Is parenting teens a sport or a responsibility? According to ABC News, Tommy Jordan is getting quite a bit of recognition for his parenting teens skills by shooting bullets through his defiant daughter's laptop. If he was looking for spectators for this new game he invented, he has clearly been successful with 246,000 likes on YouTube. What a great sport!
Parenting Teens: Are we Missing the Point?
What's missing for me in all the sensationalism is the potential long-term effects of the bridge this father successfully built in his daughter's brain while playing with guns. In one 8-minute video, he set a memory in concrete. This is a memory that is not likely going away and less likely to be the endearing story told around this family's Thanksgiving dinner table in the years ahead.
Though I completely understand the frustration caused by a troubled teen and the stress it can create in a home, when parenting teens, our response is still our responsibility. It is our job to recognize when we need help parenting teens; unloading six bullets into a laptop is a pretty clear neon sign, “Help!”
Parenting Teens: Understanding the Teen Brain
Here is what we know to be true; the teen brain is not fully developed. There is a gap. They are not defective; they are just incomplete. It is our responsibility while parenting teens to bridge that gap with the tools our kids need to navigate life and become healthy adults. Building a safe, functional and secure bridge in the teen brain takes work. If we don't have the tools, skill or knowledge, doesn't it make sense to hire someone who does?
Parenting Teens: An Analogy
I once owned a home in Michigan where we had to cross a bridge in order to get safely across a dam to access our property. When we moved in, we had the bridge inspected and found the structure to be unsafe to cross. It was condemned due to neglect. Now, I admit, I am pretty handy but I know that building a bridge for a two-ton vehicle to traverse is out of my realm of expertise. So, I had three options:
1. I could ignore the condition of the bridge and hope it would “turn out just fine with age.”
2. I could get out my nail gun and radial arm saw and foolishly attempt to build the bridge myself.
3. Or, I could admit that I needed help and hire a professional to complete the job.
Who in their right mind would trust the first two options?! Both are a guarantee for disaster. The only smart and safe choice would be to recognize the magnitude of the problem and enlist a qualified, licensed professional to do the work. Someone with a skill set I could not learn overnight (or even in 3 years for that matter!)
We got four estimates and chose a company that had our best interests in mind that we knew we could trust. The job lasted almost three months and cost 175k. I stood by the fence daily, fascinated, as destruction became construction. I grew to appreciate the engineering degree that I didn't have, which was clearly required to achieve the desired goal. What could have been a nightmare was instead an expensive, well-planned and strategic solution with invaluable results.
Parenting Teens: Realizing when you need Help
Tommy Jordan needs parenting teens help. Almost as much help as his daughter does, maybe more. He needs the support, the tools, the guidance and the professionals to step in and help him get his daughter on solid ground.
Our bridge took 125 years to fall apart. It doesn't take that long for teens and it doesn't just happen overnight. In the Jordan family, there had been erosion and decay for years before the death of the laptop. Relational deterioration was obvious and extreme in this story. I'm going to guess that friends and family members saw this coming. None of us should be shocked by this multi-person collision; we should just be concerned and proactive with your own teens to avoid ending up in the same mess. Parenting teens can be risky business.
I'm writing the sequel – “Daughter's Teen Brain: Bridge over Troubled Water.”
Thoughts on this story about parenting teens?
Remember – safe teen dating does not happen by accident!
Lisa Jander – The Teen Whisperer
In the book Dater's Ed, Lisa Jander, the Teen-Whisperer, helps parents teach their teenagers to learn how to “date defensively, navigate safely and steer clear of unhealthy relationships.”