Majority Rules

People of mixed racesThis post was inspired by Ronit’s diversity education, by our family’s life in several countries around the world, by Eden’s recent foray into academic research, by our many dealings with people of different communication styles, bust mostly by my occasional frustration of being a minority…

Having grown up in one place for 28 years and then moved to another country, Ronit and I had to change many basic assumptions about what everyone knows, how everyone thinks and what everyone expects. It is called Culture Shock. We already knew quite a bit about the United States (I had even been an exchange student there), so the change did not shock us, but boy was it different.

Now imagine going from that to Thailand! Hardly any English, driving on the left, completely different social norms and ethics, hot, humid, rainy, full of mosquitoes… What everyone did in Thailand was very different to what everyone did in Texas.

The thing is, in each one of these places, people who had grown up there and had never been anywhere else could not perceive anything other than what they had been accustomed to. To them, “everyone” was everyone they knew and that was good enough.

Read more about why you should be more accepting

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Troubled Teens: Terrible Times

Typical teenage boyIn the last three weeks, I gave you a sneak peek into teenagers’ minds. Many parents say to me, “If I only knew what’s happening in their mind…” and I think they have only forgotten what was on their mind when they were teens, or maybe they have forgotten the struggles their friends had during the toughest periods of their life – adolescence.

Here are the last 5 typical teenager thoughts and tips to prevent or eliminate them.

I prefer to be alone

“Thank God they are going away this weekend. I can have the house to myself. I can watch TV as much as I like, play the computer as much as I like and eat whatever I want. Freedom at last!”

What parents can do

When kids reach the teen years, they loves to be on their own sometimes and it is normal and healthy for them to be on their own. Even bringing a babysitter to stay with them (to take care of the other kids, of course) can give them that sense of freedom and it is not a sign of your good or bad parenting.

Having an evening when they can do something different is very attractive to teenagers and as a parent, you need to provide them with opportunities for such time. I remember myself at the age of 15 having the time of my life when my parents were away for the weekend. I did all the same things I did when they were there, but it felt better. On evenings when they went out, we played hide and seek in the dark and I still have wonderful memories of those special days.

Read more about how to handle troubled teens

Troubled Teens: Scary Times

clip_image004_thumb[1]This series is meant to help parents of teens and parents of kids who are turning into teens understand what teenagers think and what they go through as part of this tough period of their life. Each “twisted” thought is followed by something parents can do to help their teenagers and everyone else involved.

As in previous chapters, here are 5 things teens think and feel that scare them and make them act weird, and what you can do about them. I hope it will help you find alternative ways to address the issues and prevent them from keeping those thoughts any longer.

My parents are cruel and weak

“I think my parents are cruel. They hate me. They scream, shout and always tell me I’m wrong. They brought me into the world to torture me. They are weak. How can I trust them when I need help if they are so weak?”

What parents can do

When children are upset, they may think that you are behaving the way you do with the ultimate purpose of hurting them. Many parents mistake discipline for power when in fact, abusing your power and yelling, shouting or telling kids they are wrong are signs of weakness and may cause your children, especially teenagers, not to trust you to support them when they need help. This is because using pressure and force is all about you, not them.

Read more about how to deal with troubled teenagers

Troubled Teens: Confusing Years

Teen girl posingIn the past, people thought that teens’ behavior during the teenage years was directly connected to physical changes they start to experience at the age of 12, which makes them feel strange with their body changes and confuses them. Today, the approach is that adolescence is a more gradual process that starts with the first time children want to try doing things on their own, sometime as early as the age of 3.

If teenagers seem confused to you, it is mainly because they have reached a point in their life when they need to define who they are, what they think, what they like or hate, what their beliefs are and what they wants to be later on in life. These thoughts are tough. I know many adults who have not reached that self-definition yet, so this is not easy for a 12-year-old to do, although they are expected to have some clue about it.

Around the age of 10, beliefs that were part of children’s identity are shattered and they need to put the pieces together to survive emotionally. Kids with high emotional intelligence can do that, but most cannot, so they have to ask for help from those who unintentionally create the problem – their parents or their teachers.

This series will give you a sneak peek into teens’ confused brain and help you understand why it is so hard do be a teenager. I still remember my adolescence, I am raising my second teen, the third one is reaching puberty soon and I have worked with lots of teenagers in the last 25 years, so this list is quite reliable.

Read more about how to raise happy teens

Family Policy

Amazed little girlLast Sunday, Ronit ran a parenting workshop and I came in the afternoon to help her pack. When I arrived, she was still talking to the parents about rules and boundaries and mentioned the way she used “family rules” to avoid conflicts with the kids.

That reminded me of the time when I wanted to register for a software engineering course at the local university. The course I wanted was popular and all the places were taken, so I rang during my lunch break to ask to be put on the waiting list.

“I’m sorry, Sir, but you’ll have to come in person and fill out the waiting list form”, the administrator told me.

“Can you please just take my details and put me on the list?”

“I’m sorry, Sir, but it’s university policy”, she said.

Boy, was I pissed off at this. I was spewing for weeks afterwards. It may have even contributed to my later stomach ulcer. Or not.

Over the years that followed, more and more companies structured their operations in such a way that clients could not get their way. Not easily, anyway. When I rang Customer Service, I would bump into First Line staff who were basically trained parrots. The term “company policy” rang in my ears more and more often. It was infuriating.

But at some point, Ronit and I learned how to use the same trick to our advantage as parents. Oh, sweet revenge!

Read more about how to stop fighting with your kids