by Jai Flicker
In my nearly 20 years working as an educator, one of the most common, and pernicious, relationship dynamics I have seen between teens and their parents also happens to be all but invisible. This dynamic is not invisible because it is complex, or subtle, or rare. On the contrary, it is invisible because it is so utterly ubiquitous. It is invisible because it is so banal, and rational, and, well, normal.
The relationship dynamic I am referring to is one that occurs when parents focus too much of their energy and attention on managing their teen's behavior. Whether this involves ensuring the completion of homework, the cleaning of one's room, or even going to bed on time -- all laudable goals -- micromanaging teen behavior turns out to be a terribly ineffective strategy.
The problem is, most parents don't see any alternative (beside giving up altogether). So they stick with it, out of love and out of a sense of responsibility, even as it makes them, and their children, generally miserable.
Fortunately, there is an alternative. There is another way. One that is both more effective and more fulfilling. That alternative is what this piece is about.