How to Get the Most Out of Your Teen

How to Get the Most Out of Your Teen

I have worked with teenagers now for over a decade. In that time, there have been significant changes in environment, social interaction, and educational expectations, but one thing has remained. Teenagers generally don’t feel they can talk to their parents. I’m coming from a place where I sit in groups with teenagers who are strangers to me and within 30 minutes of talking to them can get them to share who the most important person in their life is and why. I’m writing this not as the parent of a teen but as someone who works with teens, so this is also for any youth worker that wants their conversation to get better. I’m hopeful that this helps you, and I’m also hopeful it helps me as I start to create an environment for conversation with my elementary school kids that will carry into their teen years – because we all know if I wait, it’ll only get harder. In fact, today I was sitting in a group that has been meeting sporadically for about 12 weeks. One of the students brought up the difficulty she is having talking to her dad. There are lots of things involved with this situation, but I believe if her dad read these tips, he could learn so much more about his own daughter. With that in mind here are the tips I have found to be helpful, and I hope you can apply to your relationship with your teen as well.   Talk less. As a parent, it is difficult not to fill the silence. Resist this urge. In our training for group...
Merry Christmas & Goodbye 2015!

Merry Christmas & Goodbye 2015!

Merry Christmas from Teen Lifeline! We hope that you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. Once again, thank you for your continued support and encouragement. 2015 was our biggest year yet, and we are excited to continue to help teenagers live life better!     Did you miss our Christmas Card? If you would like to partner with us as we equip, encourage and empower teenagers to live life better, you can give to our End of Year Campaign and keep up with our goal...
A Collective Community Christmas

A Collective Community Christmas

It’s Christmas season, and I must admit that I am a huge Christmas movie fan. I love them all – the classics, the comedies, the cheesy made-for-tv specials. But one of my very favorites is the Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas. It is a great movie if you are looking for a laugh, but more than that, there is a quote from the Grinch that perfectly negates a common misconception about Christmas. “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas…means a little bit more.” It is so easy to get caught up in the presents, holiday treats, Christmas lights and fun that comes along with this time of year, but that is not what Christmas is about. The Collective Community Christmas Party that happened this week for our teenaged parents was a true Christmas miracle, and one that I am proud to brag about. Each holiday season, Teen Lifeline holds a Christmas party for the teenaged parents that we work with throughout the year. They bring their families for dinner, Santa pictures and a chance to pick out Christmas presents for their kids. I love the hugs and gratitude we receive after this night. The smiles on their faces when they tell me that their kids will have presents on Christmas because of us. But it isn’t just because of us. There are too many people who help make this night, those presents, this experience a reality for teen parents. To show the collective efforts that go into this night, I would like to...
7 Kids Isn’t For You

7 Kids Isn’t For You

Occasionally, I am privileged to speak to a group of teenaged parents. I appreciate these opportunities because I can’t imagine being a high school student and a parent. Just being a parent is hard enough. When introducing myself, one of the things I choose to do is to tell the group that my wife and I have 4 kids at our house. I then show a picture of 7 kids (see below) and explain that for the time being we have 3 extra kids living with us. Who they are and why is for another time. I usually say something to the effect of, “I don’t recommend having 7 kids. It isn’t for everyone.” And I mean it. What inevitably happens when I show 7 kids on the screen as I am teaching a class on internet and social media is that some assumptions are made. I do not want one of these assumptions to be that we have it all together. Because often, we don’t.   So what do I want them to hear? My hope is that when I say, “7 kids isn’t for everyone,” people understand that I am trying to change their perspective in a positive way. First of all, we have to be careful comparing what we see of others to what we know to be true about ourselves. If we aren’t careful, we can cripple ourselves because we look around and assume those doing hard things have it figured out and why can’t we. The reality is, most times they have’t figured out any more then we have, and they are probably looking at you...
What is Your One Word?

What is Your One Word?

I came across this idea from a book called One Word That Will Change Your Life. It was a new concept to me but has made an impact on me this year – so much so that I wanted to share the idea with you. Basically, it is related to the sense that we all have a desire to set resolutions or goals, but all to often, we have a hard time following through. So to really get something done, maybe we just need to pick one work for a period and let that word help us stay focused enough to accomplish what is in front of us. In 2015, that word for me has been “Finish”. This has kept me focused quite a bit this year. In the past, I have struggled to finish. I like starting things but following through on them is difficult for me for a few reasons. Sometimes the task gets hard, and I find something easier to do. Other times, I run into a road block (like not knowing what to do next), and I forget about what I was working on. It could even be that I get bored and want to find something new and exciting to work on. The truth is that finishing something carries a lot of weight in accomplishing what I have set out to do. For Teen Lifeline, that means I want to make a difference for teenagers. I want to add value to them so that they can be the best they can be. I also read about this concept in John Maxwell’s latest book, Intentional Living: Choosing a...
Seeing is Believing…Think Different

Seeing is Believing…Think Different

So earlier this month, I had an amazing opportunity to go to the BMW Ultimate Driving Experience. It was just that – an amazing driving experience. Part of the event was that they (of course) have a hashtag so people can follow on social media. #DrivingIsBelieving was their hashtag and man is it ever! Getting a chance to drive an x4 on an autocross track and test drive models from the 228i to the 750Li was incredible, but it also got me thinking… This thinking really started with a book I just finished by Kelly McGonigal called The Upside of Stress: Why Stress is Good For You and How to Get Good At It. It was amazing and I highly recommend it, I was even able to take one of the principals she talked about and share it with some teen-aged parents we are working with. Here is the idea, if we choose to see stress as positive (because we will always have stress in our life), it literally changes the responses from our bodies and minds. For example, when we get to the end of a day and feel tired (and who doesn’t), we have a choice. Until hearing this, I simply believed I was just always tired and drained. But what Kelly suggested is that being tired indicates you have expended all of the energy you have to accomplish the tasks you needed to today. This is HUGE! If I see being tired as evidence I have worked hard and accomplished much, it changes everything.   So, I have started looking for other things that this can apply...