As I have seen a lack of resiliency in teens and working to create my own materials, curriculum and therapeutic approaches based on promoting resiliency. The teens that benefit the most from my resiliency program are the teens that also have parents that attend and participate. When families work together to make even small changes in some of the family dynamics, they see results fast and those results are far more likely to stick. Teens are far more resilient when the family, as a whole, is a stronger, more resilient unit.
I like to work in four areas with families as I find that most families need work in these four areas and making small adjustments, where needed, can make a huge difference. There are The four areas are:
- Effective Communication
- Appropriate Involvement
- Effective Problem Solving
- Mutual Respect
At first glance, effective communication is obvious and people tend to gloss this area over because, perhaps, of how much they hear about it but this does not diminish the effectiveness and importance of doing it well. It starts with good listening but also includes developing as well exercising empathy and understanding. Doing these things well will help eliminate barriers within families and parent-child relationships. A lot of the the communication work happens in session with me but I also usually send families home with some objectives on how to improve their communication.
For the record, I believe that “over parenting” or the more commonly used “helicopter parenting” is highly problematic for many reasons that I won’t get into other than to say that as a general rule, it completely undermines the relationship between parents and teens. There’s a low level of trust in these relationships and I have called into the question the motivation behind over parenting. “Appropriate involvement” is my resiliency based response to over parenting. Not all discomfort is perilous or detrimental. Some struggles are vital to building strength and resiliency but a lot of parents seem to struggle with knowing where to intervene and where to not intervene.
Overly involved parents forget that teens don’t want to experience pain and problems. Teenagers aren’t deliberately seeking to fall into life’s pitfalls and perils. They will avoid problems too if they understand those pitfalls and perils but I find that many parents are more caught up in forcing their teens to avoid issues rather than helping them understand them and avoid the problems themselves. I work with families to create a healthy level of involvement so that teens can avoid major pitfalls without compromising or harming the relationship.
Effective Problem Solving
I believe that a big contributor to the deterioration of parent-child relationships is the universal approaches to solving problems and issues or what appears to be a lack of effective problem solving and that is to punish and restrict. There’s a once size fits all being used these days, the punishing and restricting when that often seems to hurt more than it helps.
I engage families in processes that help parents work with their teen to solve issues and problems instead of working against them. The most ideal scenarios are ones in which teens are in charge of fixing their own problems and managing their own solutions. This takes the power struggles out of family relationships and better relationships happen more naturally as a result.
Each problem is unique and I find that unique problem solving is often needed but unfortunately, as I stated before, there seems to be a one size fits all approach to problem solving these days and that is, again, to punish or restrict when this isn’t always appropriate or effective.
This is probably the most complicated and most difficult area to explain and promote. Teens respond the most positively to adults that first set a tone of mutual respect. Mutual respect is about parents being the ones that set the tone of the relationship between them and their teenager. Understanding that trust, honesty and respect are much more likely to result when it is given first.
Parents violate trust, honesty and respect in ways they don’t realize or they justify these violations even though their justification does nothing to actually repair or retain a positive relationship with their teens. It can actually have the opposite affect because teens are finely tuned into parental hypocrisy. Teens are going to blow off any parent directives to be honest if they know their parents are being dishonest. Teens are going to close their parents off and refuse to engage in respectful behaviors if they disrespected first.
My goal is to help parents set a firm precedence in their family based around respect while resolving previous issues that exist between child and parent. Principles of mutual respect can act as a catalyst to accelerate the effectiveness of the other three areas.
These are the four areas where rubber meets the road. The families that engage in these processes together are the families that see results quickly and results that last. Contact me when you would like your family to participate in my family resiliency program.
The Power Parenting Method
A few years ago, I volunteered at my therapy agency to write and teach a parenting class for our parents who had teens in trouble with the law. I based my class on many of the skills that I had learned while working in treatment centers designed for troubled youth. I had built many skills over the years that helped me overcome challenges and obstacles with some of the countries toughest kids. After having an amazing experience teaching my class, I put the six week course into an ebook that I call “The Power Parenting Method.” My book breaks down into six lessons that cover the most vital skills when dealing with your teen. My book talks about empowering vs. enabling, communication skills, reducing conflict and power struggles, building relationships and so much more.
The Power Parenting Method can be purchased and downloaded on Amazon Kindle here.