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Tips from The Parents' Coach » parenting of teens

Posts Tagged ‘parenting of teens’

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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