1) Mom joins the teen group.
In order to make this decision, mom had to give up all her preconceptions about teenagers and take a risk. On the other hand, if you know and trust the science that tells us teens are not adults and hence cannot possibly think like adults, you as the adult know you will be able to handle however the teens may react. These are suburban teens, driven by a completely understandable teen culture. An inner city situation would call for a different approach.
This is PRINCIPLE #2 THE STRUCTURE COMES OUT OF THE INTERACTION.
2) Mom says nothing.
This decision is again based on knowing how teens think and act. And understanding how power works.
3) Finally, the teens respond. ("Can we help you with something?")
By forcing the teens to initiate the conversation, mom demonstrates that she is a master at using power indirectly, which is implicit in the LOP approach and eminently "learnable".
4) The teens' choice to ask an appropriate question (what do you want with us?") opens the door for mom to begin the process of following FROM THE OUTHOUSE TO THE PENTHOUSE ©.
Mom wants the teens and their partying out of her neighborhood. This is represented as the PENTHOUSE. In order to get there she needs to construct a communicational pathway through each specific decision she makes which of course began with #1. She has to start at the very beginning, which is the OUTHOUSE. If we look at everything mom says and does as a pathway, we are able to discern—through trial and error practice—when we have, through our communication, veereed off the pathway into the ditch (so to speak). We now have a metaphor for learning from our mistakes. Learning to follow the LOP takes practice, practice, practice because it doesn't come naturally. (If it did, raising teenagers would be a breeze). She knows she now has the teens' attention but she needs to consolidate and build her power over them. Which could disappear rather quickly unless she stays on point. So she turns to gibberish—or almost gibberish (it's possible that mom is an astrology/astronomy expert and would be knowledgeable about stars). As stated in DISSECTION, she is able to force the teens to decide what to respond to—the content or the intent (of her communication). If the teens choose not to respond (very unlikely), mom can go back to her silence. How long would a group of teens tolerate an adult in their midst who acts like it's the most natural thing in the world for her to be there?
5) As she thought they might, the teens respond to her content and not her intent. ("I don't think we quite understand").
Now mom is able to interpret their answer as a lack of knowledge or awareness. This opens the door for Mom to leave the OUTHOUSE (so to speak) and start directly down the path to her objective, the PENTHOUSE. She asks an obvious- answer question pertaining to knowledge ,experience, awareness, etc ("did you guys ever go to school?"). She refuses to be governed by conventional thinking (which is of course absolutely right) that dictates you don't ask obvious-answer questions. In building a communicational pathway with teens, we at times can't talk to them as if they are adults (because they are not) if we hope to be effective.
6) By getting her obvious-answer answer, mom begins to force the teens to accompany her down the communicational pathway towards the PENTHOUSE.
This is how indirect power works.
7) Mom continues on the pathway slowly, by mentioning learning about the alphabet ("Oh, so they taught you about the alphabet and such?")which we all have to do before we can learn to read.
8) By establishing that the kids can indeed read, mom is now free to—in effect—give the teens a glimpse of her destination—the PENTHOUSE—by asking them to read the sign. Because teens are always baffled by indirect power, they follow along.
9) Mom now shuts up.
This is a crucial step along the pathway. She doesn't go into an adult lecture or warning or admonition. (although of course she would be absolutely right if she did). She once again forces a response from the teens.
10) And, sure enough, the bamboozled kids finally ask for an adult-to-young adult answer ("What do you want with us?"). The group has asked her to show them the PENTHOUSE!
11) Now mom in effect can choose from many pathways. The closer we get to the PENTHOUSE, the more roads (pathways) we find that all go in the same direction.
12) Following the PRINCIPLES of MAKE NO JUDGEMENTS (#3) and BE RELENTLESSLY POSITIVE (#5),mom now inquires about their study of science and explains the teenage brain situation.
13) Telling the teens that the teenage brain has a hole in it is definitely not right. But it is a crucial step towards the PENTHOUSE because it is absolutely based on how teens think. And most importantly, it opens the door to discussing directly what the teens are doing (drinking beer,etc) without judgement and allows mom to remain positive. (We use this metaphor all the time in our PEER INTEGRATION THERAPY © (PIT) groups.)
Is telling teens they have a hole in their brains accurate? Of course not. It is the height of absurdity. But can teens use it as a metaphor to explain to themselves why they keep getting into hot water with adults? Absolutely. This is how they think.
Might teens use this analogy to make excuses? Of course. They're teenagers. This is what teenagers do as they struggle to learn how life works (social constraints). But look how LOP can handle such a scenario:
Teen: "It's not my fault. You can't blame me. I got a hole in my brain. You said so yourself"
Adult: "Who said anything about blaming? (PRINCIPLE #5)"
Teen: " But.but,I thought..."
Adult: Everyone knows all teenagers are crazy. (glibbersh,again). By definition. So sometimes us adults have to follow along behind you all and clean up your messes. But blame? How can we blame people who are not playing with a full deck?"
And so by using the metaphor of a -hole in-the-brain and pointing out that many adults (like those in this neighborhood) tend to forget their adolescent years (when they themselves had a-hole-in-the-brain) and so may be demanding action, mom is able to get the teens to participate with her in seeking solutions to this neighborhood problem. It's all how about we communicate...
14) If there is one thing that turns teens off it is the judgement thing. Of course there are innumerable times when we must make judgements about them. Why? Because they don't yet have an adult brain and so do what teenagers often do as they struggle to learn social constraints on their behavior. But mom has already made a judgement! Every teen in the group knows that mom has raised the issue of parking cars in places where it is against the law! But because she has done it indirectly, they have no way to avoid the issue (PRINCIPLE #10 PAINT THEM INTO A CORNER) unless they run away which they later promise not to do! This is how adults trained in LOP can pretty much manage and control teens regardless of the situation or circumstance.
15) None of us like to be criticized. And teenagers are people too, despite all the uproars they can generate. But it is almighty hard not to judge them, especially when so many of us in today's world constantly flirt with overload.
The LOP, when we can find the patience and persistence to master it, virtually eliminates teen issues as a contribution to that overload. And because it involves basic communicational theory it just may empower us to better handle other significant life challenges.
16) When we are able to constantly use indirect power with teens, as in a school classroom, we clearly become able to penetrate the teen peer culture itself and thus begin to turn it from an absolute negative into an absolute positive. This is the ultimate answer to making congregate care for juveniles (group homes, residential facilities, etc) a positive rather than a negative experience. The peer group itself can become an ally rather than an obstacle.
One of our former students, now certified in both LOP and PIT, is the Emotional Support Classroom teacher at a suburban middle school. Since most all such public schools track the total number of incidents when it becomes necessary to "send a student to the Office" (from the Emotional Support class), it is generally known that the average number of such incidents during a typical school year is about 100. Last year this educator had only 3.
When we can learn to use indirect power with adolescents, it becomes a whole new ball game...
Constructive Comments and Suggestions?
Go to email@example.com
A Program To Help You Deal Effectively with Teen Problems