Waltzing with Wolverines by Mark Andreas, for anyone managing tweens-teens

A terrific, unusual book on leadership and/or parenting for parents of tweens-teens

Mark is the son of two famous NLP innovator-trainers. I believe Mark views leading teens open a window on how he was raised as a child — in such a way we too can learn and benefit from his experience.

Because Marks’ book promotes an active, Self-led, form of leadership, with lots of humor, surprises and improvisation, his approach skews towards to fathers; and, to workshop leaders of both genders.

Do motherly approaches to tweens-teens exist? Indeed they do. For parenting books written from an empathic, female point of view, see Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Aldort, a classic NVC parenting book. NVC has more like this.

Even tho Mark mentions and uses NVC at one point, Mark’s book is a more masculine, with-it, comprehensive, on-top-of-things approach. In a wilderness setting, taking care of teens’ feelings is NOT his only or highest priority. The dangers of snow, heat, bears are also factors.

Tho mark does not mention Rudolf Dreikurs nor Jane Nelson, Waltzing with Wolverines returns again and again to explaining natural and logical consequences to kids, so they can make their own choices and know what consequences their choices will have. It may be Dreikurs-Nelson is somewhat now subsuming into NLP?

Avoid power struggles ~ The author has a question for you. What % of your conflicts with your tween-teen are power confrontations? These struggles are defined by one or both parties believing only one side can win; and, one side must lose. Confrontation. Mark says, I realized there is no power struggle, control battle, unless I agree to take a side opposed to my conversational partner.

Befriend resistant teens on the level of their needs (and physical safety if relevant).
If you fall into a power struggle, Mark has many practical suggestions for how to get out of it. Among them:
1). Be curious. Ask them, “What is it about my request that troubles or upsets you?” When a kid resists, easiest way to side-step a power struggle is to be curious and say, “I hear you. What are you needing, tell me.” If he or she does not know what they need, ok to guess what they need, make suggestions of needs, if you identify their need correctly, they will let you know that’s it. Then you have a conversation about how to get their needs and your needs met. Win-win. (NVC people, note the part about guessing feelings is optional in Mark’s approach).
Kids may respond to simply feeling their objections are listened to.

2) Exaggeration ~ You can go into mock horror or throw a mock tantrum. In a loud voice, repeat their objection more forcefully, with more words, more detail and more gross imagery.

3). Exaggeration: Display over the top positivity ~ “You don’t have to do task X. You GET to do task X. You are the Chosen One. No one else on Earth could do this task and God has told me you are the only one who can do this task, and benefit from it. When you are done, I want you to write down what you did, because I want you to pass on to your children how your did task X so they can learn from your excellent example; then, pass it on to their children for the next generations (watch out, any sarcasm will kill this).

Parents get into power struggles with teens because they take compliance as a test of their competency as a parent. If you step out of this belief, you can inform kids of the Normal and Natural Consequences if they don’t do task X. This is like positing a Higher Power (my phrase, not Mark’s) a power higher than either one of you personally. Teens who wish to ignore the higher power of Consequences — still get all the consequences of ignoring it.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store