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Good Teens Start With Good Beans
raising kids was like making coffee; the choice of parental partners would
be like choosing the selection of coffee beans; pregnancy would be like
the care that goes into roasting the coffee; the first few years of family
life would be like choosing the style of coffee maker; ages 6 to 12 would
be like the brewing stage; and finally, the teen would be like the coffee
in the pot.
choosing a parental partner, like choosing coffee beans, choice is
everything. You can go with a single make of bean or a blend. Some blends
work more easily together than others. If the blend is complex, then more
attention may be required when roasting or at the other stages of the
production process. The point is not to necessarily avoid the blend, but
to plan in advance for the differences in production that may be necessary
to accommodate the blend. (In reality all parental partners represent a
the past, most coffee was percolated. However, now we know that
percolators, automatic drip, French press, espresso machines, and more,
can make good coffee. Each style of coffee maker yields a slightly
different flavour, even if the selection of beans remains the same.
Further, each coffee maker requires a different set of instructions. So
too with raising kids. Depending on family circumstance, different care or
procedures may be necessary to develop healthy well-adjusted teens.
Children from underserved areas or financially burdened situations may
need extra attention from school or social services to compensate for
other hardships or deficiencies. Meanwhile, children from privileged
situations may need help to gain a greater sense of community
responsibility and awareness of those less fortunate than themselves –
so as not to become over-flavoured in the end.
brewing stage, like kids 6 to 12 years old, is when most folks step back
and let the machine do its thing. So what ever is in place by this age
sets the tone as the machine churns away. The beans were long since
collected and roasted and the coffee is now in the particular roaster. All
subsequent activities, events etc., are thus carried out within the
context of the bean, the roast and the coffee maker. Knowing the choice of
beans, how they were roasted and the kind of coffee maker, we can predict
the end flavour of the coffee.
for whatever reasons, there is a problem with the production process,
different corrections can be made at any stage to still yield a favourable
end result. However, depending on the stage of production, only certain
corrective options are available. You cannot “unselect” coffee beans,
nor can you “unroast” them. However, during the roasting process, some
corrections can be made, much like opportunities of in-utero procedures to
correct medical or physical conditions. If the coffee is brewing, but the
coffeemaker is not working properly, you can look into getting it fixed,
or even changing roasters mid brew. Either way, things will hopefully be
better, but you have to know the final brew may never be quite the same.
The experience will shape the taste of the coffee. If there is parental
conflict or other social problems, the situation can be repaired or
changed, yet some effect may remain with the children. The goal is to now
improve a situation that was proving to be harmful or at least proving to
not fulfill the potential of the child.
the time the coffee is in the pot, there are fewer corrective options
available. If the brew is bitter, sugar may be added, if too strong,
perhaps milk. But, the basic flavour remains. It is most difficult to
tinker with coffee once it is in the pot as compared to making changes
along the way.
The moral of the coffee story is this: Good teens start with good beans. Consider all aspects of the production process, or in childcare terms, the developmental needs of your kids. Do so and you will have a better likelihood of well-adjusted teens. If problems occur, take corrective measures as early as possible. It’s never too late to intervene, but early interventions make for better outcomes.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
For information on Direnfeld's book, Raising Kids Without Raising Cane, click here.
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