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Tips from The Parents' Coach » teenage boys

Archive for the ‘teenage boys’ Category

All members of the parenting team must be on the same page.

Posted on July 6th, 2010 by Jason  |  No Comments »

When I was running a youth program and actively working with teens, on their own, I recognized that one of my primary functions was to make sure that all adults that were influential in a teen’s life were on the same page when they worked with a teen. They all needed to understand what the treatment and social work goals were and to have a basic agreement on the steps towards those goals. I was like the quarterback of a team that, much of the time, didn’t have a clue that the others on the team even existed and certainly were not in regular communication with each other. The only thing they all had in common was contact with the teen and me.

Depending on the kid and the situation, I would be talking to parents (if they were in the picture at all), teachers and school officials, probation officers, social workers, judges, mental health professionals and the like. What normally was happening before I got involved was the teen “program-shopped” for the easiest ride rather than the best solution and would manipulate and play all these folks. When I was in the picture and doing this “quarterback” job, no matter who the teen turned to, he/she got the same advice and feedback and the chances of a more positive outcome greatly increased. This is because everyone was on the same page.

This same principle applies to parents. Those parents, who are not on the same page when it comes to having a clear method of how they are going to raise and parent their teens, will be doing their teens a disservice. Teens need to hear a constant message from their parents otherwise they “parent-shop” for the easier, softer way. “If I can’t get it from Dad, I’ll ask Mom,” is a skill that comes natural to teens. Mixed messages to teens will always be understood as the least onerous of the messages. Parents that are not on the same parenting skills page are very susceptible to this manipulation with potentially disastrous consequences to their ability to effectively guide their teens and to the parents’ relationship with each other. I can not tell you the number of parents I have worked with that were having severe marital problems, many times close to divorce because they were conflicted on how to parent their teens, learn how at Divorce Answers. Their teens were playing one parent against the other and the parents were blaming each other for exacerbating the continual problems with their teens behaviors and actions or inactions.

When I am coaching parents, my first concern is to make sure that they are functioning as a “parent team” and that that team has agreement on all things related to parenting their teens. They also need to have a working understanding that they will consult with each other when new situations arise where they do not have a clear understanding of the other parent’s thoughts. It is quite OK and, with the exception of emergency situations, to answer a teen’s request with, “your father/mother and I need to discuss this.” Consulting with your parenting partner before responding to your teen will prevent that after the fact response from your spouse of, “You let him do what?!!!!!” It will assure that your teen gets a consistent massage and it will build that strong parenting team his/her welfare depends on.

Even in those emergency situations, if you both have consistently discussed and agree on your approach to parenting of teens, you will already have a very good understanding of your partners feelings and will be able to, with confidence, act as the spokesperson for your parenting team.

If you and your co-parenting partner are having problems getting on the same page, for the sake of your kids, it is time to call me. I have a black belt in raising teens and have assisted many parents to, once again, become effective parents.

[Would you like to reprint this article? You can, as long as you publish the entire article and include this complete blurb with it: Life Coach Jason Wittman, MPS, teaches winning parenting techniques to parents of teens and coaches them as they guide their teens through that minefield called adolescence. If you’re ready to become a very effective parent, you can find more FREE tips and learn how you can benefit by his coaching at ]

Announcing The Parents of Teens Free, Monthly Tele-Roundtable

Posted on March 1st, 2010 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I have started a free, monthly Tele-Roundtable discussion for Parents of Teens and Young Adults. It meets on a free (other than a long distance call to Idaho), telephone conference line.

Please join me and other concerned parents like yourself the first TUESDAY of the month at 11:15 AM Pacific Coast Time for a free, lively hour of discussion, on the telephone, around topics of concern to parents of teens. I introduce a topic for about the first 10-15 minutes and we spend the rest of the hour discussing it or anything that is of pressing concern to the participants.

New Daytime Hours!

Interested? Here is how you can join the call: Click on this link which will take you to the were you can pre-register for the Roundtable. Complete the form and press enter and you will get a call-in number and a pin code that you will use when you call into the Roundtable call.

The call will last an hour. I will spend the first ten minutes or so introducing a topic or skill set that I believe would be of interest to parents of teens and then the rest of the call will be a moderated discussion on the topic or any other issue of importance. I will also do short laser coaching with participants concerning a current problem, when asked.

I am looking forward to your participation on the Roundtable.

Coach Jason

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I Think My Teen’s On Drugs, Now What?

Posted on December 8th, 2008 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I am often asked by parents whether their teens are addicts or alcoholics. Most of the time I find that they are usually jumping to the conclusion that their kids are one hour from a major overdose before gathering all the facts related to their teens use of mind altering substances. Whole books have been written to answer these concerns. What I am going to do here is to present the most important consideration that must be made by parents who is worried about their teens involvement is substance abuse and addiction.  It is important to note that I do not differentiate between legal and illegal ones when talking about mind altering substances. I, also, include all the other addictive behaviors, sex, gambling, compulsive eating and eating disorders, and compulsive work and working out activities in any evaluation of a teens substance use, abuse and/or addiction because they are just a different form of the same problem. I look at the core problem behind all abusive and addicted behavior is low or no self-esteem and self-worth which develops into the habit of thinking and acting like a loser. The actual addictive behaviors are just symptoms of that core problem. With this in mind, let’s explore my thoughts on what parents need to do to get a handle on their teens substance abuse problems.

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Shaming and Guilting Our Teens: Why it Does Not Work and What is the Real Problem

Posted on August 23rd, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I recently coached the mother of a teenage son and daughter. She was having many problems with the son, which got her to coach with me. As we got into her story, I found that she had some older children who continued to have problems as young adults. Se was very afraid that her youngest one was now going to end up like her other kids. As she told me of her efforts to motivate her family to do better and become successful in their lives, it became clear that her prime parental motivating tool was to resort to creating guilt and shame in them. This came in two forms. The first was the "look what you are putting me through" variety. "I hurt so much when I see you [wasting your live…getting in so much trouble…using so much drugs….]" The second form is "If you don’t change you are going to end up [just like your father that worthless bum…in jail again…washing dishes for the rest of your life….]" There are others, though these are the main ones.

The problem with this approach is that teenagers in general, and teenage boys in particular, already live in a world of shame and guilt. They are generating more than they can handle on their own without any assistance from their parents. Adolescent years is all about experimenting, failing and goofing up, learning from those mistakes and growing up in the process. That is a painful process. They are constantly aware of and fearful how, they look to others and who they are being judged by others. They are constantly beating themselves up over their short comings. They painfully know and have much guild and shame when their actions or inactions end up creating problems for others, especially their parents. This is painfully frustrating to them when they are aware of what they are doing as they are doing it and do not have the inner tools to stop the destruction and havoc they are causing. The last thing they need to hear is a parent saying, "Do you know what you are putting me through?" That just adds to their frustration without offering guidance and support.

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Freely Giving Praise

Posted on July 27th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I have noticed when I begin a coaching relationship with new parents that most of their interactions with their teens are negative in content. They are about correcting this behavior, criticizing that bit of excessiveness, warning that if they don’t do better they will end up like their older brother, bum of a father, etc., and so on.

Teenage years, growing through adolescence and onto adulthood, are all about learning. Most learning lessons come from doing things, making mistakes and eventually learning what works. Teens are continually and naturally making mistakes. As a result, they continually have very negative judgmental feelings about themselves. They are always feeling too small, to big, not strong enough, not good looking enough, stupid, too smart and on and on. The last thing they need is for their parents to confirm what they already falsely believe to be true about themselves. I say falsely because most of those beliefs are developed by comparing their insides (how they feel about themselves, to their peers or their celebrity idols outsides (how those people look and act and appear to feel). They always lose those comparisons.

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The Boy Code and The Power of Just Hanging Out to Overcome It

Posted on July 25th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

The Boy Code is a pervasive, unwritten code that is so ingrained in our culture that most people, unless they are aware of it, enforce it through their responses and comments to boys from the day they are born. After working with male teens for many years, I intuitively knew about the boy code and what to do in raising kids to counter it. I am forever indebted, though, to Dr. William Pollack for his research on this subject and his great book about raising boys called, " Real Boys Workbook ." His books both validated my experience and work and gave me a great text and reference guidebook to offer to the parents I coach. Much of the theory I am presenting here is drawn from him. If every parent who is raising sons would read this early on, their boys would have a far easier time as teens. In it he discusses how the Boy Code influences everything a teen does, how they make decisions and choices, who they date and what feelings they can and can not express to others. That is just the first chapter; the rest is a fantastic guide for understanding and raising boys.

The Boy Code tells boys and teens (and unfortunately, even grown men) that they must always appear strong by never giving in or showing signs of weakness, being in control of all situations and especially their emotions (except for anger and violence), never admitting to defeat or being wrong, always being macho even when they falling apart inside, being independent by "being a man!" and so on. I am sure by now you get the point. The bottom line is that any outward appearance or utterance that might possibly be considered by others as "shameful" is to be avoided. This means that crying when hurt is a no, no. Hanging around mother or girls, except on dates, is to be avoided for fear of being labeled a sissy or the other "f" word, faggot. This is, also why, by the time they become teens, they answer our requests for a conversation about how they are and feel with grunts or two word answers, "I’m O.K.," even when it is obvious that they are not.

Besides the obvious, consequences of the Boy Code on teens includes:

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Parenting Teenagers is Like Fighting a Gorilla War

Posted on July 12th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

When I was in Viet Nam, I realized that gorilla wars were very different from the ones in the movies. There were no fronts, no back lines and the territory was very peaceful just like any town in the U.S., until it wasn’t. It could go from tranquillity and boredom to total chaos in seconds. I am not suggesting that parenting is like fighting a war. To the contrary, if you follow my parenting advice, it will be one of collaboration with zero supremacy battles. It is that just like in gorilla wars, parenting teens often is quite boring with little to do most of the time, until it is not. Parenting then becomes a non-stop, intense period of coaching, teaching, sorting through high drama and lots of emotion, consoling and cheer-leading. Did I leave anything out?

It is the boring – nothing is happening – what am I doing here? – part of parenting teens to which I am going to address my comments. In the last blog, I talked about how parents need to understand that they are in this parenting game until their teens are adults. Even then, they are still on call until they can no longer take the calls and expire. I call it "Parenting On Demand." That is still true and here is the other part of parenting.

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Perserverence and Endurance are the Keys to Winning The Parents Game

Posted on July 8th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I recently read a very short yet very important book , "The Dip" by Seth Goden. Although it is written mainly for business people, the concept totally applies to parenting of teenagers. Seth postulates that in most enterprises there is a period of time before winning or success happens when it seems like nothing is happening and that future effort to achieve success would be in vain. He labels that period, "the dip." He contrasts that with other similar feeling situations, "The Cliff," where the enterprise is about to crash and burn and "The Cul-de-Sac," a dead-end situation that no additional effort will ever produce results. He explains that in the latter two conditions, quitting is the appropriate action to take because it frees people to then go and find a winnable game to play. In contrast, for truly winnable games in business and life, there is a period where we do the footwork and pay the dues until success and winning happens. That period can be lengthy.

Since all three of the situations feel the same when we are in them, the skill comes in being able to determine which is which. When it is determined that we are truly in a Dip, that’s when perseverance and endurance becomes the critical skills to prevent quitting before the miracle. He quotes a famous marathon runner who sets in his mind the conditions that must happen before he will quit a race. The runner does this because otherwise by the 23rd mile, all the regularly occurring things like thirst, fatigue, muscle aches and the like will be used by his mind to manufacture a plausible reason to quit. Using that as an example, the author says that conditions where quitting ought to be the option of choice need to be set before the endeavour starts. If and when it is time to quit, the quit need to be premeditated and planned out. Quitting should never happen at times of high emotion because rational courses of action are never made well at those times.

Although Mr. Godin did not have parenting of teenagers in mind, his theory totally applies to this very serious enterprise or game, as I like to call it, of raising teenagers.

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When do they stop being teens?

Posted on June 7th, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

I am regularly asked by parents of teens to give them an estimate of when their kids will brow out of being teenagers and become responsible adults. The basic question is" When is this over?" The answer is not very clear these days. It is a bad news, good news and it depends, kind of answer. I am convinced by my observing this process throughout my many years and from my observing how fast this process can happen in other cultures, that a teen’s environment plays a very important role in determining just how fast this process happens.

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The Two “Musts” of Parenting

Posted on June 2nd, 2007 by Jason Wittman  |  No Comments »

There are only two "musts" when parenting teens. I say "musts" because they provide the foundation for everything else. These two principles build on each other and will greatly influence the value structure that your teen will develop and will let them know you are a reliable source of guidance.

The first principle is that when asked, either directly or indirectly, always label irresponsibility as irresponsibility. If you think that what your teen has done is not in his or the world he lives in’s best interests, he needs you to tell him what you think.

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