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Seven Critical Questions for Teens: Question #4

April 24, 2012

The fourth critical question for teens from Jeffrey Leiken (http://leiken.com/) is:  Whose advice will you follow?  From ages 13-18 young people are increasingly impacted by the opinions of their peers, which is both good and bad.  It is good because teens need to assert their independence and separate from their parents, but it can be bad, because other teens are not always the best influencers.  In a healthy family, parents will ALWAYS have the greatest impact on their teens, but even good parents could use a helping hand.  This is where the role of mentors comes into play.  Mentors are simply people who are  a little (or a lot) further down the road than your teen and happen to care about your child.  Mentors are a parents best friend!!!  Mentors can be teachers, coaches, youth leaders, older students, older friends, work colleagues or relatives.  Mentors are typically mature, same sex people who have a positive outlook on life.  The beauty of a mentor is that he/she can help your child develop without the baggage of a parent/child relationship.   

So, what is our role as fathers when it comes to mentors?  Simple, help our teens choose wise mentors and avoid spending time with destructive ones.  Dads, you need to get to know potential mentors thoroughly and answer these 3 key questions affirmatively:

1.  Does this person represent the type of values that I would like to see my teen develop?

2.  Is this person trustworthy?

3.  Does my teen come back energized and feeling good after meeting his/her mentor?

When you answer “YES” to all these questions, then you have found someone worthy of being a mentor.  If your teen starts hanging around a destructive mentor, then Dads you need to forcefully step in.  Teens are smart, but they do not realize that hanging around negative people in their teens can seriously derail their dreams.  The average high school graduate has two good friends seven years after high school, so let’s not let people who most likely will not be in our life ruin our lives in high school.  Dads give your teens some leash to grow, but do not let them drift into the land of negativity and rebellion.  You are still a dominant influence in their lives if you do not abdicate that responsibility.  The combination of a healthy parent relationship and a mentor will lead to a teen with confidence, empathy and vision.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  For a free coaching session contact him victorylifecoaching@gmail.com or jump right on his calendar https://my.timedriver.com/LXVKG.  Sessions are done in person, on the phone or via skype.

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