Tandy Rice is one of my Nashville favorites. He is best known as the head of Top Billing talent agency who managed Jerry Clowers to national prominence, but that’s not the main reason I love him. He bought my lunch on one of my Nashville trips but that’s not the reason. The reason I love Tandy is that he is a caring, insightful person.
One of his responses to one of my columns made me decide to tell you some things we are doing wrong with our teenagers.
In response to one of my columns Tandy told about seeing a teenager on the beach wearing a tee with the message, “Please Ask My Opinion.”
Parents don’t ask for their teen’s opinions because they are afraid. They realize time is running out on their chance to make this kid just like them. They are desperate to pound a little more of themselves into the savage beast before he/she walks finally out the door to face the world. .
I know all parents are not that way but far too many are. Their main program is control and force-feeding.
Tandy wrote, “I don’t think my opinion was ever asked as a kid. I certainly never questioned anything. Just did what I was told.”
Our whole approach to relating to a child must change the moment they hit puberty. Up til then, they have been parent-centered. Suddenly the main people they relate to are other teenagers. For better or worse, they draw most of their values from their peers. If your main way of relating to them is to preach, lecture, threaten and cajole, you have most likely just lost a child.
As one comic humorously said, “At puberty, your child begins learning adultery.” He meant adulthood but there’s an element of truth in the comic’s mistake.
As with any adult, once they hit puberty they will become a partner or adversary of the parent. The only way to make them a partner is to ask their opinion about issues. It’s fine to state yours but if you slam-dunk them for theirs, they won’t bother to tell you the next time you ask.
Teachers seldom ask a teens opinion because too many of them see their role as pourers of facts rather than stimulators of curiosity. It’s a similar syndrome as the one with parents. They are there to simply pour facts into heads they view as empty. All teens already have plenty going on in their heads and unless a teacher realizes and relates to what is happening therein, they will be nothing more than a big bore to these semi-adults.
Parents and teachers do not meditate on what is going on in the heads of the teens. To ask their opinion is laughable. I mean, my shallow Americans, the “Leave No Child Behind” legislation requires these little robots to be constantly tested to see if the can parrot barrels of facts. That legislation should have been called “Leave No Child With a Behind.”
I have often wondered why an old semi-illiterate Baptist minister had such a profound influence over me in my teens. He did more than anyone to get me off a self-destructive path.
One day it dawned on me. Because he was almost illiterate and I was literate, he treated me with respect and I began to act respectable. He wanted to know my thoughts on everything we discussed. Take away that respect he had for me and he would have been just another head-hammering adult.
He allowed me to use his Olds 88 every time I went to church with him. One night he said, “You have over 20 days built up to use the car. Why aren’t you using it.”? I said, “Brother Hubert, I’d rather stay here and sit up at night and talk to you.”
My heart bows in gratitude at the thought or mention of his name.
This material should be treated as copyrighted by the author and/or IPS Features. It should not be reproduced without authorization except by individuals for non-commercial use.