What’s the Point of Doing This?… The Teenage Mantra

So, you’ve asked your teen for the 400th time to do whatever.
You scream in front of their “friends”. Your yelled back at. Doors are sent slamming and just as the door is about to close you hear the words: “What’s the point of doing this anyways!!!”

I was just Skyping with one of my younger clients who seemed to have the nervous habit of tapping continuously at his keyboard while we Skyped. When I occasionally asked why he was doing this, he responded; “I’m not doing anything! I just like to tap.”

One day, he tapped the wrong button on his laptop and the sound of a snorting beast being zapped by a space ray filled the room. So there you have it, the “moment of truth”.

(First, confirmation)
Me: So, you’ve been playing this game for the last six sessions while we’ve been Skyping?
Skeeter: Well, not all the time.
Me: Most of the time?
Skeeter: Yeah. Pretty much. It’s so addictive!
Me: I can understand that. But, you’ve been telling me that you weren’t doing anything, right?
Skeeter: Yeah.
Me: Can you see where I’d have a problem with that?
Skeeter: I guess.
Me: What do you think the problem with that is?
Skeeter: ‘Cause I was lying?
Me: And what’s wrong with lying?
Skeeter: It’s …. Bad?
Me: Why is it bad?
Skeeter: I dunno.

(Time for left field)
Me: What do you know about Abraham Lincoln?
Skeeter: He looked weird, he became president. He got shot.
Me: True. Do you know anything about his life?
Skeeter: Nuh-uh.
Me: When Lincoln ran for president, he was an unknown and considered a “hick”. He was running against three of the greatest hopes for the presidency yet it was he who won. One of those men, Stanton, wrote about the new President’s choices as “the painful imbecility of Lincoln.” Yet, Lincoln saw a greatness in Stanton that would help the country and brought him into Cabinet.

When Lincoln was assassinated it was Stanton who said: “There lies the most perfect ruler of men the world has ever seen. Now he belongs to the ages”.
Lincoln was a man of great character that even his detractors could recognize.

(The Point?)

I’m not going to ask you every time if you are still playing that game anymore.
I’m just going to ask you one thing.
Skeeter: What’s that?
Me: Do I have your word of honor that you won’t play the game while we work?
Skeeter: Yes.
Me: Longer, please.
Skeeter: Yes, I give you my word of honor.
Me: That’s all I need. I know I don’t have to worry about that again
(And Skeeter never did play that game during our Skype sessions again).

So, why do I tell you this story?
Because there is no answer to “why should I bother!”
There is only the opportunity to find some way to challenge a young person to want to be a person of good character.
I don’t know why we don’t champion that in daily life anymore but let’s start.
Share with me an example of how you inspired you child to be a person of good character.

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Author: Ken_Rabow

Ken Rabow is the Mentor's Mentor for Troubled Teens, Young Adults and their Families