Saturday was APSGO's annual conference, and it was truly stellar! From choosing a venue to choosing a keynote speaker and workshop presenters, Robbie Rossi, ably assisted by Karen Nash, organized one of the best APSGO Conferences I've ever attended. The location was easy to get to, the room was spacious and beautiful, the meal was fabulous, and the information presented was unforgettable. Well worth the price of admission. Thank you to both of you, and all your assistants, for putting this together.
The raffle wouldn't have been possible without the capable assistance of Maureen MacNeil and Laura Gilroy. Although Brampton had taken this on, we were ill-equipped to deal with this without their help. Thank you! And thank you also to the Brampton group who worked so diligently both on the raffle, the silent auction, and the fixed-price table.
Thank you also to all the presenters for so generously sharing your time and hard-earned wisdom with us. I heard from participants of workshops I'd been unable to attend, and everyone came away with something useful and lots to think about.
A special thank you to Helen Jones who presented not only an inspiring keynote address, but two more practical and thought-provoking workshops. Helen, after 9 years, I'm still taking notes!
Last but not least, thank you to everyone who bought or sold raffle tickets, contributed to the fixed-price table or silent auction, helped out in other ways, or showed up and helped to make this what I think was one of the best conferences ever.
Finally, some unexpected good news: Maureen MacNeil has agreed to run as president of APSGO. She has been a member of APSGO for longer than most of us can remember, and remains active both in the Aurora group and on the Board. Maureen is capable, practical, and seasoned as a Board member, and I'm looking forward to having her at the helm. Thank you for taking this on!
Credibility Trumps Power
In her keynote address, Helen Jones expounded on the difference between credibility and power, and why credibility trumps power every time.
Although we can't control our teens, we can influence them - but only if they view us as credible. So what do we do that diminishes our credibility with our teens, with others, and with ourselves?
We squander our credibility in several ways:
Making rules for others - The problem with rules is that we can't enforce them. All we can do is punish those who break them. As a result, our teens' creativity, rather than being channelled into positive, life-enhancing areas, is channelled into getting around the rules and avoiding getting caught.
The argument is sometimes made that, without rules, our society would go to hell in a handbasket. But it's not rules that make our society safe. It's the values we live by. For example, I drive on the right-hand side of the road, not because it's a rule, but because I'm less likely to injure myself or someone else, and that matters to me.
Insisting parents be on the same page - This makes power part of the structure of the family. It also sends a clear message to the teen: "Not only am I in authority here, but it's two against one." Not being on the same page provides parents with a golden opportunity to demonstrate respect, to teach their teens that two people don't always have to agree in order to get along. "I won't be giving you any money, but I know your dad's always happy to give you some." "Homework doesn't really matter to me, but it's a big deal to your mom, so I think you should discuss that with her."
Asking questions when you have no way to verify the answer - "Where are you going?" may not provide you with any useful information. Try instead, "Be safe. I love you."
Being rigid - Parents tend to think that changing their mind is a sign of weakness and indecisiveness. In fact, it can be quite the opposite. Changing our minds lets our teens know that we're fallible, that sometimes we make mistakes, and that we're capable of rethinking our decisions. It might sound something like this: "I know I said you were grounded for the next month, but I've been thinking about it, and I don't think that would be a good idea for either of us."
This is not the same as copping out or simply not following through with a decision, which in fact reduces your credibility.
If you want to teach your teens values, demonstrate those values by living them, not just talking about them. If you want them to be honest, don't cheat on your taxes or keep the extra change the cashier gives you. If you want them to be respectful, show them what that looks like by respecting your friends, your family, your co-workers, the mailman - and especially your teen.
Note: When you comply with "orders" from the teachers or principal at your teen's school, you're letting your teen know that they are your boss, and that they
direct your parenting. Don't fall for it! Advise the school and your teen that they'll have to sort out their differences between themselves - "And thank you for all you do on my child's behalf."
When we ask, "Where are you going?" or "Is your homework done?", we're investing in our teen's material needs.
When we open up the discussion to values, beliefs, effort, and ethics, we're investing in their psychological needs.
Better Skills, Better Plans, Better Results, Less Time
This is What You Get:
- A Template for Plans that Work Always!
- A Template for Working with Anyone!
2012 November 3rd and 4th
To register and get more information:
Groups that have had training:
Guelph, Aurora, Brampton, Mississauga, Etobicoke, Burloak, Ajax
This is what they had to say
- 'I truly learned so much, I feel like a new (and better!) person.'
- '...know that you have made a huge impact....'
- 'I feel much more confident helping parents.'
- 'Knowing the right questions to ask makes it easier to develop plans...'
- 'I could see the questions I posed made them really think.'
- 'Although I had been a small group leader for several years before taking your coaching training course, your program helped me gain the confidence to help coach parents to come up with effective plans, regardless of how difficult their situation is.'
- 'I used to get nervous about helping people under certain circumstances but your methodology helped me realize that all situations can be improved...'
- 'It enabled me to 'rethink' my whole approach to leading the group.'
THIS IS THE ONLY COACHING TRAINING
RECOGNISED BY APSGO FOR USE IN APSGO GROUPS.
The 3 Most Important People in Your Teen's Life
This workshop was a surprise even for me! So who are the 3 most important people in your teen's life?
- Their employer
- Their landlord
- Their bank (teller, loans officer, bank manager, etc.)
These are the people our teens will be dealing with for the rest of their lives. These are the people who decide to employ them - or not, to rent to them - or not, or to lend them money - or not.
This is worth keeping in mind as parents, because those people won't make excuses for our teens. Either they measure up or they don't. Either they show up and get the work done or they don't. Either they pay the rent on time or they don't. Either they pay their bills on time and improve their credit or they don't.
A note on disorders: Those with physical disabilities want to be treated, as much as possible, like everyone else. Those with "disorders", however, expect special treatment, which compounds the problem, because they believe everyone will treat them differently - and they won't.
Do you care about your teen enough to prepare them to be independent?
Here's how it works:
Our teens are dumb when they want us to do something for them.
And our teens are smart when they want it and know we won't do it for them!
Discrimination of lowered expectations:
"She's working, and it's enough that she buys her own clothes and bus fare."
Working with the experts
This was the most useful portion of the workshop for me, because this is where Helen pointed out yet again that the real experts in our teens' lives are us.
We've been taught that teachers and principals, social workers, therapists, doctors, psychiatrists, and CAS workers are the experts. The truth is they're not. In fact, they know little or nothing about our teens or us. Most of their "authority" comes from books, and they certainly don't have the experience that we've acquired over the years.
The experts have less experience than we do, and they have less power than we think they do, and that we so readily hand over. Did you know you don't have to let a CAS worker into your home just because they ask to do a home visit? The only time you have to admit a CAS worker is if they have a warrant.
Here's the overriding and oft-repeated message:
You don't have to campaign to be your teen's parent.
You already have the job.
So what does this mean? It means that you don't have to convince or prove to anyone that you're fit for the job. You already are your teen's parent. Period.
My court experience
When my eldest son was 15, he was charged with truancy. True to form, he failed to show up for court. But I was there, and the judge asked, "Why isn't your son here?" I replied, "In the same way that I can't make him attend school, I can't make him attend court." After a brief shocked silence, the judge said, "Right. I get that." Apparently this was new information!
You call the shots!
A mother of 5 in our group was meeting weekly with her entire family and a couple of CAS therapists to work out their differences, but the 1-hour sessions had become all about "Let's bash mom," and she was pretty distraught.
I asked her why she was volunteering for this abuse, and she just looked at me dumbfounded. So we talked it through, and she came up with a plan.
Five minutes into the next meeting, she said, "Clearly this is turning into another mom-bashing session. So I'll just go have a coffee and pick you up in an hour."
The room fell silent. No one spoke. No one breathed. The meeting ended shortly thereafter, and a CAS worker phoned her a few days later to let her know the file had been closed because clearly the family could manage fine without their help.
Yes, you really can be the authority in your own life!