As my adolescent grew into the teen she is today, I had a sense that in order to keep a connection with her and not lose her so to speak, I needed to not manage her. To not nag, criticize and tell her what I think she needed to be doing or when and how she should do it, as much as I could anyway. Sounds good right? If parents were to take a real honest look though, they might find they fit the description of a manager better than they think. It doesn’t make us bad parents, just not as effective as we could be in actually getting what we want: influence over our kids. Influence is defined as …”the capacity to have an effect on the character, development or behaviour of someone”.
So what’s a parent to do? How do we not lose influence over our teens? We know they still need us to be there for them. It’s not a time to disappear, probably a time more than ever to stay close by. What would work though?
I wanted to be her sounding board, on her terms of course, to be visible yet quiet, to smile, love, listen and to check in with her with few questions. And for god’s sake, keep all her friends straight or I’d never hear the end of that one! This strikes me as the role of a consultant.
Our teens are in a time of their lives where power, freedom and belonging are huge needs for them. Managing infringes on their needs and causes disconnection, consulting can help serve their needs while keeping a connection. This is where our greatest influence lies with our amazing teens.