Parenting with Tranquility, Empathy, Integrity, and Authority
Restoring a cooperative relationship with your challenging teenage son, while mentoring him to be
more respectful and responsible both to himself and to others.
I Was Challenged To Unify My Family
When I was fifteen, I began studying yoga through the teachings of Swami Rama at the Himalayan Institute in New York. Among the many things he taught me about living an enlightened life was that I could be a “householder yogi” – a person who understands that his family life is an integral piece of his spiritual life, not separate from it.
I was surprised to hear that my true happiness could evolve in the home by remaining loyal to my personal growth while helping the other family members realize their true potential.
I had two children by the time I was thirty years old. It took all of my focus to meet the challenges of raising children, maintaining a marriage, going to chiropractic school full time, working part-time to make ends meet and finding time for my own personal health and happiness.
Believe me - I made many mistakes as a father and husband.
My challenging teenage son and daughter taught me that my "old school" methods of parenting were not working. Yelling "I told you to" or "Because I said so" did not get them to do anything. Instead, it only further alienated them from me. Of course, I loved them more than anything in life and wanted nothing more than to be close to them. Being rejected by my own children was really painful.
My wife, Suzanne, and I divorced when my children were really young. If I had the relationship skills and knowledge that I have now, I would have done a better job trying to keep my family together. The first few years of our divorce contained lots of anger toward each other. We had lots of fights about how to raise the kids.
I Figured Out a Way To Reunite Our Family
By creating The RIGHT Way Method® for Family Unity, I was able to guide my family to the point where we've celebrated years of intimacy and devotion to each other's well-being. Now, at 63 years old, I'm thankful to have what my son Gabe (33), daughter Becca (36), former wife Suzanne (I can't tell you her age!) and I call a “successful divorced married family" – we are sharing our lives together.
For the past 15 years, I've successfully applied this method to thousands of young men and their parents through my experiences at the Young Men's Ultimate Weekend (www.ymuw.org), through seminars and through private coaching with difficult, defiant and even oppositional young men and their parents.
With gratitude, I watch these families as they enjoy more peace, trust, cooperation and love in their homes.
The Roots of Family Challenges
For hundreds of thousands of years, mankind has been challenged to successfully relate to our physical and communal environment by working with whatever mental and material tools were available. By thinking and behaving with the virtue of Curiosity, humans were able to overcome adversity and improve their personal, family and communal lives through the creative process of Adaptation.
This required people to work together and to become accountable and responsible for their personal well being, as well as the good of the clan. They accepted the adversities that life presented to them, adapted accordingly, creatively improved their conditions and celebrated, with gratitude, whatever they had.
Our Ancestors Figured out How to Parent Young Men
The result of communities living cooperatively was that specific virtues were held in the highest regard and became the Way or Path for tribes to guide their children how to behave. This ensured future peace, productivity and, ideally, prosperity.
The adults applied their Way to the raising of boys and young men. The parents, relatives and community members recognized the personal virtues each boy had. They taught the boys how to channel their energy and virtues to foster their personal growth and to contribute to the clan. The boys became young men by undergoing a formal initiation, bringing them responsibilities and prestige.
Why It's So Difficult Nowadays To Raise a Challenging Son without a “Way”
These days, parents must compete for their son's attention with the constant pressures of consumer commercialization (constant selling), digital domination (screen time) and healthcare industrialization (over-medication). Additionally, many young men are forced to sit in classrooms to learn information, when they really need to be outdoors or engaged in other interactive settings to learn in a way that is more conducive to their biological make-up.
Research clearly shows that, when under stress, young men are much more likely to suffer from hyper-activity or withdrawal than young women.
Without a “Way” to move your life and family in the right direction, parents become anxious and fearful about the future and act out their concerns with inappropriate behaviors. Parents do the best they can to help their teenage sons prepare for the future, but the sons often blame the parents for not showing them how to calmly and clearly handle their transition from boyhood to adulthood.
Conflict and hardship are the result. When there's a challenging, difficult, defiant or oppositional teenage son in the home, it makes it hard for anyone to live a happy and productive life.
How The RIGHT Way® for Family Unity Will Help You
The RIGHT Way® for Family Unity recognizes there is no one right way for parents to have a successful marriage, a cooperative divorce or raise resilient, happy children. The RIGHT Way® recognizes there is no one right way for family members to be physically healthy, mentally clear and spiritually content.
The RIGHT Way® is a method that quickly helps the parents find a Way that is right for them, so they can confidently lead their challenging teenage son to enjoy a life filled with positive beliefs and productive behaviors. This Way is founded on your own virtues, values, beliefs and behaviors, not the ones that other people think you should have (Truthfully, this method works with most teenage daughters as well!).
The RIGHT Way® for Family Unity integrates ancient family wisdom with the sciences of adolescent brain development, parent bonding, personal growth and stress management. It's a concrete, proven system that shows parents how to prevent problems with their pre-teens and how to restore caring and mutually beneficial relationships with their challenging teenage sons.
The method also mentors young men to become more responsible for their health and happiness.
You Already Have the Intelligence to Transform Conflict into Cooperation
I know you love your son and I know that you want to teach him, in order for him to do well in life. But giving your heart and imparting your wisdom in a way he can receive it is a whole other story.
This method avoids complicated psychological concepts and parenting theories. Instead, it teaches you how to clearly define, communicate and instill your values with your son, while helping him discover his own values. The process then transforms everyone's values into positive beliefs and productive behaviors.
Equally important, it shows you how to skillfully reduce your authority and increase your influence (choices) to guide your son. It shows you how to skillfully let go of the authority (yes/no) you're supposed to be naturally losing, and how to increase your influence (give choices), which normally replaces authority, with his age group.
Even Difficult, Defiant And Oppositional Teenage Sons Have Responded Favorably To The RIGHT Way®
WHY? Because it helps you stay calm and remain true to your values while honoring your son's natural biological instincts, development and wisdom.
THIS IS KEY: it shows you how to let him safely release his life’s frustrations (about you, others, school, etc) in a way that allows him to move past his immature, boyish behaviors.
THE GOOD NEWS: What often happens when you learn how to handle his anger is that the "good' son you used to know starts showing up more often because he feels seen and heard at a deep level.
Until your son feels safe to reveal his fears with you, you probably won't be able to help him channel his endless energetic impulses into a greater focus on developing the attitudes and skills he'll need to become successful in life.
The RIGHT Way® Method Creates Personal Growth for Everyone
(when everyone is feeling more connected to themselves, they're more likely to want to help others)
Simply stated, The RIGHT Way® is a personal growth method that helps people at any age move closer towards achieving their true potential. It's a guidance system that teaches people how to be true to themselves at the deepest levels they're capable of perceiving.
From the time I was a teenager, I've wanted to be deeply spiritually happy. I vowed that I would find a way to do this (in Buddhism, I took what's called a Bodhisattva Vow). By the time I was in my early 20s, I learned that by helping people find their way, I was led deeper into discovering, developing and mastering a Way that was right for me.
This method was created from my desire to provide people with a personal growth model that highly respected, but minimized, the need to rely on other people's wisdom for physical safety, mental clarity, emotional security and spiritual well being. While encouraging people to receive insight from others, the method helps people integrate what they've learned into their own innate intelligence.
In other words, it helps you find your inner teacher and tap into it any time, so that you can relax, trusting that you'll always make the decisions that are right for you.
How Does the RIGHT Way® Work?
Fifteen years ago, when I started adapting this method towards improving family dynamics, I had already been spent years helping thousands of my patients using The RIGHT Way® for Personal Growth. The method guided them to enjoy not only greater physical health, but mental clarity and spiritual well-being as well.
While there are a number of important elements that makes the RIGHT Way for Family Unity so effective, essentially, the method simply requires all family members adapt what I consider to be five powerful universal Virtues.
I chose those Virtues that could best help people convert their issues of poor health, mental stress, self-doubt and relational conflict into a meaningful lifestyle that creates remarkable wellness and rewarding relationships.
What Does R.I.G.H.T Stand For?
The RIGHT Virtues and Values are:
Respect -- esteeming with reverence
Intelligence -- applying intuition and experience into wisdom
Grace -- engaging in heartful acts of courage and courtesy
Humor -- celebrating with amusement and gratitude
True -- living life with integrity
These five virtues are then used to find the answers to the biggest challenges parents and sons routinely confront in their homes. When applied properly, these five virtues (and their related values) allow parents and their sons to mutually benefit from more caring and cooperative relationships. With all family members working together to have a more peaceful home, parents enjoy more love and young men are better prepared for a life of happiness and independence.
I know it seems too good to be true that five words can help you and your son remember how much you love and need each other. If you commit to using them the way I will show you, you can expect to see an improvement in everybody's behavior immediately.
Men and Women Are Different
An important part of this work comes from the acceptance that men and women naturally have different gender virtues that are needed to raise all children. For example, a positive male virtue is Leadership and a positive female virtue is Nurturing. This is not to say men and women can't have both of these virtues. Of course they can.
This simply implies that men tend to offer direction and ideally, provide a confident, grounding presence that helps the family trust that they are doing the right things. Women tend to offer emotional security and, ideally, provide a loving, accepting presence that allows everyone's feelings to be safely expressed.
When mindfully combined, parents have a much easier time working together to activate their son's biological need to individuate.
Are You a Mother Parenting Alone?
I frequently work with mothers who are divorced and are not co-parenting with a new partner, or may be married to a husband who does not display stabilizing virtues, like clarity and confidence. It's sad for me to hear how they feel worn down by having to play the role of a strong man.
They tell me how harsh it is to have to be so intense and insistent with their challenging teenage sons. It's really painful to hear how they feel like their romantic life suffers because they don't feel like an attractive woman.
The RIGHT Way® for Family Unity relieves you of the stress of having to play the "father" and it shows you how to take good care of yourself first!
Are You Worried That My Approach Is Too Mellow, Too "Touchy-Feely"?
This method does not focus on one extreme style of parenting – whether being too restrictive or too permissive. Rather, based on your values, it helps you find the right balance of style. It is both soft and firm, relaxed and focused, expansive and contained.
The RIGHT Way® for Family Unity:
* allows for exploration and maintains clear boundaries
* supports the parents to engage in meaningful conversations with their sons and never negotiates the values they want to instill
* allows for passionate and (occasional) loud communication and insists on intelligent and respectful relationships.
* encourages emotional vulnerability and maintains leadership stability by the parents
* recommends playfulness and readiness to successfully adapt to the challenges of life
* focuses on personal growth for the son and teaches him how to make it in the world
* maintains a calm home and directly handles the toughest issues
* relies on inner wisdom and mentorship from others
* helps young men deal with behavioral problems and expects them to act appropriately
* eliminates unenforceable rules and requires choices and consequences
* accepts instinctual reactions and promotes virtuous responses
* allows for mistakes and expects everyone to quickly return to behaving respectfully
* prevents you from controlling your son and allows you to contain him
* maximizes your son's self respect and minimizes punishments or rewards
The Three RIGHT Forces that Transform Your Son
These three Forces activate the intelligence of the parents to use the five virtues of The RIGHT Way: Respect, Intelligence, Grace, Humor and True. All of these forces are "in play" in varying proportions at any one moment. Knowing when and how to use them will give you the tools and confidence you need to have a relationship where you and your son give each other what you both want and need.
1) TENDER LOVE
This type of love maintains a heart-full connection with your son using Respect and Grace (courtesy)
2) TOUGH LOVE
This type of love maintains a considerate connection with your son using Respect, True and Grace (courage)
3) TEACHING LOVE
This type of love maintains a mentor relationship using Intelligence and Humor
I know that most of you have heard of tender love and tender love, but have probably never heard of "teaching" love. I use this term when instructing parents to let go of the mindset that they still have a young boy and that they need to constantly be directing his life. I use this phrase frequently because parents need to act as mentors with their challenging teenage son if they want things to change for the better.
It's the job of the parents to teach their son what they need to know, so that the son can confidently and happily leave the nest. In a different era, the parents would have the readily available assistance of other family and community members to raise their teenage son. Now, parents need to find the right mentors and tutors to give their son the best chance to become the man he always wanted to be.
All of the tips and techniques from The RIGHT Way® for Family Unity draw upon these three forces.
The Biggest Obstacle to Getting It RIGHT with Your Challenging Teenage Son
It's been my experience that, by far, the Number One reason that parents don't have better relationships with their sons is that they simply can't let go of relating to him as a young boy. I'm not saying that parents don't do their best to ensure that their son turns out right as he gets older. We are parents – we're biologically and illogically driven to want their success. We can't help ourselves.
Are You Making This (Well Intentioned) Mistake?
Unfortunately, what I have been observing lately are parents who over-provide and over-protect their sons, even as they complain that they're behaving immaturely and immorally. Parents react to the constant onslaught of commercial consumerism by making sure that their children have all the latest digital devices to "keep up". Worse, the parents feel hurt when their children are not thankful or respectful as a result of their purchases.
Parents also keep their sons dependent on them because they are emotionally over-attached to them. Holding ontothe son for this reason either causes him to become challenging or strongly contributes to his withdrawal from you. He then doubts your ability to guide him, causing him to challenge your leadership abilities. Not good.
What I think is happening in today's era of information bombardment and high paced movement is that parents are losing touch with their “primal parenting brain”. They're losing the ability to innately change their style from parenting to “mentoring” (or “Teaching Love”). What results is an ineffective overemphasis on tender love and tough love. This causes frustration and mistrust for everyone, because these two types of love are not enough to keep the attachment strong.
When I instruct parents how to implement the motivating force of Teaching Love, they learn how to use these four Virtues to wake up their son's desire to figure out how he can take greater care of himself in young adulthood:
Vulnerability – helping a young man experience the freedom of owning his weaknesses and emotional wounds. This will equip him to make safe the feelings of others through his own willingness to be open.
Humility – providing a young man opportunities to contemplate the Awe of a Creator and/or Creation. This will equip him to understand that he is not the ultimate authority of his or other people’s existence.
Invincibility – allowing a young man to experience his primal instincts and strengths while knowing when and how to turn on his sense of fearlessness. This will equip him to accomplish what he needs to do until he gets it done.
Reliability – supporting a young man to continually remain true to his highest values and behaviors. This will equip him to trust himself while earning the respect of his family and friends.
In this day and age, parents have to know the exact way to relate to their son so that he can feel like he's getting the tender love he needs. And parents have to know the exact way to deliver tough love, so that the son can feel like he's being motivated, not humiliated,
How Come I Know So Much About This?
I made ALL of these mistakes. In part, I acted out of guilt, because of the divorce, and in part because I was fiercely determined to minimize my children's suffering. Probably, like you, my biggest parenting fear was having to admit that I did/didn't do something that could've prevented my child from having a painful physical or emotional experience.
The RIGHT Way® IS A GREAT SOLUTION FOR PARENTS. IT REALLY WORKS BUT IT REQUIRES YOUR ACTIVE COMMITMENT.
The Ultimate Secret to Parenting a Challenging Teenage Son
What I'm about tell you is a paradox. A paradox occurs when two different things are equally true at the same time. Paradoxes require mental maturity in order to completely accept and successfully adapt.
In order to lead the family in a way that young men will respond to, parents will need to practice applying two opposite virtues: involvement and indifference..
On the one hand, you'll need to give your best to knowing what's happening for your son in every part of his life and help him grow up happy, healthy and holy. On the other hand, you'll need to give your best to being unattached to the results of your efforts, to give him 'the space' he needs to fail and win.
The ideal is to be willing and able to be engaged in every aspect of the son's development AND be willing and able to let go of your need to be appreciated and approved by the children.
The Benefit of This Paradox
Practicing parenting this way will decrease the likelihood of you becoming physically or mentally ill from the emotional stress of having to have your son turn out the way you preconceived that he might, or should. The benefit to your son is that, while he gets the right type of attention (involvement), he's also challenged to get in touch with the parts of his brain that knows how to survive (indifference).
What I'm Asking You to Do Is Almost Impossible
Simultaneously mastering both involvement and indifference is not easy. You have to want it. You're competing with biological, educational, social and commercial forces vying for your son's attention – girls, school, drugs, hobbies, exploration, friends, digital devices, alcohol, etc.
Like with any endeavor, persistent practice will bring continued improvement. When you give the right effort to this, you'll have the best chance of getting what you want with your son: a strong, caring lifetime connection that gets better every passing year.
Here's How You Do It
You'll need to let go of all expectations. I'm not telling you to lower your standards (values and behaviors) or not give your best effort to raising your son. However, your underlying expectation feels like a constant demand, creating anxiety in your son. He feels ashamed that he's letting you down and he feel stupid because he can't be good enough for you.
Because he doesn't yet have certain parts of his brain fully developed, he doesn't know how to express this horrible pain in a socially acceptable way. So the best thing you can do is be true to your values, teach him how to develop his values, show him adult skills, and share your money judiciously EXPECTING NOTHING IN RETURN.
The Greatest Reward for Getting It RIGHT
Here's where raising a challenging teenage son and the phenomena of paradox provides the best feeling parents can possibly experience.
Parents have a natural guidance system that tells them when to skillfully relax their biological attachment to their sons and how to help them discover who they truly are, behaviorally, psychologically and spiritually. As parents master their ability to let go, their sons will feel closer than ever to them.
In fact, they'll never leave you. These gallant young men will always want what's best for you and do their best to take good care of you as you get older.
The greatest reward for loving your children unconditionally is to have them loving you unconditionally. What emotional high feels better than that for parents? Absolutely nothing – from what I can tell.
Imagine a Peaceful and Cooperative Home
Parents who can gracefully accept the need for young men to explore, examine and experiment are honoring their urges to individuate from the family. When your teenage son can depend on you to successfully guide him through his evolutionary unfolding – biological (hormonal and neurological), spiritual (virtues and values), psychological (beliefs) and social (behaviors) – he'll want to do the right things.
You can actually live with a challenging teenage son who:
* adapts to his challenges with an accepting attitude & healthy behaviors
* knows how to have mutually beneficial relationships
* has a gallant disposition toward sexuality
* respects himself enough to minimize peer pressure
* respects others enough to avoid bullying
* is comfortable with vulnerability for himself and others
* can ask for help
* wants to make intelligent life choices
* knows how to safely express his personal and male virtuesThe RIGHT House
Let's Face It: in this world, there's lots of suffering – for you, your spouse and for your teenage son. I've watched lots of families rekindle the Virtue of compassion and help each other successfully overcome their toughest obstacles in life!
You can live in a home where everyone's lifestyle nurtures mutual respect and a natural desire to share each other's mental and material resources. Imagine walking into your home, perhaps after a hard day at work, where everyone is grateful to see each other.
THIS IS DEEPLY FULFILLING: This foundation of trust from your son will allow you to challenge your son in a way where he can respond with authenticity and analytical intelligence. And you'll prepare for an emptier nest in a way that organically softens the pain of letting go because you did it in a way that humans have been using for hundreds of thousands of years.
What's True for Me
No matter what modern society might think intellectually, successfully raising challenging teenage sons does not have to be rocket science. I believe parents and young men always innately know how to help each other develop their values, respect each other's beliefs and support each other's productive behaviors.
Helping families get reconnected to their personal and shared inner wisdom is the greatest reward I receive for my lifetime commitment to community Service. I love Family. Everyone who knows me knows that's true.
Paradoxically, being in a family is the craziest thing you can do and it's the coziest thing you can experience. Go figure!
I'm convinced that when parents and their sons have flourishing relationships, the world will be a much safer and more prosperous place for us all.
MY BLESSING & GUARANTEE:
If you get your mind right - accept the challenge of parenting your son using this method - you will eventually adapt successfully. As long as you are willing to fulfill your biological parenting drive to help your children, you'll discover it's never too late to move your family in the right direction.