PST #49: Demanding Teen to Productive Co-Worker



Many parents are struggling to get it all done with their kids home. But your kids don’t have to be a distraction or a video game playing source of frustration. They could be inspiring you to get even more done.

Imagine turning your demanding teen into a productive coworker. You could be doing better during quarantine because they are around.

The shift starts with you and that is good news. Because while sometimes you can get your kids to do what you tell them, that’s the slowest most frustrating path.

In this episode, I outline a process that you can use to shift your dynamic with your teen from hurting your productivity (think: parasitic relationship) to making you both more productive (think: mutually symbiotic relationship).

SPOILER: This DOES NOT require you to have a conversation with them about what you’re up to. This is a covert op.

Tune into this week’s episode to learn the 5 principles that you can use to make your quarantine time more productive for everyone.

If you truly believed this time could be your most fun, memory filled, productive time ever, why would you want to wait? It all starts with a free 30 minute, no pressure call. We’ll talk about what’s happening, what you wish was happening, and how to bridge the gap. Click here to schedule.


What you’ll learn in this episode:

  • Why you don’t need your kids to change for things to get better. [3:16]
  • How society has monetized parenting in a way that makes it harder for us to be effective. [4:42]
  • Why this global pause button is the perfect time to reexamine “enriching activities.” [5:50]
  • How to break free of the trap of “enriching” activities. [7:08]
  • Why “reaching their potential” is a red herring. [8:51]
  • How to teach your kids to enjoy learning without paying for grades. [11:15]
  • The faith you need to grow to make this process work. [14:20]

Get a full episode transcript:

Read Full Transcript

Imagine turning a 4 year old into a productive coworker that helps you stay on track. Sounds like a miracle right?

This NY Times article describes how the author did it.

It might feel irrelevant or too late because your teen is almost full grown, but the principles she used are applicable at any age.

Principle 1: 85% of the shift here is on the parent and that's good news

No blame. Rather a tremendous amount of compassion. Parents in the US raise kids in a culture that monetizes parenting in insidious ways and then blames the individual parent when it doesn't work.

Our culture teaches us that it's our job raise kids who reach their potential by enriching every moment. Those enriching experiences come at a tremendous cost of time, $$$, and attention. More than any parent actually has because there is no finish line of enough-ness.

No matter what I did or gave my kids, I was worried they wouldn't be able to keep up with kids who were getting more "enrichment advantages". My friends all felt the same way.

To break free of that trap, parents have to believe that what they are doing is enough. Believing that is always an inside job because our culture will always tell you that more is better.

It's good news that it's within our control because we are the only ones we have control over. Changing our kids rarely works because they don't think they need changing. We are our own best bet.

Principle 2: "Reaching their potential" is a red herring.

I worried that my kids weren't getting what they needed to "reach their potential" which would mean I failed them as a mom. Only later did I realize "potential" is a red herring because your potential is a constantly moving bar.

There is no "reaching your potential" until you take that big dirt nap at the end.

If you don't learn to enjoy the process of learning and growing for it's own sake, you can't teach your kids to enjoy it. Learning and growing is the whole point of the teen years and if you're not enjoying it, you are going miss out on years of creating good family memories.

You'll rely on willpower and external rewards which you never quite feel like you have enough of. The best way to describe it is "unhappy journey's don't have happy endings".

Turns out that annoying motivational mug was right.

Principle 3: It takes a lot of faith to parent this way.
Faith in yourself. Faith in your kids. Faith in the world you are sending them out into.

Growing all that faith may be the biggest struggle.

Passing that kind of faith on to your kids may be the biggest benefit.

Principle 4: Good parenting is a 2 way street

When you get to the bottom of the article the author realizes that her 4 year old is helping her stay on track writing and off social media.

Take that in for a minute. She went from being her daughter's full time entertainer to being reminded by her 4 year old to get off social media because this was writing time.

Letting your kids teach YOU things is something I work on with every single client. Clients resist, saying I don't know their kids. From now on I'm using this 4 year old as my example.

It's empowering for kids to be the teachers. Better for their self esteem than a shelf full "good jobs" and participation trophies. When it's real, kids know it and it's the best.

Plus it takes the pressure off us to have all the answers which is both exhausting and impossible. We can't have other people's answers. Even our kids.

Principle 5: Now is always a good time start

You could be doing better during this stay-at-home time because they are around. Even if your teen seems to be 24/7 hiding out in their rooms.

The principles are the same, only the circumstances in which you apply them are different. These are counter cultural ideas worth exploring and now is always the perfect time to do start. ❤️

If you truly believed this time could be your most fun, memory filled, productive time ever, why would you want to wait?


Featured in this episode:

  • Here’s the NY Times article I mention in the episode.
  • Learn more about how you can create a more productive relationship with your teens.