Psychologist and author Gerry Goertzen, with 30 years of experience, joins us to discuss how to deal with teens. He admits that parenting teens is a challenging task to lead them successfully to adulthood. Gerry says that the first thing is to believe in your teens and to believe in yourself. He shares the fact that the best thing in his life has been being a dad, saying very touchingly that they can take anything away from him except his children and he’ll be fine. Marc remarks on how refreshing it is to hear a positive remark on parenting. Gerry looked forward to the teen years because he knew his kids would be developing their own personalities. He feels a huge perspective on parenting is to just welcome kids into their own lives, to help them find their own autonomy. That is the whole essence of adolescence.
Kids want to be needed, they need to feel needed, to have a prominent place and parents need to make room for that. Gerry often recommends that parents need to let go of their own dreams to make place for their children’s dreams, celebrate their strengths, and move towards their kids’ goals and achievements. Sometimes parents want to live out their own dreams through their children but that is not necessarily what makes that generation happy.
Gerry has a comical but profound saying of ‘’ If you want to walk with the big dogs, you need to learn to pee in the tall grass’’, meaning that parents must help their kids to grow strong, tall legs to navigate life. Today’s parents have the added challenge of dealing with technology and social media in raising children. Another big challenge is dealing with discipline and remaining attached and connected as friends with our kids but finding the balance between the two. Gerry suggests leaning towards good old-fashioned self-discipline rather than focusing just on punishment or just friendship. Parents need to model what they want their children to live by. For example, if you are a dad with technology who spends hours on social media rather than family time, teens will mimic parents’ action. Therefore, if parents gravitate towards positive behaviors, that can model excellent decisions and beliefs in teens as well since children learn best by example.