Honoring Adolescents and Adolescence
Designed for adolescents, parents and schools
Adolescents are the keen, brilliant minds and personalities that will create, lead and support our world’s future. They possess immense potential to live into the myriad possibilities that will come to them. If you watch the encouraging news sources, it is clear that already they are generating inventions and ways of thinking that bring deep hope. They are showing the world what is possible. Leadership capacities are already being manifested.
While many live in confidence and in the light of who they are, statistics show that anxiety, stress and suicide are on the rise in the adolescent population, leading to outcomes that too often end in grief. We cannot ignore this reality.
It is time to provide places and conversations that turn that tide. I believe it is a time of significant opportunity and I am committed to having a role. I want to join with others to be mindful and proactive to change the statistics, and more importantly, to be part of changing lives.
I relish opportunities during these formative years to honor, affirm and offer up resources to adolescents, first and foremost, to know themselves and learn to live confidently and robustly out of who they are at the core of their being. It is in the knowing WHO they are that will steer them to WHAT they choose to do in their lifetime. One of my goals is to shift the question “What do you want to be?” to “Who do you want to be?” Only when in resonance with their personalities, strengths, gifts, values and passions will they be not only productive or “successful” but most of all, fulfilled.
Full presence of and support by adults in their lives allows the “growing up” process to evolve and mature with freedom, grace, joy and the understanding adolescents long for. It is also true that if we begin at the very beginning, when children are in their earliest years, we can shift the tide. We must do this in the company of each other.
I am committed to engaging in this work through the following options.
Whether in large or small groups, I use an interactive speaking style with students, parents or faculty and school administrators. While I bring my own wisdom and topics, having worked with all constituencies for 35 years, I work with whoever is hosting an event to make sure we create “what’s needed now.”
While the focus here is on adolescence, I am passionate about speaking to parents of children of all ages. The younger the conversations begin, the stronger the relationships.
I believe 150% that bringing coaching into schools and/or coaching through an agreement with individual parents provides a safe, confidential, affirming space for students to ask questions and learn how to create their own answers and solutions with a coach alongside. It is different than therapy or counseling; all serve a purpose. I believe it is time to bring coaching into schools to complement therapy and counseling. As I have witnessed remarkable awareness and shifts in children and in young adults through my leadership coaching, I believe more than ever that coaching provides the opportunity for adolescents to take ownership for who they are and what they want to be. It is exciting to be in the experience with them and watch them create their own “resource kits” that sustain them in both the high points and the low points.
While it goes without saying, I am very clear that should anything come up in coaching that calls for a different type of work or intervention, it is understood that confidentiality cannot be promised. This is stated up front. It is my ethical responsibility to bring anything beyond the scope of coaching to the attention of the appropriate adults.
Work with adolescents is best engaged in when the conversation is occurring simultaneously with the adults in their lives. While this can be done through speaking, it is of highest value when together in seminar formats of 90 minutes to three hours. Freeing adolescents, opening metaphorical hands to let them fly to develop into who they are meant to be brings up many topics for reflection by the adults in their lives and calls for deep presence and commitment. Several topic examples of many:
- Intentions and impact
- How to raise a child by honoring that her personality and learning profile are quite different than that of an adult in her life.
- Owning responsibility for decisions, which means that helicopter and lawnmower parenting by and large disappear (and, by the way, bring great relief to the adults when they do)
- Responsible social and friendship choices
It is valuable to be in conversation across the table, to brainstorm together, to share stories together, to lift each other up in this desire and goal for children to thrive. It takes time and attention and ushers adults into offering confident support and loosening the reins bit by bit. I maintain that all current adults wanted the same from parents and teachers when going through adolescence and yet that is easily forgotten when all of a sudden in the parent or teacher role, which brings up conversations about empathy and remembering.
This is energizing, rewarding, life-giving work and I hope you will join me in its important place in our current culture.