At 6:30 AM every morning I leave my driveway and head for the gym. Most days, as I pass a certain intersection, I see a car with its headlights on, parked by the side of the road.
It’s a parent – a caring, protective parent who takes his child to wait for the school bus. It’s not anyone I know, but in my imagination I see him expressing love, making sacrifices and saving for the child’s college education. This is the kind of adult I write for – someone who would do practically anything to help his child grow up to be a happy, successful adult. A person who would even read books to learn ways to be a more effective parent.
The thing is, it’s going to take a lot more than love, sacrifice and a college education. To achieve that happy result, it’s going to take some things this parent doesn’t even know about yet.
For example, he needs to know what’s happening in a young teenager’s brain, the potential consequences, and how to turn all this into positives. Really, really important stuff.
And communication skills. It’s rare that even a loving parent has strong communication skills. Without these skills, it will be hard to maintain the bridge of communication between parent and teenager. And without this connection with his child, there is so much he won’t be able to do, even with a good heart. The man in the car doesn’t yet know specifically what the skills are, and he doesn’t know what it will take to improve them.
So many good, positive things can happen. So many horrible things can happen, the worst things imaginable. The teen years are a perilous time.
I know not every parent is willing to do the work. But many are. And I imagine that the man in the car is the kind of parent I write for.