Wellness Pearls

25 January 2018

Parenting Teens with 3 Strikes

You cannot step into the same river twice.
Heraclitus [Philosopher 544 BC – 483 BC]

Parenting teenagers forces us to operate in unknown territory. I have found it to be complex and ever changing. It is not intuitive and what works in one situation or kid, doesn’t work in another. Parenting forces us to be dynamic, flexible and friendly towards the future. Some time ago, I was given the advice to allow/expect my teenagers 3 chances to do really wild, or destructive, dumb, dangerous and even illegal (victimless) “incidents” that they got caught doing. Once three incidents occurred, we could then declare a pattern has developed and a different intervention would be needed (e.g new school, therapy, military etc) .

This “3 strikes” approach allowed me to relax, keep the warmth and find the funny. Giving kids ages 13-18 three passes to make huge mistakes creates needed psychological space and freedom for the teen and the parent(s). It creates a way to support their autonomy, to promote learning from failure, to fail better next time. Part of their developmental work is to give up some of the “good child” and let more of the “rebellious child” out. We are weeks away from the youngest turning 18 and he still has 2 strikes left……. here’s to a quiet and steady presence with those teenagers.

If somebody is gracious enough to give me a second chance, I won’t need a third.   Pete Rose


7 Responses

    1. Eileen O'Grady
      Eileen O'Grady

      HI Rose: Of course I remember my kids were little. I am sure you are doing amazing things and so wonderful to hear from you. Eileen

  1. rose

    I remember seeing one of your children during a video conference at Pace. Your. youngest already 17? Hard to. believe. Wonderful words of advice and appreciated by this mother of four adult children. Breathe, laugh and encourage their growth. BUT. recognize if there is a problem. Be well. Love to read your posts.

    Rose Moran-Kelly,

  2. Oh this is wonderful! Three strikes is a great way to think of this. What I like is that your child who still has 2 strikes left probably did not need them specifically because they were already available!! Perfect!

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