by Elizabeth Kolbert This MUST READ article from The New Yorker presents a compelling theory for why American kids are entering almost permanent “adultescence” — not coming of age until they’re almost 40 including marrying later and later when it’s often too late to have kids of their own. Click Here for the whole article. (Thanks to […]
This is a question I recently received from a concerned mother: “My son (14 years old) confided in me that his best friend is doing something that his mother would totally not approve." "With a heavy heart I told the mother - who is also a friend of mine, because I would want to know." "My son’s friend got into trouble and now my son is very upset with me.” “Did I ruin the relationship with my son?” Click Here for my answer:
I like to tell parents that there are only two kinds of trouble teenagers get into…. The kind you know about and the other kind. I know this doesn’t bring much comfort, but what does? Some parenting experts will tell you that the path to worry free parenting is to become informed. Worry and anxiety, they will tell you, come from a lack of information, or to be frank, just plain ignorance. According to this logic therefore, the more you understand, the less worry and anxiety you will have. And in truth, with everything else in our lives, this theory sort of works. However, when it comes to parenting, the only people who seriously think they have a shot at knowing what there is to know about raising children are people who don’t have any. I have yet to meet the parent who proclaims they have figured it all out. Parenting ignorance is in its own league. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a criticism. In fact, to be a healthy parent, it’s important to appreciate that parents have what I call “perfect ignorance.” Why?
"Only you” should talk to your kids about drugs. Listen I don’t want to scare you or anything, but we are talking about drugs. If you were the only one talking to your kids that would be just fine. But that world doesn’t exist - your kids talk to many other people. Unfortunately, parents often fail to take into account the other "advice" their children are getting. To fully appreciate what you are up against, we have put them side-by-side, comparing what the “experts” recommend with what your child's friends are telling them: This is what the experts (D.A.R.E.*) tell you: “Tell your children that you love them and you want them to be happy and healthy.” Now this is what Your Child’s Friends (Y.C.F.) tell them (sometimes more than you): “Ditto.”
A lot of what you hear on parenting sites about kids being online can be described as something like the bubonic plague coming to a town near you. Most parents' attitude towards social media is akin to holding back a slowly crumbling dam. They would like to stop the flood, but they also know it's a losing battle. However, I'm here to tell you that social media (if used correctly) can be one of the best parenting tools since Sunday morning cartoons. Ever since human beings could scratch their heads trying to figure out what their progeny was up to, parents have wished for a daily report on their child's thoughts and actions -- something like the daily security assessment the President gets from the CIA. Your child may think of Twitter, Facebook, et. al., as the latest cool experience. But for a parent, they are better than satellite pictures over Iran. The problem parents are facing is they don't know what to do with the information once they've got it. Sounds like the old Chinese proverb of being careful of what you ask for. Therefore, I present here some practical approaches to the new era of what I call Facebook Parenting.
This question comes from Julie Harnish: “My sister wants to do a 5 minute 'huddle' with her 16 year old son every morning to 'check in' and hear what might be challenging him that day. Looking for 3 questions that would maybe help to prompt his memory or what he has on his agenda for the day...” Winston Churchill bemoaned trying to understand what was really going on behind the scenes in Russia. Obviously he didn’t have teenage boys.
I have to confess and I don’t remember how old I was, but when I was a little boy I was always getting lost. It wasn’t that I was trying to run away or sneak off, it’s just that other things easily caught my attention and I was soon walking in a completely different direction. I tell you this because I still remember what it was like to realize I was lost, and it’s not pleasant. After one particular episode, this time in a foreign country, my father in his wisdom realized this was probably going to be a regular occurrence and therefore told me all I needed to know.
This question was recently posed to me: "My son told me he got an 86% on his Math test. He was somewhat proud of himself, however I looked at him and said, "You didn't try hard enough.” He (the son) got quite angry and said, "Isn't 86 good enough for you?" I know he’s really good at math and if he had tried harder he could have got a 90 or more. Am I being too tough in expecting more from him?"
I don't care what your net worth is, there's nothing like saving money. A person might be driving a $100,000 car and feel good saving $5 in gas. When gas goes up, I fortunately don’t have to tell the kids, “No jelly on the peanut butter today,” nevertheless it still bugs me to no end that the next gas station sold the same stuff at a 3 cent a gallon discount. Something is going on here that is clearly more than just the money to live. Just like all pleasures are not the same, similarly there are different types of pain. Judaism asserts that there’s a certain type of anguish whenever you spend more than you need. It’s not simply about saving money. Our rich friend above could have bought a car for $10,000 and over spent on gas the rest of his life and still be financially better off. It’s deeper than that…
Please don’t think I am bragging, but it’s more than a couple of times during my week that I say to myself, “I live a charmed existence.” I know what you are thinking, “Aren’t those pills illegal?” One of the aspects that is a real treasure is the varied and interesting people I have the pleasure to teach and talk to. It ranges from teenagers to seasoned multi-millionaire businessmen and everything in between. The consistent issue teenagers have is this -- they think they are not going to end up like the rest of us – now there’s a joke. Which is pretty much what I tell them. The issue with everyone else is that they can’t remember what it was like to be a teenager.