Wednesday, March 16, 2022


THE NEW PARENTING   [reduce your stress and theirs!!]

Almost no one could have predicted the rocket-like changes in our society.  And to be absolutely sure, parenting MUST ADAPT.

When I was a school psychologist MANY years ago, we told parents that by about the age of 12, they had lost real control of their kids.  Fast forward 20+ years – that loss of real control is far greater.

So what can a ‘modern’ parent do?  Here are four adaptations or adjustments to parenting - not huge changes, more like adjusting your grip on a golf club or using a Cuisinart rather than an electric mixer.

1.     Listen first, really listen. In 7 Habits of Successful People, Steven Covey said “listen first to understand, then to be understood.”  As a society [probably including you] we are busy form our reply when we should be listening intently.  Listening, according to one writer, is the greatest human compliment.

·       You will also find that by listening first, the level and intensity or arguments will lessen.

·       Listening shows respect.

·       As with each of these steps, CHANGE WILL BE HARD. You’ll make a commitment – then forget.  Not a huge problem – just reminding yourself that you’re human – and commit to doing “it” differently the next time.


2.     The next logical step is one we’ve used with much success: ASK, DON’T TELL. 

·       After you’ve LISTENED, ask a follow-up, non-confrontational information-gathering question [è usually TWO follow-up questions…] 

·       In delivering sales training a few years back, I did an entire sales presentation asking only questions.  I never made a declarative statement.  It takes preparation!

·       One frequent teenage reply to a question is “I don’t know” – and much of the time, that will be true!  They just didn’t think – they just acted!  So, this becomes you chance to GENTLY ask “How do you think you might react the next time this happens?”

o   Have 2 or 3 or 4 prepared follow-up questions in your mind:

§  “how do you think that went?” 

§  “what could you do differently or better the next time?”

§  “what did you hope or think the outcome or result would be?”


·       If you approach this properly, you can build an even better/ stronger relationship with your teen – non-confrontational, solution-finding

·       Socrates [remember him?] – used his Socratic method – questioning, leading students to their own revelations about their world, people, science, etc.

·       You should also be thinking within and about ‘Discovery learning’ – which every kindergarten teacher uses to lead a student to reveal THEIR OWN answer to a question or a problem.  It also enables far greater retention and even self-satisfaction – which we can easily call self-growth!!


3.     Be a coach, not a drill sergeant

·       Every time you speak harshly and forcefully – without improvement suggestions, you will change NOTHING. The more you TELL and demand, the less of a THINKING teenager you’re building.

·       If you notice, the best coaches – in sports, life, debate club, dramatics – don’t confront nor lecture - they TEACH and question and SHOW HOW.

·       Coaching involves but is not just teaching.  It’s also supporting, encouraging, injecting some renewed motivation!


4.     Lastly, QUESTION your expectation for this teen - your goals and hopes [and, in #3 above, did you encourage teach and support, or just assume they’d be as perfect as you were?].

·       Do you want a clone of you – or do you just assume because they have your ‘seed’, they’ll just be like you?  Do you want them to be their own person?

·       At the other extreme – in a brief survey last year, a very large number of parents “just wanted their teen to be happy.”  That was an empty, meaningless reply.  It hugely omits a parent’s role to share their wisdom and insight and valuable experiences with their own teen!

·       You also have a very important role in teaching values for your teen – which you will do by word AND BY DEED.

·       If you show laziness or constant tiredness or taking the easy way out, what could they learn?  And if you feel any guilt here, let it pass and become more of the parent they need.


And with each one of these steps, LISTEN, OBSERVE, offer constructive feedback as they evolve.  You will one day be proud of “what you built.”

If you have questions or would like more information, please email –

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