Category Archives: Adversity

The Anatomy of Structure

Whether a child realizes it or not, a structured home is a true blessing. Those that have it take it for granted and those that lack it usually experience high levels of stress and drama.  The degree of the chaos will be determined by the values and morals that the adults have imparted on their offspring.

To be effective, the structured environment must include boundaries and consequences, words and actions, and, most importantly, both parents must be of one accord. If a boundary is violated there must be a consequence. Words that lack action are merely hollow ideals. And a mom and a dad working as a team are a force of nature.

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Surviving the Great Uprising

Adolescence will seem, for most parents, like the time of the great uprising. Herein, all the moral values you have taught and modeled will matter the most. The opposite is also true. The values you failed to teach and model will come back to haunt you.

As in the case of one mother who asked me during the question and answer session, after I gave a speech, what she should do since she had never set down any rules for her child. The short answer: set some rules and hang on for the ride. The long answer: WW III is about to begin at your place. Good luck.

Speak Directly

Speaking directly to a teen does not mean it is a negative conversation. It will prepare them for the world. Too often I hear adults, mostly  parents, skirting an uncomfortable issue for the sake of their teen’s feelings. While we should never attack and insult we should also call death, death. We should call an overdose, an overdose.

The world and its ways do not care what bothers you or your child. Over protecting them from facing reality does not prepare them for it. If anything it places a false veil over the actual events. The best way to deal with the grim realities that accompany a tragedy it to call it as it is.

To Read or Not to Read

Reading is perhaps the most vital skill which all youth must possess. And yet the vast majority of the young men I have mentored do not read. Some, very few at that, become avid readers later in life once the school of hard knocks has dealt them some serious lessons. But could this be the great deterrent to those hard knocks?

We will never know. In most cases, they have had no example of the benefits of reading or of books in their lives. Most of the homes I have ventured into are devoid of books. Children that read are usually the offspring of parents who value reading. It will difficult to be a student of life without an interest in reading.

Passive Parenting and Teens

Passive parenting rarely produces teenagers who are problem solvers. When it does it was accidental. If anything, passive parenting serves to produce teens who feel that they are entitled to get their way. These are the youngsters who will behave as if they know more than their boss who happens to have years of experience.

In my experience, I have witnessed this scenario play out dozens of times. The teen openly defies the boss, is fired or reprimanded, but still fails to understand his or her place in the great scheme of things. They go home, complain to their passive parent, who in turn does not set them straight with some actual parenting. Instead this weak parent will call the boss to try to smooth things over for their offspring.

Living Versus Existing

Living and existing are not the same thing. Many of the young men and women I have mentored have dropped out of high school. Out of the ones I have stayed in touch with most of them have struggled to makes a modest living. Their lack of preparation has left them with minimum wage jobs or dead end jobs.

An education is not an end-all and does not guarantee financial success, but it does open doors of opportunity. Most of my young friends covet a life of excitement and do their best to be happy, but when one lives from paycheck to paycheck or as they say “hand to mouth” there is very little to look forward to other than another day working marathon hours to survive. This is not living. It is merely existing.

Lessons in a Courtroom

A day in court can emphasize the need to have purpose in your life. For many of my middle class friends the idea that one needs to have purpose in one’s life is a no-brainer. It’s one of those statements that will be met with a sarcastic remark. Something along the lines of, “no kidding,” or worse.

This is not the case for many of the young men and young women I have seen in court. Far too many live in state of stunted animation. There is no planning for a better tomorrow. What comes along, comes along. For many that something is idle time, which indeed is the devil’s workshop. Even if there are thoughts of a goal there is no hurry. Entertainment is king and so goals can wait.