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Seven Critical Questions for Teens: Question #2

April 15, 2012

Does your opinion matter to your teen?The second critical question for teens from Jeffrey Leiken ( is this:  Whose opinion matters to you?  Many teens are so desperate for approval from others and to “fit in” that they are willing to change their opinions to fit any circumstance.  This “chameleon” like approach to life is not super helpful when teens encounter peer pressure around alcohol, drugs and sex.  As fathers, it would be great if “our opinion” was one that mattered most to our teens.  The good news is, that is possible.  The bad news is that it is not automatic.  If we want our teens to have deeper opinions/values, then we need to model that behavior.  Teens are masters at rooting out hypocrisy, but they also deeply respect genuineness.  

Talk to your teen about tough decisions you make in your daily life and how you make them.  A tough decision about confronting someone at work can be a hugely teachable moment, that will give your teen the permission stand up for their beliefs.  Our kids actually want to do the right thing more than we suspect.  Often, they just need an injection of courage to follow though on their beliefs.

The other critical piece to making our opinion important to our kids is to start by listening.  As men, we sometimes just want to get the problem solved and move on.  Take an extra moment and really listen empathetically and ask good open ended questions to your teen.  Teens are just like the rest of us.  They tend to take the opinions seriously of those who have really have “heard” them.

When we model behavior aligned to our values and really listen to our kids we score twice.  Our kids will respect us more and they are also more likely to seek our opinions on critical issues.  That friends is known as the daily double!!!

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at

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