A few months ago I took a course on parenting teenagers. God surely reserves a special place in heaven for mothers and fathers who successfully navigate the dangerous shoals of their children’s years 13 to 18.

One of the favoured techniques of this course was planning your response to your teen’s behaviour, rather than lashing out emotionally. On paper (or in the in-class video), it sounds great. Here’s an example:

Parent attempts to enter the family room, which resembles the site of a particularly nasty explosion. Clothing, books, dirty dishes and bits of food cling to every surface.

According to the school of enlightened parenting, one should say:
“Johnny, when I see a big mess in this family room, I feel overwhelmed because it’s hard to walk in here, and I can’t find the TV.”

In the video, the teen hops off the sofa and says: “Gee, Mom, I’m so sorry. Let me clean it up right now. Would you like me to make you a cup of tea?”

Well, in my house it works a little differently. First off, I’d have to bite my tongue to not add a phrase to my initial thoughtful statement, such as “How can you be such slobs?”

Oh, and if my kid jumped off the couch that quickly, I’d probably collapse.

Still, I’m giving this communication style a whirl. I’ll keep you posted.

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Writer, speaker, podcaster, communications and social media consultant, workshop leader and part-time university instructor. As a consultant, I emphasize the importance of storytelling and relationship-building, and enjoy helping people understand how today’s technology, combined with tried-and-true tactics, can help them communicate better with employees, customers and prospects.

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