The Key to Breakthroughs With Your TeenagerMay 25, 2023
This idea has popped up multiple times over the last week so I took this as a sign that I should share it in a post.
The key to big breakthroughs is staying the course even when the progress is hidden.
Here are a couple of examples that illustrate this point.
This story came up during an interview between Ed Mylett and Jay Shetty. Ed shared the example of a pinata at a children’s birthday party. You can picture it… can’t you. The colorful paper mache unicorn is hung from a tree limb in the backyard. All of the kids know that it is stuffed full of candy and their job is to break it open. One by one they take their turn. With the blindfold on, they swing with all of their might hoping to release the treasure. After 5 or 6 of the kids have taken their turn, not only is there no candy, their efforts seemingly have had no impact. The unicorn looks just like it did when they started their assault. Some of the kids are starting to get frustrated by the lack of visible progress. Some may even lose interest and move on to something else, not recognizing or believing in the hidden progress that has been made by the group's efforts. But then it happens. On the next attempt, the youngest kid at the party hits the pinata with a weak blow and it bursts open, spilling candy all over the ground. Interestingly, the child that takes the final swing is celebrated as a hero. The provider of the big breakthrough. But was it really his blow that broke the pinata open?
Another example comes from a documentary I watched several years ago. This was the story of Hootie and the BlowFish. For those of you who are not familiar with this name, Hootie and the BlowFish was a band that had several hit songs in the late 80s and early 90s. During the documentary the lead singer, Darius Rucker, made a comment that made a lasting impression on me. The person conducting the interview noted how they burst onto the scene with their hit song “Hold My Hand”. He then asked how it felt to have overnight success. I will never forget Darius’s response. He said “Yeah, it only took ten years for us to become an overnight success.” Another example of how a breakthrough that seems to have happened overnight is really the result of years of unnoticed or hidden progress.
So how does this relate to our efforts as parents?
I invite you to keep these stories in mind when you start to get frustrated or upset about your teenager’s uninterested response when you talk about the importance of doing their best, helping around the house, having integrity, keeping their room clean, or being kind to their younger siblings. Continue to model the principles, values and beliefs that lead to a life full of peace, joy and purpose. While sometimes it may feel like you are fighting a losing battle, just like each strike on the pinata or each night Darius played in a small town bar to 3 people, you are making progress. Then one day, seemingly out of the blue, your teenager is going to do something that surprises you in a good way. And you are going to say to yourself, “How about that … I guess they were really watching and listening.”
Your Family Enrichment Coach,