Advice for Parenting Teenagers by Jason Wittman

Hi, I'm Jason Wittman. I'm here on behalf of Online Parent Support, and today I'm going to be showing you and discussing some real world ways that you can work with your older teenagers and young adult kids. My background includes a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Cornell University, being an NLP practitioner, and hypnotherapist. And I've been running youth programs and drug rehab programs for about the last thirty five years.

Permission Parenting: Tips for Parents of Teens

Lets start with talking about permission parenting. Permission parenting to me is parents having to make a shift in the way the parent their older teens. In the beginning parents have to teach their kids everything from toilet training to how to do everything and then about in thirteen years old, anyone with a teenager can tell you about that time the hands go on the hips, they look up and say, why? That's the signal that about that point they are starting to transition towards being a person of their own. They question everything and they want a lot of independence. And I use the term permission parenting because that is a whole different way of parenting. At about thirteen kids start transitioning from accepting everything the parents say on blind faith to starting to be independent and questioning everything. And about that point parents also have to transition and have to go from being the controller of their kids to being parent by permission; hence the term permission parenting. And what that means is actually what the term says, from that point on parents have to ask in one form or another, have to ask to be parents. Sometimes when I am talking about permission parenting, people confuse this with permissive parenting. These are two very, very different things. Permission parenting is parenting prior permission asking for the permission to give advice. Permissive parenting is letting your kids get away with murder. That is not what this is at all.

Permission parenting is a whole new way of parenting older teenagers and young adults. What permission parenting is is as the name suggests, it is asking permission before actually giving advice or giving instructions. It is allowing teenagers to make mistakes because all of teenage years is about learning how to live on their own, making mistakes and then learning new ways. So, permission parenting is allowing your teenagers to start making some mistakes and when they are ready for some instruction, they ask. At that point we as parents start doing what we know best, which is giving them some further instruction. This shift happens where before we would give the instruction just off the top of our heads and they would accept it. Now if we try to pull that maneuver, kids start saying but I rather do it myself, or why are you saying this? And what we really need to do is wait for them to ask, if they don't ask, then we are intruding on their space and at this point in their life they need that space.

How Parents Can Assist Their Teenagers

There are two kinds of assistance that parents can give their teens. First one is instructional assistance, the second on is inner mind or emotional assistance. And they take slightly different ways of delivering. Of course both of these types of assistance, we are not going to do as parents until we are invited to do it. The first the instructional type is the have to do it stuff and we are used to telling our kids everything. So, the way the shift happens is we are going to let them do the things they need to do, especially when we start to tell them and they start to say I rather do it myself mom. At that point we walk away, we say if you need me I will be in the kitchen, if you run into a problem just ask me, I am available; we walk away and let them do it. When asked we provide that instruction. The only covenant to this, the only place where I actually do instruction to begin with, is when it comes to things where they might get themselves in trouble or in harms way; like learning how to drive a car, operating a piece of property. With that I tell them right off the bat, I am going to show you how to do it, I am going to demonstrate it, I am going to let you do it and demonstrate to me that you can do it well and then I am going to walk away and let you do it. And at that point I am going to walk away and let him do it. With motional and inner feeling stuff, with that once again let them have their feelings, let them sit there and do what they need to do.

At the same time letting them know that whenever they would like to discuss it, we are here to discuss it with them. And when they do start to discuss their feelings, a very, very critical thing at this point is to let them finish talking about, let them finish their sentence. I know one of my problems with my son was that I would jump on his lines and what happens when you jump on a teenager's lines meaning you are already giving them an answer before they are finished with a question, even if you know where their question is going to go is that they feel that you aren't listening to them. And at that point they shut up, leave and you just lost your opportunity to some very good parenting. So, the deal here is you shut up, they talk. When they are finished talking, you stay quiet for long enough so that it seems even if you have an answer, it seems like you have been pondering their question and then you either give an answer or even better ask a question so they can come up with their own answer and that way they will start to be able to come up with their own answers and then you have been a really, really good parent.

Parenting Manifesto: Tips for Parents of Teens

My parenting manifesto is the overall idea of how one needs to approach the idea of parenting. When two people or even when one person decides to have a kid, if through adoption or naturally, I believe they are making a covenant an nonviolent covenant with God that says, I will be this kid's parent forever until I am no longer needed. When I use to work with street kids, I use to think that when a kid came up to me it was like God tapped me on the shoulder and said you are my designated hitter and you have that role until you have done all you can do and I find somebody else to play that role.

Well, with parenting, there is nobody else, you are it and you are it for the duration. Now, there are times when the parenting like the things that your kids need might be a little bit more than you can actually provide. At those time, it is quiet alright to find out sources and outside people to assist. There might be times if your kid really messes up, that they grow up to some sort of detention facility or rehab facility or hopefully at time, your kid is going to go off to school or be in a job or something like that. Even at those times when your role as a parent isn't really needed as much as it was earlier in their life, you are still the parent and when you are called upon being a parent, you still have that obligation between you and God and your kid to fulfill that role.

Ideals Versus Reality: Tips for Parenting Teens

I find that when I am working with parents that sometimes their kids, especially their older teens, start doing things that they either don't like or can't approve or religiously doesn't work for them. Whether they find out that their kids are gay or their kids want to go into a profession that they don't particularly care for or whatever it is. With this idea that you have, this covenant that keeps you being the parent no matter what. That means no matter what, they are still your kids, they still need your assistance and as they get to be older teens and into twenties, what you think doesn't really matter too much after a while. So, you need to be the best parent that you could be to continue to guide them as best as you can. But at the same time, know that as they get older they are going to have start making some of their own choices. Your role is their coach and their parent is still there when called apart.

Danger of Using Guilt Tactics: Parenting Tips

I find that parents a lot of times use guilt and shame as a way of feeble attempt to motivate their kids to do better. And for a lot of reasons that doesn't work. The biggest reason is that most teenagers just by the fact that their teenagers and walking through things have lots of their own self induced guilt and shame. They know when they are screwing up. They know when they didn't have good grades. They know when they haven't came home on time and when they have been doing stuff that parents might not approve. And for them to then come home and hear from their parents all sorts of stuff about this, just makes them feel worse which keeps the problem going on. There are a couple of ways that parents do this guilty and shaming. The worst offender is your behavior is hurting me so much, your behavior is an embarrassment to our family, your behavior is, well you got the idea. (Why is the tactic such a bad idea? What is guilt and shaming? What could that lead to?) Well, the problem with guilt, when kids have a lot of guilt and shame, is they end up doing things to cover for them. I have one of my kids who use to quit jobs just by walking out of them and not giving notice and all of that and he had so much shame about that that he didn't even go and pick up his last check. They almost had to force it on him and then because he didn't clean it up the next job he went to, he did it all over again. All the times kids who are full of guilt and shame start getting into very addictive behaviors or they drop out of school.

But the real thing that I want to mention here is to talk about the fact that parents do this guilt and shaming or throwing guilt upon their kid for the wrong reasons. They are doing to motivate, but really the reason they are doing it is because they haven't separated their own feelings about the process of parenting and what is going on and how it is affecting them from the actual. How do I become an affective parent to my kid? I can remember years ago when I had a foster kid who was just being an idiot. He just wasn't doing things in the way of it working and I really, really, really felt like getting a baseball bat, beating his head in. But that is so not much my character that I shocked and just saying wait a minute, stop here, let's go and keep your feelings out of this and start concentrating on working with the kid's feelings and motivating them in a way that will work for him.

Freely Giving Praise: Tips for Parents of Teens

Let's talk about freely giving praise to our teens. With lots of parent I work with, when we start working and start coaching, the problem is they most of what they do with their teens is beat them up stuff. They are constantly criticizing, they are constantly giving them negative feed back, they are telling them what is wrong. And that doesn't really work very well, because kids already know what is wrong, they already beat themselves up for everything that is going on. For parents to do this, just gets them to feel worse and unfortunately a lot of parents don't know anything else to do, so they say give their corrections and their feed back more often and louder and they get more of a saying.

There is an old saying that says; if you always did what you always do, you always get what you always got. If you want something different you have got to do something different. So this is what you do different; what you do different is you start giving praise. They already know they messed up, so you really don't need to go over that territory, just start giving praise. The way that you do this is in the form of saying I respect you for.... An example of giving praise rather than beating the kid up would be, kid comes home with a report card, a lot of D's on it. He already knows he got D's, he doesn't need to be told that but you happen to notice that he had perfect attendance, so instead of dealing with the D's, you say something like this, "I really respect." And we use respect rather than being proud of because that way we are talking about what he is doing rather than the way I as a parent feel. I really respect that you were in attendance, had perfect attendance, now let's work together on seeing if we can do the things, the D is just say you needed some extra work here, if you really would like to do that I am here with you to really do better in your work. That is real parenting.

How to Raise Teenage Boys

Let's talk about the boy code and what we can do to make sure that we get to our teenage boys. Now the boy code starts very, very early in life. What it really is is our whole society's idea that male should only express feelings of happiness, joy, excitement, all the up stuff and that anything that has to do with sadness or hurt or any of that stuff, what not to be said, this is the manchisile idea. It actually turns out that even early childhood and in the crib, that parents have been observed with their girls, they mimic all their girls actions whether when the girl frowns, they frown, when the girls smile, they smile. With boys, they only mimic the boys smiling stuff. So even right from the crib, boys are taught that you don't talk about feelings that hurt type feelings and that is really disasterist when it comes to teenagers because, that is why teenage boys, you say how is it going? Even if they are crying inside, they say okay and it is the end of that. So it takes real special techniques to get to working with boys and to getting them to express their feelings.

Okay, so we have discussed what the boy code is, now what do you do about it? You have this teenager who is sitting there, you know because you know when you can read your teenager, you know that they are full of feelings and they are not expressing it. Well, it is very simple, you need to hang out with them, you have to invest time. Just sitting down at the table, which is actually a good idea; my mother had a rule that said, we all will eat together every single day. But just sitting down at the table and eating is not good enough to get boys to get to their feelings, you need to spend at least three hours minimum time just hanging out with your son and preferably if there are two parents involved, this is one parent with the kid at a time. Because the idea here is that you are going to do something preferably not something like going to a movie but something where there is lots of time just to be quiet and let the kid get the courage to finally get his thoughts out.

Two Musts of Parenting Teenagers

The two musts of parenting are; always to label irresponsibility as irresponsibility and going hand in hand with that, always being a good role model for our kids. Now, always labeling irresponsibility as irresponsibility is really, really important. Kids will ask parents questions that they know the answer to. And the main reason they ask those questions is because they want to test to see if their parents are going to give them responsible answers. If the parents give an answer that isn't responsible, then the kid can't really trust that asking a question or presenting a scenario where they don't know the answer, then they trust that they are going to get a straight answer from their parents.

Now, the way to always give good responsible answers comes in either two forms; either you can actually label it period, that is just not the way to do it. Or as I used to do when I worked with street kids and they tell me about the latest slick hist they did from some store is make some off hand comment like, I am sure I still have my jail pass so I can visit you the next time you are not quiet so slick. Now, the second thing that comes, goes right along with this is always acting responsibly and acting as a good role model for your kid. The must is always being a good role model for your teens. Now, do as I say and not as I do, doesn't work anything and it certainly doesn't work with your teens. It always have to be walking the walk as well as talking the talk. And teens look at things in black and white, there are no gray's. So, sitting by and watching TV, watching a football game and knocking down a six pack of beer, even though you are not going to drive for the rest of the night, a teen sees you do that and figures knocking down a six pack of beer is fine only they are going to do it while they are driving. You smoking a joint socially at a cocktail party, teens will then extrapolate into smoking joints is good, even during school. So it is real important that you step back sort of look at yourself in what you are doing from up above and say is this in black and white what I want my teen to be doing? If it is not, then don't do it. If my father could choke down liver every Wednesday night while we were growing up so we wouldn't grow up with a liver bias. You can also obstane from your goodies for the sake of your kids.