Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Magical Moment in the Life of a Teenager

What's the most high-impact event in the life of a teenager - the one that changes everything? Well, it's not the party celebrating the 13th birthday. Or the first date, although that's the perspective of many young people.

No, the magical moment in the life of a teenager happens when a caring adult gives the young person a "heads up" about the daunting changes and challenges he or she is about to experience throughout adolescence, along with the consequences of making wrong choices.

I hasten to add that for most teenagers, this magical moment never happens.

In my research about the teen years, only one adult has told me he had a legitimate "heads up" conversation when he was young. Most of the people I interviewed were told nothing when they were teens - not even about sex. I've written before about why adults have a hard time having these talks with teens. The magnitude of this lost opportunity is mind-boggling.

That's why I wrote the books, Conversations with the Wise Aunt (for girls) and Conversations with the Wise Uncle (for boys) - to fill that gap, to tell young people things they need to be told.

The books tell the story of a relationship between a young person and a caring adult who mentors the child during the teen years. The wisdom that is shared is life-changing, the kind that can give a teenager a huge edge as he or she deals with the challenges of the teen years and prepares for adult life.

A typical question: At what age should you give your child the book?

The answer is that if your child has reached puberty, he or she will better appreciate the significance of the conversations. And if your teen experiences the book before high school, the wisdom can help him or her make good choices when challenged by the youth culture and peer pressure.

These insights are so important that they can give your child a major advantage, regardless of age.  I believe the most effective approach is for you to read the book first to get ideas for one-on-one talks with your teenager. Once familiar with what it says, you can say something like, "I found this amazing book for teens. It's a story about a boy's (or girl's) teen years, and it contains a lot of practical wisdom, things most kids never hear about. I wish I'd been able to give you a copy a few years ago, but it wasn't available then. I'd like you to have it anyway."

Then, after both of you have read the book, you can talk about how the insights can make a difference in your teen's life.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2012. Building Personal Strength .

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