So there you are with all of your University friends relaxing around a lovely coffee table with your Mocha Frappuccinos. Each of them regaling the others about their little Einsteins:
“My Timmy founded a dot com company that’s going public!”
“My Nora just made CEO of that famous social thing, you know the one.”
“Bobby found a cure for cancer! But the tobacco companies bought it from him and shelved it. The money’s good though…”And through your gritted teeth, and about-to-crack-your-face smile, you finally scream out: “My kid is an alien pot-smoking teenager!” Heeeeeeeeeeeelp!!!!
Well, in your head anyways.
Out loud you say: “Isn’t that special! You must be so proud” and then suddenly remember the imaginary pot roast you left unattended at home.
You are not alone. Thousands of parents are sitting around similar real or imagined coffee tables picturing the same scenario. You have joined the panoply of parents of Alien Pot-Smoking Teenagers (APST).
It’s seems odd because you remember the times when you look at your child and all of your fond memories come flooding back. The first time they looked you in the eyes, their first smile (that wasn’t gas), the first time they grabbed your finger with their little fingers curled around you, and your child’s first step. Little did you know that that first step would lead them on a downward spiral towards becoming the alien pot-smoking teenager they are today! (Insert mental picture of the Creature from the Black Lagoon holding a bong here).
Why Alien? Do you really need to ask? Does anything they say or do sound like something someone from planet Earth would really do or say? What about those bizarre thought processes or lack thereof?
Pot-smoking… OK, not really pot-smoking as much genuflecting at the “Altar of Kush” (their words not mine). The procuring ritual, the prep ritual, the setting alight the object of their desire, the devouring of ho-ho’s and ding-dongs (oops, Cheech and Chong flashback there)… you get the picture.
What happened? How did we get here from there and where do go now?
It all began…
The early school years were the place where parents told kids how “magic” they were. Their crayon drawings should be in a museum, being chauffeured to their friends video game get-togethers, and every sport participant getting a prize. For most of these kids, minimal effort brought marks that they were OK with and tons of prizes.
Then, one day, maybe grade 10, maybe first year University, they discover that they aren’t “magic” anymore. For the 12 kids who said: “Gosh, I’m not magic anymore. Maybe I should look into proper study habits and pull myself up by my bootstraps”, this article isn’t for them.
But for all the other kids, their false epiphany to “Gosh, I’m not magic anymore” was to decide the world is not safe. “So, if I choose to fail and I do, then I’ve won”. So begins the slippery slope to self-sabotage.
So many troubled teens seem willing to self-sabotage every aspect of their potential future; not participating in class, not doing the required studying, staying up late, sleeping most of the day away and then missing school. For quite a few, these behaviors are accompanied by excessive video gaming and / or substance abuse… aka the Wonderful World of Weed.
The most frustrating part of this is that these same people are often very gifted in some ways and yet here they are ….. stuck.
There always seem to be plenty of blame to throw around; the kids, the video gaming industry, Dave Chapelle, parents and yes, we occasionally blame the educational system as well.
So many teachers are doing such good work in school these days and those special teachers really can make a difference. Teachers have made great strides in helping students with all sorts of learning challenges and mental health issues, but how can teachers know how to work with people who don’t submit papers, don’t show up to class and believe that a day (week?) never speaking to a teacher is time well spent.
Many teachers believe that intervention, therapies, or counseling teens will do the trick and for some it does.
But for a growing group of troubled teens, traditional counseling methods do not work.
In my years of mentoring troubled teens and training others to mentor teens, it has become clear to me that the keys to success with these teens where other methods have failed are methods that have worked for thousands of years; mentoring young adults.
This is also true about your APST (alien pot-smoking teenager). Given a chance to find their best and shown a method that works for them, 95% of these teens we mentor grab onto it and soar!
Here is the interesting part: In the 16 years that I have been mentoring young adults, I have never told a client to stop smoking weed and yet the majority of them quit smoking completely, with a portion of them becoming “weekend warriors”.
This is the process that led them there:
The Five Stages for Mentoring Young Adults:
1. Tribe – Having other adults to speak with and get feedback from.
2. Tasks – Encouraging the young adult to choose their goals
3. Ritual – Learning the power of daily routines that are meaningful
4. Reflection – Non-judgmental self-discovery
5. Right of Passage – The transformation from child to adult.
In my next blog, I will go into the details of the five stages, how they can work for your APST and how to choose the ideal Mentor.
Oh and please don’t bogart this article. Share it with friends, family, and Chapelle too!
Know a Millennial in need of mentoring? Check out www.MentoringYoungAdults.com
Interested in mentoring Millennials? Check out www.MentorsProfessionalWorkshop.com