MomsOnMonday: Prep for Parenting Your Modern Family

Posted on April 22nd, 2013, 0 Comments

Reframe: Manny Vies with Luke for the Phantom Lead

Season 4, Episode 14 (Rebroadcast from 2/6/13)

The Framework

Tonight on “Modern Family” Luke and Manny are involved in a play – a middle school production of “Phantom of the Opera.” And both take some risks and stretch their comfort zones as the lead changes from one to the other.

When the student star gets mono, Manny initially lands the lead.

Cam: I’ll need a “phantom” for this rehearsal.
Manny: I guess I could help.

Then we learn that Luke, who’s been painting sets, can sing better. And Manny, determined to keep the lead, plays on Luke’s peer fears:

Manny: Look at the bright side. What if you don’t screw up, humiliate yourself, and get mocked forever.
Luke: Get mocked?
Manny: Only by the cool kids. But who needs them. You’re one of us now: the theatre geeks.

With that, Luke refuses to sing. In the end, however, he does take the lead. And, as Cam puts it, he sings like a nightingale.

(Click here to see the original post.)

Flipping the Frame: My Notes

Teens are biologically set to seek out thrills and take risks. In fact, brain changes tracked by neuroscientists suggest that teens’ reward systems (unlike those of younger children or adults) seem to bias their choices and decisions towards the thrill even if there is risk involved. (You can read more about the teen brain here. These brain changes evolved to spur this age group to leave a safe home and increase their range of experiences so that they’d learn new skills and make new discoveries about themselves. Which is all well and good.

But there is a potential downside. Our teens’ developmentally driven craving for trying new things can lead to boredom. And there’s a growing consensus that dangerous risk taking increases when teens are bored. For example, researchers have found that kids ages 12 to 17 who are often bored, are 50% more likely to use drugs and alcohol. Add a wad of cash ($25 or more a week of spending money) and those bored kids become 3 times more likely to use.

The good news is that the risks our teens are hardwired to take don’t have to be destructive ones. And that’s where we come in. We can stay connected to our teens and redouble our efforts to encourage them to try new things and test their limits in constructive ways. We can help them take…
Life risks that include social ones like joining a club, emotional ones like asking someone new on a date, and physical ones like rock climbing or skateboarding.

School risks that include academic ones such as taking an AP course or learning a new language, athletic ones such as going out for a sports team, and extracurricular ones such as trying out for a play (like Manny and Luke did) or running for student council.

Community risks, for example volunteering to help the homeless, mentoring a younger child, and leading by starting a small business or charity.

Teens say that their parents have more influence than anyone else when it comes to their decisions to challenge themselves with the right kind of risks. And when we help our teens find meaningful opportunities to push their bodies, expand their minds, and nurture their spirits, we are helping to satisfy their craving for trying new things that test their limits. In the process we’ll deepen our connection with our teens and reduce the chances that they’ll get into trouble with destructive risks like drugs and alcohol.

Sources: (CASA, 2003; Teens Today, 2004)

Flipping the Frame: From My Life as a Parent

My son was a thrill seeker. He was hooked on the adrenaline rush that comes from a close call. I saw this aspect in him early on. When he was in elementary school I’d sometimes watch him play basketball in our driveway with a neighborhood buddy. And if he got too far ahead as they went one-on-one, I’d see him sit back a bit and let his opponent catch-up. Now don’t get me wrong. My son liked to win, but he liked the thrill of a close game better.

He sought out close calls off the court too. At age 12 he’d saved enough of his birthday money and allowance to buy a mountain bike (and the mom required helmet). After that he spent a part of most weekends riding down the steep trails and jumping the logs that crossed his path in the North Carolina woods near where we lived.

Then we moved. Of course we brought his bike with us. But there were no steep trails near enough for regular riding.

It would be awhile before I’d realize how important those steep hills had been to him…

Flipping the Frame: Your Parenting Experiences

• I’m really glad that Phil ended up attending Luke’s performance. And I was delighted when his grandfather also showed up. Showing up is one way to encourage our teens to take positive risks. What other ways have you found to support your teen’s participation in these activities?



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