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I did a workshop on “Family” last night.  The group asked me to come and talk about the dynamics of parenting.  In the room were a couple of dozen interested folk, most of them parents, a few of them grandparents.  The topic caught their eye because to a person they were actively involved in raising children.  As I usually do when working with a group I started off the evening with the question, “what do you want to talk about?”.  I gave each an index card and invited them to write down their question or concern.  (I do it this way because you’d be amazed how quiet a room can get when you ask them to share their problems!).  I was amazed when I gathered the cards and worked through them.  Clearly 75% of the people were parenting teenagers and looking for help in that challenge.

teenagers photo: TEENAGERS TEENAGERS.jpg

Though I spent some time talking about nurture and early child hood care, the bulk of time was spent in dealing with the day to day lives of teenagers and early adults (turning 18 doesn’t finish the active parenting phase of parents today).  Daily issues like use of technology, social media, friends, sexuality, drugs, jobs, school, career, privileges, etc all filled the 2 hour workshop.

I really appreciated the contribution of one parent who raised the idea of “negotiating” with our teens.  Actually his contribution was how much he enjoyed when his teen “negotiated” with him.  She had wanted a part time job and he was afraid her work life might adversely affect her school life.  She came to him with a plan that took into account the potential that a job might influence her grades.  Together they worked out a 90 day probationary period when careful attention would be paid to both school and work life and personal energy space.  Happily, it worked. But there was agreement that if it didn’t work…work life would have to go.

The upshot of it all was the genesis of an idea for the next workshop–“teaching our teens to negotiate with their parents”.  Sounds like a fruitful endeavour leading to a spirit of collaboration.  What do you think?