That job of preparing a human being to eventually go out into the world all on their own is, at the core, the job of a parent. So it’s not a wonder that parents are always (ok let’s be real – usually) looking for the best advice to pass along on their teens. Some of it is great advice right? But what about the other times when your responses are influenced by the desire to not look uninformed or maybe just uneducated on the subject at hand. How would you do on the game show “Are you smarter than your teenager?”
Parents need to get comfortable with saying “I don’t know” and, instead, make it an opportunity to learn and problem-solve with your teen.
When you take a moment to think it becomes obvious that there is no way a parent has all the answers. You are still learning a ton along the journey of parenty! And it’s ok to be transparent with them about the fact that you don’t know everything. If you know the answer you’ll share it, if you don’t it’s best to keep your credibility intact with a simple “I don’t know” or “let’s go figure that out together” response.
How often have we, when we were teenagers, figured out when a parent was just full of… about something? We wonder “why didn’t they just NOT say anything” and our confidence in anything they have to say after this realization is damaged. DON’T do that to yourself or your relationship with your kids. It’s ok to say “I don’t know”
Now when you don’t know, have absolutely no clue, or idea what the answer to a question might be you have a HUGE teaching opportunity. Remember that whole bit about sending them out into the world all on their own? Well they are still going to have questions, just like you and i do, every day. One of the greatest lessons you can teach a teen is HOW TO FIND KNOWLEDGE.
We know there are 7 learning styles; Visual (seeing), Auditory (hearing), Verbal (talking, speaking, repeating), Physical (Kinesthetic, doing, physical), Logical (using math, logic, reasoning to solve problems), Social (group learning), Solitary (learning on one’s own)
An interesting key to all of these is the influence of another source, a book, a person, or an experience. Learning is best done when it’s building upon the discoveries of others – otherwise we’d all be recreating the wheel all the time.
People, or more specifically experts, are more available now than they have ever before been. In my opinion one of the best skills you can encourage your teen to develop is the willingness to talk to people. After all, you wouldn’t typically seek out a brain surgeon for a relationship advice, right?
With this goal of learning to learn in mind I’ve identified 5 ways you can learn with your teen:
Don’t ever settle for ‘Good Enough’
I have been reading a lot of teen parenting books lately, many of which suggest that raising a teen is hard enough, so a parent should just settle for a ‘good enough’ teenager. I absolutely disagree with this suggestion. No teen should be ‘good enough’, as every single one is born with his/her own talent and is powerful in his/her own right. The way you parent, the time you take, the short moments you’re willing to invest in the discovery of an answer will speak volumes to your teen about their value to you. Be the most excellent, ‘master-class’ you that you can be!
Do something Scary!
Go find something scary, something most people don’t have the courage to do, and DO IT! Take your teen with you, show them that it is possible to overcome fear and learn from the experience. In reality, many things were impossible until someone did them. Lead and teach by example, a simple series of moments can completely change not only your life but the life of your teen.
Embrace being Different
Mom always said this to me, “I don’t care if you are worse than others, just be different!” It took me years to realize that if you never follow the crowd, you can’t be worse by default. You ARE different, because there is only one you. By being a leader of one – by being and embracing WHO YOU ARE – you set your own course.
All Leaders are Readers!
Best quote by Harry S. Truman, “Not all readers become leaders, but all leaders must be readers.” I know that most teens today are overwhelmed with school reading, technology, and visual information overload. However, there’s a simple truth – I have yet to meet a successful business person (as in truly successful, with real net profit in his/her business!) – who doesn’t read.
Live Your OWN Life!
From the late Steve Jobs, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” Building on being different this is a perfect ending to any advice you get from different people: no matter how wise they are, it still is up to you to find your true calling. Don’t please anyone before you please yourself, don’t follow someone else’s career path; instead, take your time and figure out your strengths, your passions, and your crazy inspirations. It might take awhile, but it will be worth it!!! And if you want to help your teen to find their Passions, read more