Build A Bridge and Start the Discussion

Hey, dad, when you really think about it, sometimes it pays dividends to be downright honest with your teenager. It’s OK to admit that you’re just as human as they are. You have your foibles and faults, too. You don’t always finish what you start, pick up after yourself or listen carefully.

Here are a few observations that we have put together that might serve as discussion starters for you and your teenager or for the whole family. Some of these are great levelers. In other words, they put you and your teenager on equal footing when it involves certain aspects of life. It’s not always comfortable being on equal footing with your teenage offspring because you have to look at each other straight in the eye and face some facts head on. But it’s a good start into adulthood.

We think several of these will apply to you and your teen. They certainly applied to us.

For example, everybody breaks the speed limit sometimes. With that in mind, we’re all occasional lawbreakers.

The other person is just as nervous as you are.

Always brake for brick walls. (You can’t argue with that bit of practicality.)

In the case of some people, wearing a cross on a chain around their neck is as far as their religious precepts take them.

Most of us are bumbling idiots when it comes to saying, “I love you.”

As objective as teachers are in grading their students, there are few who forget the little extras you do. The same is true with a good boss.

Contrary to what you may believe, the less you have, the greater the chance that more people will like you for who you are.

Likewise, contrary to what you probably think, hardly anyone notices when you goof up.

This may astound you, but if a poll were taken, 99 out of 100 people probably think you’re OK.

There’s a part of your teachers, parents or bosses (perhaps even police and politicians) that think that some of the rules are just as dumb as you think they are.

An obnoxious person needs a hug most of all.

You’d be amazed if you knew who was looking at you in silent admiration.

As you get older, you’ll be able to tell the difference between baloney and food for thought. There’s a lot of one—and a tremendous lack of the other.

When your personal faith is shaken, think about the miraculous precision and timing of birth. Something that wonderfully awesome just can’t be an accident. It really doesn’t matter what you believe or if you believe. It just seems hard to imagine that there isn’t a power beyond us.

Hopefully one or two of these observations will help start a conversation between you and your teen that will lead to meaningful dialogue and beginning to see each other in a new light.


By dads2dads

Brandon’s Party

When Brandon got invited to a party at the end of football season, he knew he wanted to go. It sounded like a blast–a big party at a remote cabin in the woods to celebrate the season.

One day Brandon heard a couple of guys talking about bringing drugs to the party. Brandon’s decision had just become a bit more complicated. He’d always had a close relationship with his dad so he brought it up one night after dinner.

“I’m worried that there could be trouble, and I could lose my scholarship for next year,” Brian told his dad.

“What options do you have?” his dad asked.

“Well, I could go to the party and try to steer clear of any trouble that might come up. Or I could just skip it and get a lot of flak from my team.”

“What else?” his dad prodded.

“That’s pretty much it,” said Brandon.

“How about telling the student who is throwing the party what you heard?”

“Yeah, I guess. I just don’t want to be a wimp.”

“And you think your teammates will think you’re a wimp?”

“Yeah, if I don’t go or if I make a big deal about it. I mean, I don’t even know if it’s true about the drugs. I just heard a couple of guys talking.”

“Well, what if it is true?” his dad persisted.

“Then I guess I could always leave,” Brandon responded.

“Well it’s possible you’ll be found guilty by presence or by association.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, if you’re there and something bad happens or somebody reports the drugs, you’ll share guilt just by being there. Even if you leave, you were there with the whole team and others saw you there.

“Thanks for cheering me up, dad,” Brandon said dryly. “So you’re saying I shouldn’t go because of what might happen.”

“I’m saying you need to think of all your options and the consequences of what you decide,” his dad returned.

Teenagers often make decisions alone. Or they rely on friends for advice. But often they need additional help. That is why we always say, “keep the communication open.” Look for resources that can help your teenager. Hook your teen up with an outside expert—a relative, pastor, counselor or someone else who can provide independent, reliable advice and to whom your teenager will listen.

Once your teen makes a decision, help him or her reflect on the options. Is it a good decision? Does it get your child where he or she wants to be now and in the future? What are the consequences of each option? Have all the choices and possible pitfalls been assessed?

Sometimes it can help to explore hypothetical situations with your teen before the real deal arises so that when there are difficult decisions to make, the skills are already in place for assessing the options and doing the right thing. We didn’t say the fun thing … but the right thing.


By dads2dads