You can listen to the people who tell you teens can't be trusted, or you can listen to two expert moms who don't want you to waste a single minute disliking your teenager. If the latter sounds good to you -- this is your book!
Lenore Skenazy, author of Free-Range Kids
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As the CEO of Envision Possibilities and the mom of twins I was delighted to read this book now before entering the teen years. The authors have put together a masterpiece that truly teaches you as a parent not to fear the teen years. I especially enjoyed the chapter on how listening is effective, because I work with busy moms who want to take their life back I will use this as a resource for those moms who have teenagers to help them navigate the parenting waters.
Dixie Andrade - the Mom Coach
I have a burr under my saddle about the latest reports of teens who can’t make their own decisions, stress out when they get to college, and have no “grit” – whatever that is. Media outlets and tons of parenting blogs all carry the message that this generation of teenagers just can’t function. They go on to attribute these useless and over anxious teens to their parents who hovered over them and performed acrobatic helicopter routines to keep their kids too safe. And all this denigrating of teens becomes a foil for one of my favorite complaints, “They all got ribbons for just participating. That isn’t how life works!” That is one tired, old saw. I have heard that one since I was in junior high, and that was in the 60s.
So I think the general delight in complaining about teens has hit another generational nerve: over parenting. We call it fast parenting, but whatever you call it, I’ll admit that is has a pretty big downside. Trying to keep your teen safe and disregarding your teen’s personality to further your own goals has at least two possible outcomes. #1 Teens who passively walk the path laid out for them by their parents and who are terrified of taking any risks. #2 Teens who lie and hide from their parents and never ask for advice or support for fear of what their parents will do or say. These outcomes of over parenting do not build a respectful, fun and sustainable relationship between parents and teens – the goal of slow parenting, but is it the root of all evil?
Teens can be tough. They don’t respond well to the same tricks and treats parents used when they were little tikes. Generally speaking, parents and other adults have looked for excuses/explanation of teen behavior forever. Why are teens so disrespectful? Why are teens so mouthy? Why do they take such enormous risks? One obvious answer is that they are teenagers; that is what they do. But that is not where we look for explanations for teenager behavior; parents get the blame. And knowing that they are going to get the blame has led too many parents to over protect their kids.
So I think the root of all parenting evil is how parents and other grownups judge parents for the behavior of their teens. We have set up a really nasty feedback loop that has resulted in some very, very anxious, depressed and paralyzed kids. The reports of increased depression on college campuses and reports of high anxiety among teenagers are real. There is a real problem, but it is deeper than just the parenting style their family used. And I think we can break out of it.
In fact, some families already have. Not all teens are frozen into inaction. Many of them are following their own paths, living fully at home or at college, making choices, talking to their parents, taking risks, helping others, pursuing their passions (or at least this week’s passion), and changing their minds and directions. They have been slow parented: respected for their ideas and personalities, they have had adults curious about them and not judging them, they have been encouraged, listened to, and praised. They are resourceful, responsible and resilient. These teens are fun to be with and show all the promise of being truly astounding adults and leaders.
To get there, though, their parents had to endure occasional criticism from other family members, parents, and teachers. (I had more than a few earfuls from coaches, too.) These parents had to respond well as their teens made mistakes with consequences for everyone. They had to be willing to listen when they didn’t want to, bite their tongues when they wanted to tell their teens what to do, and they had to hold a safe place for their teenagers to just be who they were that day. This hard work on their parents’ part helped these teens build healthy support systems, learn to take seriously their own interests, to take responsibility for their actions, and to ask for help when they feel depressed, anxious or just off. They are responsible, resourceful and resilient young people.
So my message here is this: Parents, quit worrying about how you look to other adults when they judge your teen’s behavior. Focus on your relationship with your teens, not on their behavior. This shift in perspective is the foundation of slow parenting and of raising resilient teens.