We could spend all day on this topic but I promised myself I would write shorter articles.
Being a parent can be a real drag. You’re experienced, worldly … you’ve been there and done that. But your tweens & teens have zero interest in receiving your input. When you speak, it is like talking to your cat (Far Side fans will understand that joke).
Judge Judy often says, “Do you know how to tell if a teenager is lying to you? Their mouths are moving.” She probably isn’t far from the truth.
But, as parents you need to understand that while teenagers need to be held accountable — they aren’t always responsible for their actions; which leads right back to the same reason why they don’t listen to you.
The bottom of the truth is — until about 25 or so (the number varies between gender and on a per-person basis — we’re using this as a baseline for discussion) — the human mind is not properly developed to perform proper risk analysis. It is science; biology. Your teenager isn’t evil incarnate (although they do act like it sometimes).
They are unable to make rational decisions based on simple risk assessment. Google it.
When a fully formed mind (typical mind — nothing abnormal going on) reaches a decision gate on how to behave — risk assessment kicks in. Do you walk father down the well lit road or do you take the shortcut through the dark alley?
A teen’s mind doesn’t process the hundreds of crazy scenarios you just prodded through while you read this. Dark Alley = faster and less walking: score!
Yes, they know people are mugged and raped in dark alleys sometimes. They know some people go missing after being seen ENTERING a dark alley. But guess what poor risk assessment means to them?
Won’t happen to me. They cannot connect their actions rationally with an undesirable end result. It won’t happen to me.
Ever have your teen do something completely ridiculous that could have cost them their life and you spew about what terrible thing COULD have happened to them? Risk assessment isn’t available right now, Mrs. Torrence. You get the response, “But it didn’t, so that’s ok”.
Do your research. At some point, you might even feel SORRY for your teen’s inability to make the right decision at any given turn. It is almost like they are … mentally challenged … which is why YOU as the parent have to sometimes make the choices FOR them — whether they like it or not.
There was a great “talking head” video called ‘Adolescent Thinking’ — I haven’t been able to find it again.
So, try this one instead: