Archive for the ‘All Roles’ Category

When scary thoughts get planted in our heads, we want to look away from them… because they’re scary.

But like gravity, these scary thoughts have a way of methodically and irrepressibly pulling our attention towards them… gnawing at us and whisperingly calling to us until the seeds of self-doubt and fear begin to move us closer and closer to them.

Like driving in the outside lane of a high bridge on a black, stormy windy night… we grip tighter and focus on staying in the lane, fighting the pull of the image in our minds of that split second loss of control that could send us over the edge.

There’s a parable I read once about an old Buddhist monk, slowed and shrunk by his years. This monk, on a beautiful, crisp blue sky’ed day was walking a group of young apprentices through the impeccably manicured grounds of his monastery when they walked past an enormous dog tethered to the fence. As they continued on their walk, silently appreciating the subtle beauties and colors of the landscape, the collection of monks heard a loud snap. And when they all turned around they were immediately jarred away from the peace of their attention on the world around them… instantly drawn to the frothing dog bounding directly towards them. Reflexively, the group of young apprentice monks took off, running as fast as they could in their flowing robes away from the on-rushing dog… all except one… the old monk slowed and shrunk by years. Instead, this old, tired, worn man ran in a different direction… instead of running away with the other, younger monks, his instinct took him directly towards the ferocious beast hurling towards him threatening mayhem and injury. And as the distance closed to the point that he could see the brown of the dogs eyes and feel the heat of the dogs breath, the young monks saw what they never imagined they would see… they saw the anger and rage and hunger of the dog turn… and they saw this tiny, frail man standing still and tall above the dog… who was laying on it’s back, legs splayed, in it’s show of submission.

I actually tell this story to the students who come to me with fear or apprehension in their eyes… which is many, especially nowadays. With all the media attention focused on all things scary and ominous… teenagers committing suicide… mass killings in schools… stories of Mayan predictions of the end of days… with all these fearful thoughts pulling our children’s attention (as well as our own), like gravity, away from the details and simple realities and futures of their young lives, they need to know that they’re more powerful than their scary thoughts.

They, just like the rest of us, need to know that if we run AT the dogs… the ones bearing down on us in our thoughts… they will submit.

No, we don’t want to promote foolish or ignorant bravery, because there are times in our real, physical lives when it’s time to walk away, leave or run. But not when the fears come to us in our minds. These are the fears we can and need to dominate.

Our kids need us to show them how to stare down their demons.

Our kids need us to say the scary things that we know are on their minds.

They need us, the adults in their lives, to run AT the words suicide and school tragedies and failure and loneliness and pain and trauma. Because if we don’t, these fears become contagious and evolve into the driving forces of their behavior… which may be why we’re hearing of so many more stories of bullying and teen suicide and mass killings… and on and on.

They need us to show them that feeling brave and strong and confident come to them only AFTER they face the thing they’re afraid to face, and that being scared is normal but does not have to paralyze. And we do this by inviting conversation. By asking our kids to put to words their thoughts and fears and ideas… and by listening to them and showing them with our attention and our compassion that the things that scare us do not have to control us.

Our urges to protect our children from all things bad and scary are beautiful urges… but despite the strength of our convictions, these urges won’t prevent the barrage of negativity inundating the airwaves from imbedding themselves into the thoughts of our kids.

This is the world we live in, beautiful and ugly, and putting our heads in the sand, because we so badly wished the world were different for our kids, doesn’t stop the media from exposing the darker sides of humanity to them. Unfortunately, looking away from something doesn’t mean it is gone.

So if we know this… if we know that in our kids’ minds are the scary thoughts of real life demons… and if we know that these thoughts are pulling their attention away from their lives and onto the fearful words and images gnawing at them in their heads… then we need to arm them with a strategy that makes them feel more powerful than the mental gravity of unpleasant thoughts.

We need to make the time and speak the words they may be too afraid to speak… we need to teach them to run at their dogs… so they can see themselves, with us next to them, standing tall, over, above and in control of the fears they’re so scared will pull them over the edge.

And once we’re done staring down demons and running at dogs with our kids… then we need to kick them out of the house, with or without us, to go see something beautiful or do something fun.

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When you’re at your most emotional… when you’re feeling profound sadness, pre-occupation with uncertainty or pure and simple blind rage… how would you respond if someone told you to be more logical? It might not go over so well would it? You might get angry, you might tell the person directing you to put aside your feelings to buzz off (or some other four letter word)… or you might just shut them out and ignore their direction.

So why are we surprised when our exceedingly emotionally driven inner-city teenagers, or any teenagers for that matter, are failing at math and the sciences? Why are we so confused by our students’s rejection of linear and logical thinking?  And if our goal is in fact to facilitate ownership of information and critical thinking skills, why are we ignoring or looking away from the likely psycho-social obstacles inhibiting learning?

But before you think I’m going to suggest babying our emotionally needy students, keep reading… because I’m suggesting the exact opposite. I’m suggesting we re-focus on preparing them and teaching them how to NOT use their feelings as excuses.

While experts in education continue their obsession with data collection and analysis, many of our students continue to grow more and more disengaged from our math and science content areas. Teachers all across the country, and not just in our city schools, seem to be flailing in quicksand when it comes to getting their kids to absorb their math and science curriculum.

As professional development workshops continue to target teacher inclusion of technology, “creativity” and “interactivity” in lesson planning, I feel compelled to speak from an entirely different paradigm. Assuming there is nothing physiologically or neurologically different with todays youth from youth of the past, there must be some other explanation as to why our collective math and science proficiency continues to decline. And we can choose to keep slapping different coats of paint on the same old tools… or we can be a little more creative and think differently about a problem we’re getting further from resolving.

As a counselor, my lens obviously draws my attention to the emotional, developmental or environmental factors possibly causing student defiance towards math and science instruction… and while I’m no mathematician, biologist, physicist or chemist, it seems pretty evident that these content areas require more linear and logical processing than other content areas.

For a growing population of urban youth, their environments and circumstances are stirring a sense of entitlement. Something along the lines of “my life and my neighborhood are rough… and as such, the world owes me, my emotions are justified, and therefore, my actions, no matter what they are, are also justified”. Because of the stresses and perceived threats they’re living with every day, many children are exhibiting an emotionality and volatility that conveys “the right” to do and say whatever it is that their mood dictates… and this sense of emotional entitlement is over-powering the calm, logical state of mind that math and the sciences require to stay on track. And this “survive the moment” mentality is preventing them from seeing any future… and if a kid isn’t thinking about their future, or of goals, then the need to learn boring, but valuable lessons today becomes almost non-existant.

And consequently, given the emotionality and entitlement so many teenagers and younger students are bringing into their classrooms, many more educators are being forced to spend more time managing their classroom climates than instructing and checking for understanding… which simply positions teachers to fail. As administrations and funding sources continue to look more and more at data which inevitably minimizes context and the true texture of a learners mind, teachers are more and more finding themselves frantically trying to get through material and adhering to their pacing charts… rather than taking their time to ensure knowledge acquisition. Essentially, educators are being compelled to honor the needs of the decision makers more than the needs of the students.

Basically, it’s the perfect storm right now for educators, and especially for those charged with the responsibility of teaching content areas that allow less for abstract and tangential thinking. Math and science are slowly becoming stigmatized to many students as “unnecessary”, and not because they necessarily believe they’re unnecessary subjects.  They’re getting stigmatized because the kind of thinking math and science require is in such conflict with the emotional mind, that it’s just easier to write the content off as useless than it is to figure out how to put their personal needs and feelings aside enough to absorb the lessons.

So rather than trying to convince a child, or a classroom of students that math and science are fun… and rather than running yourselves ragged trying to prove just how necessary and important the material is… perhaps an educators best strategy (depending on the age of the students) would be the most transparent one. Maybe the bells and whistles promoted in professional development workshops need to give way to an approach that honors the developmental needs of these certain kinds of students who are fundamentally rejecting more technical content areas.

Maybe instructors of math and science need to 1) acknowledge and validate the students disinterest and/or difficulty with the subject (instead of trying to sell something that simply won’t be bought), 2) improve classroom management abilities to create and maintain the low-energy climate required to calm emotionality and improve focus and 3) emphasize over and over again, that regardless of a students feelings about a subject (or even a teacher), they can in fact learn it, and learn it well.

Many students, and an increasing number of educators are under the false impression that enjoyment and “happiness” are required for learning… and this perception is doing nothing but holding instructors hostage. Instead, let’s all remain mindful that we’re educators, not entertainers, and that boredom or disinterest or personal feelings do not need to be catered to in classrooms (that’s more for the counselors in 1 to 1 or group sessions)… and that there are in fact ways to teach subjects that students aren’t good at or don’t like without having to put on a clown suit or amp up the special effects.

Be honest. Be direct. Be deliberate. Validate your students perceptions and emotionality… and then instruct them with the foundational understanding that school will always be about preparing young people to complete tasks, overcome obstacles, answer to authority and do jobs… irregardless of personal feelings or circumstance. Yes, easier said than done… especially by a counselor… but maybe a truth nonetheless.

If teenagers can be conditioned to believe that “getting by”  is a goal they’ve chosen for themselves, or that their futures are limited by the circumstances in which they grow up… then they can be conditioned to break stereotypes and become much much more. Despite all that we read about inner-city youth, it is this simple. The behaviors and choices of our struggling urban youth are manifestations of their environments. When asked, their ideas about themselves sound more like cliche sound bites than honest reflections… and strangely, their inauthentic senses of self gives us hope, because it means their true natures have yet to be defined or discovered.

The only antidote to the toxic messages of inability that so many city children have absorbed is a crystal clear understanding of two truths.

1) That up until the moment they become aware of the ways they’ve been conditioned, their lives and their futures have not been their own.

2) They are without question, responsible for every word they speak and every action they take.

Black. White. Russian. Indian. Chinese. Hispanic. Middle Eastern. Muslim. Jewish. Catholic. Baptist. Wealthy. Poor.

Regardless of demographic, if a teenager can be guided to understand that the strengths and weaknesses they currently possess have been cultivated by messages from family, from music, from friends, from movies… than they can guided to realize that they do in fact have a say in how the rest of their futures play out. They can be freed from the delusion that they’re self-made and introduced to the idea of determining their real selves. And this is what they need to know to begin taking ownership of what they do with their days. In school. At home. In parks. With others. On their own. And this is when we might start to see the conviction and effort we so badly want to see.

Every day I hear the conditioned words and witness the conditioned choices of teenagers expressing a profound lack of fortitude, ownership and creativity. And what is saddest about what we’re seeing from so many inner-city teenagers, is that their deficiencies were not chosen by them… they were given to them. It is absolutely true that many city children are raised in broken families, exposed to traumas and neglect or compelled to endure stresses caused by economic hardship, but what they haven’t yet learned is that while these truths may steepen the incline, they in no way prevent ascent. The fortitude to learn and achieve is just as much their right as it is the right of anyone born into privilege… they just need to be guided past the maze of built-in excuses and justifications.

And this is where opportunity lives. The opportunity for individuals in positions to influence to stir the self-awareness needed to spark ownership… and the opportunity for the young people themselves to begin identifying and pursuing the lives they want to live.

Jeans sagging below backsides. Swear words every 3rd word. Reactive aggression. Sought conflict. Violent relationships. Drug use. Teen pregnancy. Failing grades. Issues with authority. Gang involvement. Bullying. Whatever the cliched behavior we’re witnessing from our inner-city teens, all they need is permission to be different, and a person insightful and direct enough to intelligently hold up a mirror and hold them accountable for the choices they make… and yes, it is possible to validate circumstances without pitying… and it is possible to hold accountable without being insensitive to circumstance.

If we’re trying to find the right buttons to push, we have to make sure our efforts are driven by an honest belief in their capacity to work harder and achieve more. There’s no room for guilt, pity or blinders when trying to light a fire in a child… because there is nothing more oppressive than low expectations or unrealistic goals.

If we’re trying to re-condition young people to believe in their actual abilities rather than accept their rumored inabilities, then we have to make sure that we never convey satisfaction when low expectations are met. And if we’re trying to incite personal revolutions in so many inner-city children who’ve been shackled and brainwashed by subtle, sneaky and crushing stereotypes… then we have to be transparent and relentless in what we know… which is that they’re living in a world that is either forgetting, or neglecting just how impressionable young people are, and that they are in fact powerful and capable far beyond what they currently feel.

No, my words here don’t answer the question of how to run classrooms in under-funded urban schools filled with under-performing students, but a deeper understanding of the obstacles and needs of our kids is a great place to start… and just as our inner-city youth are far more capable than they’re showing… so are the rest of us.

New to this blogging thing, I’ve been searching the internet to see what’s out there… and so far, I’m a little disappointed. I’m disappointed not because there aren’t great pieces written by amazingly inspired and intelligent parents and professionals, because there most certainly are, but I’m disappointed in what I’m not seeing.

I’m not seeing much for the urban parents struggling with their inner-city teens. I’m not seeing much for the single inner-city mothers. The grandparents raising too many grandchildren. The foster parents fostering young teens who have been heart-breakingly neglected or worse. I’m not seeing original and authentic ideas about why so many of our urban youth are barely meeting the low standards we set for them, and I’m not seeing thoughtful and simple suggestions as to how to get a kid to be the first in their family to go to college. And I’ll keep looking… but so far, not so good.

Urban teens absolutely get attention in the media, but other than the overwhelmingly negative depictions on the news of what urban youth are doing with their time, or not doing in school… I don’t see much of anything constructive. And I’m not trying to diminish the efforts or authors that are out there, because I have the utmost respect for anyone sharing their stories of triumph or their ideas about how to improve things, I just want a lot more attention given to this growing population of youth sinking deeper and deeper into their own apathy and resentments.

And I’m not here to pretend to know what it’s like to be a marginalized inner-city teen of color, nor would I ever presume to understand the plight of the young minority parent struggling with money and fighting to find a balance between meeting their own needs and meeting those of their teenager… but I am here to do everything I can with the skills, insights and experiences I have. I work with kids thinking about suicide. I sit with kids who are cutting themselves. I speak with kids in gangs who see fighting as a normal part of their week. I listen to kids who cut school to go to sex parties. I hear the stories of kids who have been molested by family members. I’m explaining to kids the possible consequences of sexting and sending facebook threats. I’m supporting victims of bullying, and the bullies themselves. I’m disciplining kids taunting teachers and harassing their peers. And I’m stirring kids to think more deeply about their own disinterest, self-loathing, apathy, hopelessness, helplessness or obsession with physical appearance. You name the issue, and I’m dealing with it every day.

I want to share what I’ve learned and I want somehow for my words, insights and suggestions to find there way to the urban parent who more than likely, isn’t looking for a blog on parenting. I want  somehow for my years of experience working in urban schools, shelters, group homes, drop-out prevention programs and with post-incarcerated teens to shed some light on what’s going on with kids, and how to approach them in ways that actually help them break bad habits.

I’m not claiming to have figured anything out with certainty, but I am claiming to have a lot of springboards… and by springboards, I mean words and ideas and suggestions that adults can use to jump in and stir some actual change in their own lives as parents, and in the lives of their teenagers fighting to navigate big city neighborhoods and schools.

So maybe this particular blog finds someone with some connections who feels so moved to connect me to a larger forum… or maybe this particular blog ends up just being a reminder to myself to keep trying… but whatever comes of it, I want nothing more than to affect some raw, positive, authentic change in the lives of our urban kids. Because underneath their alleged “anger” problems, and beneath their apparent “apathy” towards learning, and buried with them under the weight of neglect or subtle racism or abuse or misfortune, there’s a kid, just like any other kid, with all the skills and potential in the world. And all this kid needs is an adult or two armed with a little more insight, the humility to shut up and listen, and the courage and the care to talk to them directly without pity, and with respect and conviction.

New teacher or wily veteran, you’re going to be triggered. You’re going to have days when nothing seems to go smoothly and everything that you don’t want to happen does happen. You’re going to have students who have found your “buttons” and seem to really get a kick out of pushing them. At some point, you will come face to face with a situation (hopefully not face to face with a student) that puts your self-control to the test. Maybe you came in to work after a long night of arguing with your spouse or significant other and you’re tired and stressed. Maybe you sadly experienced a loss during the school year and you’re back in the classroom fighting the emotional distractions. Or maybe you’re of the mindset that that being extremely emotional helps you to scare or manage the behaviors of your students. Whatever the cause of your sensitivity, the most important thing to remember is that if you are at work, it is not your student’s job to consider or attend to your feelings (though this doesn’t mean you need to allow insensitivity to occur in your classroom), but it is your job to do your job… which is to get your students to learn content (and some life skills).

When we’re feeling tired, upset, vulnerable or stressed, we will be far more tempted to react to our student’s immature ways. But we can’t give in to this temptation (well, we can, but it usually backfires in fairly significant ways). Reacting to our students from our own emotions can lead to many problems. Being reactive lowers our credibility in their eyes. Being reactive gives them permission to also be reactive. Being reactive role-models excuse-making for our students and it creates unsafe, tense classrooms (“It’s not my fault I punched Jimmy, he made me mad). Like every other human, we have good days and bad days and our emotions try to get the better of us, but unlike other humans in other professions, how we manage our emotions can impact children (and it also creates an environment that adds to our own stress levels).  No one is saying it’s an easy thing to do to stay non-reactive to provocative childish behavior, but if we don’t develop the ability to do so, we’re not only teaching unhealthy behavior to our students, but we’re also running the risk of harming our classroom climate in the future (which again, works against our goal of making our jobs easier, not harder).

In order for our students to remain focused on the learning and on our instruction, they need to trust that we’ll always be responsible for our actions and our words. And in order for our students to always do their job… we always have to do ours… even if it means holding onto our emotions until we leave work (and I’m not promoting that you take it out on your pet either). The best ways to relieve emotional stockpiles differ from person to person, but some of the healthy strategies (which might be less entertaining than the unhealthy ones depending on your proclivities) include exercise, talking to a counselor, artistic endeavors, nature, music, writing or reading… so choose wisely as best you can, when, how and with whom you unleash your emotions.

Without a connection to our children and students, we can’t have influence. We can expend energy and use our spare time (if in fact you have any) lecturing, scolding and speaking wonderfully motivational speeches, but if our children’s ears and hearts aren’t open to what we’re saying, they won’t be affected and we’ll stay frustrated.

As caring adults, we all want our wisdom heard and used by our children to make healthier decisions. We all hope that our kids trust us enough and respect us enough to be affected by what we have to say. We all wish every day that our kids learn from our life experiences and mistakes.  But for teenagers heading towards independence and craving more freedom, resistance to our affection and insight is all too common…  as well as developmentally normal.

Keeping lines of communication open requires more than simply telling our children that “they can come to us any time.” For children to listen to adults attentively and to feel motivated to speak with us honestly about their feelings and their lives, we need to honor our role as role models. We need to be self-aware enough to know when we’re not really listening and just waiting to unleash our authority. We need to be patient enough to hear their words even when their words are loud, emotional and different from what we want them to be saying. And we need to be humble enough to know that while we were once adolescents, times are different now and we don’t entirely know what life is like for them.

While we can never guarantee that our words and wisdom get heard, there most definitely are communication strategies that increase the likelihood. For the most part, louder volumes, more aggressive tones, righteousness, threats and intimidation shut children down and work against our goals of being heard and having influence. If we really want our children to trust us enough to talk with us openly, and if the most important thing is in fact to improve our children’s decision making, than we need to find a way to put aside our ego’s, contain our emotions, and communicate thoughtfully and deliberately. And this isn’t to suggest that you baby your adolescents, I’m merely suggesting that you use your maturity and intelligence to ensure that your authority be heard.

As much as we’d like to be able to tell our children what to do and have them do it without question, it’s often just not that simple. Nor is it a simple task to get them to come to us with their problems on their own. Keeping lines of communication open with our children only happens when we are paying close enough attention to see when they’ve shut us out. And when we see that they’ve shut us out, as the adults, it’s in everybody’s best interest if we can be creative and flexible enough to change our approach. No, I’m not recommending that you back off or stop parenting or teaching, because young people need structure, limits and accountability. All that is being suggested is that if you see that strategy A isn’t working, move on to strategy B, even if strategy B isn’t within your comfort zone.  Keep in mind that your goal is to empower them… not for you to feel more powerful.

So next time your child messes up and is in need of consequences or wisdom… or next time your child is showing signs and behaviors that are causing you concern… listen and observe more attentively, lecture and preach less, and ask more questions that challenge them to think and maintain your connection with them. And if you notice that your words and efforts are appearing to “go in one ear and out the other,” or if they are appearing detached, indifferent or angry at you, be sure you keep trying different approaches until you see their light turn on and give you eye contact. Otherwise, you’ll just add to your own frustration, and your child will continue to remain disconnected from you and in danger of strengthening the unhealthy habits that are causing you the most worry.

You’re a parent or guardian of a teenager in high school, and they’re not doing as well as you’d like. Influencing your child to do anything that they don’t want to do can prove to be a very challenging task… though there is hope, and there are definitely efforts you can put forth that will drastically improve your chances of inspiring your child.

If you happen to be responsible for a child who is lacking in the self-motivation and discipline needed to excel in school, your first step is to resist temptation.  As a caring guardian of a high school student, it is very likely that you’re going to experience varying levels of frustration (maybe some rage), disappointment and concern regarding your child’s school performance. These emotions, while completely normal, will tempt you to react emotionally to your child’s lack of school investment… but this often works against our collective goal of motivating them. Expressing righteousness and outrage, while a release for us, may lead only to your child’s shut down and resistance.

When your child brings home report cards with less than glowing grades, or you’re receiving more calls than you’d like from teachers expressing concern over your child’s classroom performance, rather than reflexively react, the most productive thing you can do is to reflect (I know, hard to do and fairly annoying).  There are many possible explanations for low performance, and while “lazy” is often the easiest explanation, it’s also very limited.  “Lazy” is most often just a mask for some underlying obstacle, unhealthy habit or need. Before you can influence your child’s efforts, you first have to gain some insight into the forces feeding their lack of effort and limiting their proficiency.

Is your child unable to absorb the lessons taught in class because they’re bringing with them to school the tension, conflicts and stress they’re experiencing at home? Is your child acting up in class instead of focusing on the teacher because they feel “stupid” and don’t want anyone to see that they doubt their own intelligence? Is your child failing because they’ve developed the habit of jumping from activity to activity (ie. texting, chatting, skyping, facebooking, videogaming etc.) and can no longer stay attentive to tasks that require patience and focus? Children, much like adults, are driven by their emotions and confidence levels, and when a teenager is feeling hopeless, powerless, anxious, frustrated or insecure… they’ll often mask these emotions behind displays of defiance, opposition, resistance, pleasure-seeking behaviors and… “laziness”.

So what can you do? What you can do is increase your curiosity about why your child is struggling. What you can do is decrease your emotional outbursts to your child’s low grades and negative teacher reports. What you can do is be thoughtful and deliberate (not overly emotional) with your consequences (and there are most definitely times when grounding and loss of privileges is warranted and necessary). What you can do is create a structure in your home that allots time for your child to do school work and demands that they earn privileges and freedoms.  What you can do is raise your expectations of their effort, while minimizing your decisions driven by guilt or pity (like when something mildly bad happens or when you’ve somehow disappointed them and you allow them to miss school or assignments). And what you can do is find some time amidst your own busy and exhausting days and sit with your child while they go over their notes and study for tests (even if you have no idea what they’re working on).

Unfortunately for both educators and families, no easy fix exists. There is no one recipe, nor is there any one magical lecture or sermon that will lead to immediate and enduring change.  All that we have is our partnerships with each other as families and educators, our connections with our children and our shared determination to continue to support them as best we can.

Whether you’re a parent, a teacher, a counselor, an administrator, a friend, a mentor, a family member or a teenager yourself… the words and sentiments in this blog are for you.  My intention is to stir confidence and competence in young people, and to give to  adults the skills and insights they need to strengthen their connections to the kids they care about… because without healthy connections, there is no influence.

My promise in this blog is to make no promises.  Our relationships and interactions with teenagers are too textured and unique for any one expert to claim to have “figured it out”. But what I can do, and what I do believe in, is that with a deeper understanding of the forces driving us and our kids, we can build and maintain more honest, safe and productive relationships.

Having influence is most definitely more art than science… but as confusing and frustrating as our communications with teenagers can be, there are in fact approaches that maximize the likelihood that we have the affect we want, and that our kids are better off because of our efforts. And while it’s vital that we realize the approaches that maximize the likelihood of healthy influence, it’s just as important to be able to reflect on the approaches that shut our kids down and put distance between us and them.

Technology, media and popular culture… have profound impacts on how young people develop.

Family cycles of violence, drug use and emotional disconnection… all make it more likely that our kids develop similar habits.

Apathy towards school, disinterest in future and the pull towards risky behavior… all have their reasons.

Suicidal thinking, self-injurious behaviors like cutting and eating disorders and social isolation… can be understood.

Demographics matter, but regardless of demographic, certain truths exist.  Children are raw, vulnerable, impressionable, hopeful and authentic. Our relationships to them are as inspiring and energizing as they are confusing and exhausting… and with steady curiosity, the willingness to reflect and remain humble, and with a commitment to meeting their needs more than our own, we can weather the inevitable storms that come with being in the lives of teens.

My hope is that this blog serves a purpose (other than giving me a forum to vent and sound like I know what I’m talking about). My hope is that I can create a resource that puts people at ease and gives them confidence. And my intention is to try to bring humor and perspective to all things related to teenagers and our relationships with them, because without a little humor and a lot of perspective… it all just feels crappy, and it doesn’t need to.