Wes: The first column of every New Year brings the Double Take resolutions for teens and parents. It may be a cliché to set new goals at this arbitrary moment in time, but really any day is a good one to start something that brings more sense and meaning to our lives. Here are my suggestions for parents in 2011.
Resolve to be the parent. You don’t have to apologize for setting standards and expectations for your children. That’s your job. Just remember that a kid’s job is to buck the system and thereby assert his or her own will and self-determination.
If both of you do your jobs in 2011, things will come out OK. Sometimes that’s hard, especially when parents don’t want to be the bad guy.
Resolve to take things less personally. Too many parents get a huge chunk of ego caught up in what their kids do or don’t do right.
Of course it’s natural to feel that your children are extensions of yourself and your values, but an excessive focus on that topic also increases emotional reactivity and decreases logic and reason. For parents, that never ends up well.
Resolve to use “discipline” as a noun instead of a verb. Have a discipline, meaning a way of thinking about and valuing the world that you understand and can share with your children. And remember, the word itself comes from the word “disciple.”
Your goal in 2011 should be to create followers among your kids, not subjects or victims of your punishment.
Ben: In 2011, I suggest the following resolutions for teenagers:
Resolve to talk more than text. Never use the texting function of a cell phone more than your own lips for conversation, to begin or end relationships, while actual people are talking to you, or while driving a car (remember, that’s also illegal now).
Resolve to listen. Acknowledge that some people (i.e. parents, teachers, friends) may actually be wiser than you are and at least hear them out when they give advice, even if you don’t want to hear it or disagree entirely.
Resolve to breathe. Occasionally stop, however regularly or irregularly, to just let the world spin for a while. Read a book, stargaze, sing loudly while nobody else is around, or do whatever is needed to do to stop taking yourself and everyone else so seriously.
Next week: A freshman comes home from college full of excitement, and now wonders if she wants to go back.