, books, stories, music, and cartoons. The more things we have
in common, the more sincere the respect. Respect is key!
Be like water! Be willing to acquiesce. Compromising and bartering is
a sign of strengthnot signs of weakness. We all make deals with
friends, family, bosses and God! Trading favor for favor can be an
effective methodology to correcting disruptive behaviors.
Be consistent. Ill say the same thing in the morning! Be consistent.
Be consistent. Be consistent.
Send me a postcard. Kids may not immediately understand or appreciate
the reasons for your actions or your favorite phrases. Im only now
beginning to fully appreciate my mother. So believe in your actions,
believe in your wisdom, even if your teen doth protest too much.