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Seven Critical Questions for Teens: Question #7

May 16, 2012

The final critical question for teens from Jeffrey Leiken (http://leiken.com/) is simple:  When are you going to start making these decisions to move forward?  Seems simple, but it can be quite complicated.  Teens, if you have not noticed, do not have the same sense of time as we adults have.  A “long time” for a teen could be all the way to next weekend.  The “future” might include the next couple of months.  On the other hand, teens often delay dealing with serious decisions.  Decisions around sex, drugs, alcohol and future plans are easier to deal with tomorrow or next week or never.  “Let’s just see what happens” or “how it plays out” are common phrases from teens when talking about serious decisions.

As adults, we intuitively know the danger of not making important decisions.  When we delay long enough, the decision gets made for us and not usually with the best outcomes.  Kinda like deciding about sex in the back seat of a car or making a decision about drinking while you are at the party.  Neither scenario produces thoughtful choices.

So, Dads where do you fit in?  Simple, open a continuous dialogue about important topics with your teen.  These discussions occur over time and are built on a foundation of trust.  These discussions are most productive when they are done in a setting that is not related to a crisis.  Having the “sex talk” after you learn your teen is pregnant or the “career talk” after he has dropped out of college is typically not well received.  When guilt, fear and anger are mixed into  the picture, our impact on our teens becomes muted.  Discussing these important topics before the crisis happens does not guarantee that a crisis will not occur, but it serves to give your teen permission to make tough decisions.  Ultimately, our teens want our permission to make tough decisions if they feel like we have been with them on the journey.  If we swoop in occaisionally trying to save the day, those discussions will not go well.

Help your teens move forward with their future by being there for them today.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach In Oak Park, IL.  Sign up for a complementary session at https://my.timedriver.com/LXVKG

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