Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Parenting Teenagers Course (Week 2) "Meeting Our Teenagers' Needs"

Week Two of the  Alpha "Parenting Teenagers Course" was as helpful and interesting as the first week, which I blogged about here. Having previously done their Marriage Course, and Parenting Children Course, we are very familiar with the format, approach and content of these courses; but I think that this "teenagers" one is the most slickly presented and easily accessible of any of their materials so far put together. It may be that as they go on, the get each course more finely honed, and have tweaked the presentations to make them progressively more user-friendly - either that or we are enjoying this course especially because it is so pressingly relevant for us at the moment!

"The Five Love Languages", Gary Chapman's easy how-to guide to practical other-centred emotional intelligence, plays a part in each of Alpha's 'Family Life' courses - so it was no surprise to find it here in the teenagers course. Of course, having hosted the Marriage Course so many times, we are very familiar with each other's "language" - but again taking some time to think through our teenager's needs was time well spent. One interesting point made is that while married couples can (normally) communicate their feelings to each other, and young children emote all over the place - parents' on this course were encouraged to make themselves available, and accessible at whatever time or place the teenager feels most comfortable speaking - as many find it very hard to do so. Again, as in previous courses, the interviews with parents and teenagers were insightful in this.

This lesson was re-enforced in the 'communication' session in the second half of our evening together. Tweaking the "active listening" or "reflective listening" techniques we have practised on the Marriage Course to the particular communication needs of teenagers (in general) and ours in particular will clearly take a lot of time and sustained effort.

The only weak point (we felt) in the whole evening was the suggestion of practising the listening techniques, as a role -play. While doing the listening exercise on The Marriage Course works well, because there is no play-acting or embarrassed pretence; the suggestion of role play leads to embarrassed shifting about in seats and awkward silences. A unanimous decision was taken to move on! 

Busyness and Bank-holidays have meant that we haven't got to week three yet. Next week we hope to pick up again, as we move onto the next critical area "setting boundaries". I have to say that sometimes courses like this can make me feel like a failure - when I think about some of the mistakes we make with our kids. On the other hand, they really do help to focus the mind and help to point in the right direction for progress. Talking to the other parents in the group-discussion times, who are a few years ahead of us in this parenting-teenagers business has also been hugely encouraging and informative. Bring on week 3!

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