Parenting advice from a teen that could change your life
Every week, my husband has lunch with my grandson Nick, who’s now 17. As Charles was about to leave the house yesterday to pick up Nick, a crazy idea came into my head. Why not, I thought, ask Nick if he could come up with an idea for our next post? The one you’re reading now.
Now Nick is an intelligent 11th grader and an amazing basketball player, so it's no surprising that he doesn’t read our blog. He’s more a TikTok kind of guy, if you know what I mean. Still, I wondered, let’s see what Nick comes up with.
So they sit down in Fusion Sushi in Hermosa Beach, and Charles asks Nick for an idea or two.
Nick’s first idea was amazing and lovely and, sadly, unusable. In Nick’s own words, he thought we should write a post here about “how homeless people could rebuild their lives.”
Oh, my God. What a topic!! And for all you homeless people reading this now, I profoundly apologize for our not tackling it. It’s too huge, too complex, too dependent on political, economic, medical, and sociological perspective, and the help needed varies so much depending on the individual. This could be a 2,793 page bill awaiting the President’s signature. We should be so lucky!
But it certainly needs to be our focus, if by “our” we mean us as a country. Good for you, Nick.
It’s Nick’s other idea that we are going to write about, because it IS right up our alley.
He said we should write about “how adults can fit in with the new trends of kids.”
Meaning...?” my husband asked him.
Meaning... “Kids want to be left alone. Parents should leave their kids alone. Stop bugging them all the time. Stop nagging. Stop pushing. Stop yelling. Just Leave. Them. The. Fuck. Alone. You don’t like apps like TikTok and Snap Chat? Too bad. Just stay away.
Let your kids deal with that stuff and figure it out. And MOST ESPECIALLY let your kid do what he or she wants if they’re doing okay in school. All that bugging you parents do? It’s worse than useless: it drives your kids away and makes them hate you and makes it even LESS likely you’ll be of any use to them.”
So that, pretty much in Nick’s words and/or his sentiments, is Nick’s blog post for today.
Now Nick, of all kids, gets it that plenty of kids need help. So, okay, fine, if you can, get your kid help. Duh! Some kids are drowning and that can’t be allowed to happen. But the bugging, noodging, nagging, pushing parents do is really just performative parenting by overanxious, competitive parents. It isn’t the answer.
Where does the answer lie?
IF you haven’t made your kid allergic to you by all your nagging and lecturing and pushing, then there’s a chance you’ll have an actual relationship with your kid. One with some real affection, connection, and respect on both sides. That’s your power as a parent. Don’t piss it away!! Use it to talk WITH, not AT your kid, and maybe you’ll have a chance to help your kid get help if they need help.
That’s your best shot. Actually, that’s your only shot.
Now there’s a coda to this story. A generation ago, when one of our daughters—Hannah—was a teenager a little younger than Nick, she said to us in almost exactly these words, “Hey, you guys should write a book about parenting teenagers.” Which was certainly the greatest compliment the parent of a teen could ever get!
Well, we did just that. It became our first book, Parent/Teen Breakthrough: The Relationship Approach. And it went on to be named the Parents’ Choice Best Parenting Book of the Year.
And guess what? Though what we said was more sophisticated and thorough—we were, after all, respected and established family therapists at the time—it said, pretty much, what my grandson Nick said yesterday at lunch with his grandpa, plus a lot of very specific help.
If there’s a teen in your life, get ahold of a copy of Parent/Teen Breakthrough. Join the crowd of people who’ve thanked us for changing their lives.