Teen Relations Newsletter : by Klaus Klein MA, RCC http://ezezine.com
1) Feature Article
To Pick Up The Gauntlet Or Not
--Letting Teens Struggle With The Uncomfortable
Feelings Of Growing Up--
2) Take-A-Hike Presentation in China Update
3) Parenting Group Update
1) Feature Article:
To Pick Up The Gauntlet Or Not
-- Letting Teens Struggle with
the Uncomfortable Feelings of Growing Up--
In medieval times to throw down the gauntlet
is to issue a challenge to someone else.
If the opponent picked up the gauntlet it meant
the he accepted the challenge.
The gauntlet that Hal Runkel refers to in his book,
“ScreamFree Parenting” is about how teenagers
will throw down a gauntlet or challenge to their parents
to start an argument. Just as it was in medieval times,
as parents we have choice whether we pick up that “gauntlet”
How Teens “Throw Down the Gauntlet”
Teens will often “throw down the gauntlet” by testing,
challenging, and lashing out towards their parents or
other adults as a way to distract from their own inner
struggles and discomfort.
It may be hard to accept, but by pushing the buttons of
their parent and getting a reaction is at least predictable,
familiar, and safer than working through the unknown territory
of responsibility, accountability, and showing more maturity.
It is not easy growing up during the teen years. Adolescents
often struggle with feelings of anxiousness, worry, embarrassment,
guilt (yes they do feel guilty at times – but often will not show
you this), nervousness, sadness, anger, and so on.
Teens also struggle with wanting instant gratification, in other
words, relief from the discomfort of growing up and being responsible.
As a Parent You Can Choose to Pick up the Gauntlet or Not.
As parents we have choice whether we pick up that “gauntlet” or
accept the challenge for an argument that only distracts from
the issue at hand that needs to be dealt with.
As a parent you need to stay in an almost “business like mindset”
staying focused on the real issue and not the emotional reactivity
of teens or yourself. This is not easy to do, but with practice
and experience over time you will be leading your teen to just
where they need to go for growth and responsibility. You do this
by repeatedly choosing to NOT pick up the gauntlet. You must
become comfortable with allowing your adolescent to be
uncomfortable with a situation, rather than allowing them to
distract from the issue by trying to start an argument.
An Example of a Parent Who Didn’t Pick Up the Gauntlet
Recently a parent in my parenting group (I’ll call him “Mathew”)
related a story how he found himself in a situation with
his son Ben, that could have escalated into an argument or
even an out right yelling match via text messaging. This is
something that most of us as parents have experienced in
different forms at least a few times while raising kids.
In this situation the father, Mathew, sent a text message
making a request that Ben return an item he had borrowed/taken
from the home without permission that belonged to someone else.
Ben sent a reply message to his father stating in strong terms,
with a certain choice words for added impact, how his dad, should
“mind his own business,” “stay out of it” and “stop meddling”, etc.
When Mathew received the message he felt the temptation and
justification to fire back an angry comment to such a
disrespectful and foul message.
But wait …
– Mathew paused himself before reacting to his son's message
in an angry way. Instead he took stock of what was going
on for Simon in the bigger picture.
Here’s a break down of what Mathew did upon receiving
the text message:
-- Mathew remembered to think of himself as the adult
in the situation and that he needed to be in charge of his
-- Mathew could see that his teen son was having a
reaction to the message requesting to return the borrowed/taken item.
-- Mathew decided not to react to an already reactive teen.
This does not mean that he was saying Ben's disrespectful language
or behaviour was excusable. He was simply choosing not to make
matters worse by reacting to it angrily.
-- Mathew made a decision to address his son’s text message at
a later time. A time where he could respond with clarity and calm
authority instead of being caught up in an emotionally reactive
situation. As well, Mathew wanted to address the issue of the reactive
text as a separate issue from the original issue of returning a
-- Mathew let his initial text request to return the item stand on
it own. He did not respond to the reactive text at all. No chasing his
son down or further messaging.
-- This parent saw that letting the son struggle with his own reaction
was the best thing to do at that time.
The short term result:
Later, when Mathew was ready to address the issue of the foul
written message from the son, to his great surprise, the son took
the initiative and apologized for his behaviour of sending such as
text. The parent listened to his son apologize and take responsibility
for the text message. The “borrowed” item was also returned and the
The longer term result:
This parent shared with our parenting group his joy and feelings
of power due to controlling his own reaction. He reported that
he changed his relationship with his son in this situation. He
was actually able to bring his son closer rather than reacting
and pushing him further away.
What could have so quickly blown up into a full-fledged reactive
argument was avoided and channelled into a positive outcome.
Mathew could see that the text his son sent was actually a gauntlet.
Ben’s reaction to being in an uncomfortable situation was to
“throw down the gauntlet “ as a way of avoiding being held
accountable for the decision to “borrow” an item without permission.
Mathew, however, did not pick up the ‘gauntlet’ and get caught
in a diversion argument.
Not Picking up the Gauntlet Leads to a More Responsible Child
The more you as a parent can do what Mathew did the more your
teenager will be challenged towards growth and responsibility.
Your teen will also trust and respect you more when you don’t
get caught into reactive emotional arguments, and instead set
firm limits with a rational mind.
Every situation you find yourself in with your teen will be unique
and require your judgement as to how to react. Not all situations
will end this smoothly. However, by pausing first and remembering
to choose not to “pick up the gauntlet” will be encouraging your
teen to be uncomfortable with what happened. It sets up a greater
chance for a more positive and mature out come in the long term.
2) China Trip Update
From October 28th until November 5th I was in Beijing China
participating in a level 2 Satir Model Therapy training workshop
lead by Dr. John Banmen.
During part of the morning of day 3, I was given time to present
to the group on working with troubled teens in a high school
based setting. The presentation specifically gave an overview
of the Take-A-Hike Program system as a whole and how the
therapy component is integrated into this public school based
The participants were very keen and enthusiastic about such
a school based system for troubled teens. There were numerous
people asking many questions about what we are doing at the
Take-A-Hike Program and how we work with a teen population
where other school systems have failed.
The Take-A-Hike Program has been incorporating and using
the Satir Model Therapy with students for over 13 years.
The TAH system has a holistic approach which includes academics,
outdoor adventure-based learning, therapy, and parent involvement.
3) -- Parenting Group
I will start a new parenting group at the End of January 2014.
It will run Tuesday evenings Jan, Feb, March, April.
At John Oliver Secondary 41st and Fraser.
Time: 6:00 - 8:00
Exact dates will be finalized in the next 2 weeks.