I’m the parent of a teenager now. Our daughter, Abigail, will be starting the 8th grade next week and it’s amazed me how much change has taken place in the last year. Simply incredible! If you have a teenager – or lived through that stage with one – then I’m sure you can relate. Not only are they physically maturing, their likes and dislikes are changing right along with their personalities. One of the biggest challenges isgetting them to do what we ask them to do, especially when it’s good for them.
Abigail has always tested very high on standardized tests when it comes to listening. When we read through The Chronicles of Narnia, all seven books, then restarted the series, she amazed me when she asked me to reread a section. I reread a sentence and she said, “I don’t remember that the first time [we read the book].” Bear in mind, we’d read the book months before and she picked out one word she didn’t remember hearing the first time. I share that so you’ll know, she’s got great ears and ability to listen – when she wants to. Therein lies the parenting challenge.
One day I came home and she’d left to spend the night at a friend’s house. Unfortunately she left the house in total disarray. There was Sloppy Joe mix still in the pan, Mac ‘n Cheese in the pot, dishes in the sink. I called her, read her the riot act and told her there would be a consequence when she came home. Moments later I received a text saying she was sorry and offered up her phone as punishment. I thought, “The criminal doesn’t get to set their sentence,” so I came up with something much better!
I had a book I wanted her to read over the summer, Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. If you’ve not read it I highly recommend it. Frankl was a Jewish psychiatrist in Germany when WWII broke out. He survived three years in four difference concentration camps and wrote about his experience from a clinical point of view. My take away from the book was this; no matter what’s taken from us, no one can ever take away our freedom to choose where we will place our thoughts. With that power we are free and can endure almost any hardship. I thought that would be a valuable lesson for Abigail to learn early in life.
When she got home I told her no TV or computer until she read the book. Of course she didn’t like that but I reminded her the discipline would be short if she buckled down and read it in a day or two. On the other hand, it could last quite some time if she dragged her feet and complained. She got through the book in about three days and then we talked about it. Now I have a point of reference when she complains because her “hardships” are nothing compared to Frankl’s.
This blog is about influence so you might be wondering how I’m going to tie this into influence. Here’s my influence strategy – I told Abigail next time she disobeyed it would be another book of my choosing. As you can imagine, we don’t share the same taste in books. She’s into the Twilight series and my preferences are more inclined to learning and self-improvement. I also told her I would set out the next book as a visual reminder. Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive is sitting on the dining room table as I type!
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes!”