Today’s food for thought is on teens, listening, and mentoring:
During the majority of my teens, I listened to my parents better than most; I don’t think I gave them much trouble (and I think my parents would agree). The last year of my teens and early 20s were a different story. While I was away at college and thus not home to actively push back, plus general sass wasn’t so much my style, I definitely went through a period of thinking I knew a lot more than they did.
I kind of have to laugh — I wonder if it’s hardwired into us to not want to listen to our parents. Even today, my mom can give me advice (and the vast majority of the time it’s quite useful and I take it) — and yet 95% of the time I have an initial knee-jerk reaction of “No!”. I’m not totally sure why. I’m solidly into adulthood and have learned (and continue to be reminded) that my parents know a whole lot actually, and have for quite some years. And most of their suggestions are incredibly good.
With a teen myself these days (and seeing her cohort), advice sometimes seems to be better absorbed when it’s from someone outside of the personal parental role. Like an “I’m not your mom (or dad)” person, yet whose views and advice would (secretly) be mom/dad approved.
When I look back over the years I wasn’t into listening to my parents, I’m appreciative of the folks who filled the non-parental mentor role, and who I actually listened to. I can see that those folks (whether they or I knew it or not) played a critical role in helping me straighten out all of the stuff going on in my head and heart. I also see that any of us can have the opportunity to be such a mentor to a kid feeling his/her way into adulthood — probably the biggest piece of it is to simply listen to them. (I wonder how much angst stems from feeling like we’re not being heard and/or what we think doesn’t matter.)
Today, how can you be the person you needed in your teens? Take a look around: what teen can you truly listen to?