Strong Words for Parents & Teens

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to share a couple of controversial but critical parenting tips.

First a quick update:

“Stop being your child’s friend?”
Professor Jean Twenge (Associate Professor of Psychology at San Diego State University) in her second book “The Narcissism Epidemic – Living In The Age of Entitlement” warns parents to stop being their child’s best friend. But why is this behavior dangerous for the child’s development and are there other seemingly innocuous parental styles that harm children? Listen to my conversation and interview with Dr. Vicki Panaccione, Child Psychologist and founder of The Better Parenting Institute as she elaborates what is dangerous parenting, what is healthy parenting and the real role of a parent. In the enlightening and at times frightening conversation, Dr. Vicki also warns parents about the dangers of “inappropriate seductiveness”; creating anxiety in children; seeking their children’s approval; expecting the child to fulfill the mental and emotional needs of the parent and; sharing a bed with a child.

To listen to my interview visit Radio-Interviews.

Now, let’s talk about a few other specific tips and strategies for parents and teens.

The latest studies into abuse in relationships reveal that one in three teens is abused in a relationship. The Chris Brown and Rihanna story has further highlighted the need to address domestic violence and violence on women. Brown (age 19) is alleged to have beaten and bitten his girlfriend during an argument inside his rented car that landed her in hospital. It’s alleged that he even held her head in an armlock while driving and hitting her.

Domestic violence is not limited by economic, cultural, educational or geographic factors. According to a new survey by the Boston Public Health Commission, nearly half of Boston-area teenagers say Rihanna (age 21) was responsible for Brown’s alleged attack.

The survey of 200 Boston youths age 12 to 19 found that 51% said Brown was to blame, 46% said Rihanna was to blame, and 52% said both were to blame for the incident. In addition, 52% said the media were treating Brown unfairly, and “a significant number of males and females” surveyed said Rihanna was destroying Brown’s career.

The conclusion from these statistics is that children have learned that violence is an acceptable and appropriate response to a domestic disagreement and that it is OK to hit a woman. But unfortunately that finding isn’t limited to teens. A survey in the UK suggests one in five people think that it’s fine for a man to slap his wife or girlfriend if she’s wearing sexy clothes in public while fourteen percent of adults think that it’s ok for a man to hit his partner if she’s nagging him. Years ago, in Australia, when I was a journalist, I recall a study that revealed that women thought it was OK for a man to hit her if she deserved it or provoked it.

How have we arrived as a society at the point that we think it is OK to hit a woman?

Obviously there are multiple factors that determine and shape our beliefs, morals and values. One of the primary and dominant causes is our childhood programming. Our beliefs about how to respond to arguments and disagreements begin as children. For example, what did you see and witness as child and what did you conclude about how women should be treated? Chris Brown saw his father abuse his mother, and he innately copied his father. This does not in any way justify Brown’s actions but it illustrates the point that children learn by modeling their parents and by listening to their language and thus, adopting their belief systems. This is what I call “emotional hereditary disease.”

Thus, it is up to parents via their own relationship to be the role models to their children as well as to teach their boys that it is not OK to hit a woman and teach their girls not to accept being hit. If you are a mother and you have someone in your life who is abusing you, please be aware that you are preparing your daughter to be abused when she grows up and/or you are preparing your son to have explosive anger via feeling helpless because he cannot stop it or equally bad, you are preparing him to accept that women expect and accept being hit during disagreements.

The mother and father must each show respect for themselves and to each other in order to teach the same to their children. Telling your children one thing while doing another does not work: children will first copy a parent’s behavior before heeding his or her verbal advice.

This leads me to my next point. Last week, auditions for Tyra Banks’ “America’s Next Top Model” turned ugly when a stampede broke out amongst a crowd of 10,000 people in New York, injuring six people, with two rushed to hospital. The point: girls are seeking idols instead of role models.

It seems that for many young women, the priority and emphasis has now become stardom, fame, fortune and false adoration. Society has created idols in the form of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie –women that are placed on pedestals not only for doing and contributing nothing positive but for living the lavish, princess fairytale lifestyle. My humble advice and suggestion is for parents to encourage their daughters to seek role models rather than idols.

I know that our instant reaction is to blame the media, and yes, it definitely plays a huge role in influencing teens perceptions and perspectives but, study after study reveals that parents are the primary determining factor in their children’s belief systems, values and morals. Teach your children to consider role models such as Princes Diana who prize and value giving and helping others over celebrities who favor consumerism, materialism, fake attention and glamour. Of course, the bad example begins with parents, particularly those adults who are focused on still being an adolescent in all of its forms – vanity, hedonism, self-indulgence, irresponsibility and the desire for eternal youth.

This leads to the third point for both boys and girls: shift the emphasis away from instant gratification to hard work and rewards; away from greed to fairness and integrity; away from selfishness to helping and contributing to others.

Add your comments and questions to my blog and read my past Success Newsletters, if you have received this newsletter as a forward and would like to receive all of my newsletters please enter your email address on the home page.

I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

Facebook Comments



4 replies
  1. Avatar
    Gary Morgenstein says:

    They say marriage is forever, till death do us part, but that really applies to being a parent. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful son, who we adopted, who had some “moments” during his teen years. Sometimes you would say, are we loving him too much or not enough? How do you define tough love? I think at the end of the day, you do what it takes. Whatever it takes. As a novelist, these emotional footprints inspired me to write “Jesse’s Girl,” just published on It’s about a father’s desperate search for his troubled teenage son, who has run away from a Montana wilderness treatment program to search for his biological sister in Kentucky. I think the depth of this fictional father’s love and determination, as well as his fear and anger and doubts, will resonate with parents since all of us have felt this at one time or another, whatever the circumstances of their child’s individual issues. You can’t feel guilty for how you feel. But as long as you keep believing in them and hope they eventually believe in themselves, most important of all, you’ve got a shot.
    Below is the press release.



    New York – How much should a parent sacrifice for a troubled child? In Gary Morgenstein’s taut new thriller, Jesse’s Girl, the answer is – anything. Anchored around a floundering father-son relationship, finding roots and re-uniting vanished bonds, the timely novel about teen addiction and adoption follows a desperate father’s search for his son, who has run away from a wilderness program to find his biological sister in Kentucky.
    Available exclusively from, Jesse’s Girl opens as a jarring phone wakes lifelong Brooklynite Teddy Mentor well after midnight. It’s the Montana wilderness program saying that his 16-year-old adopted son has vanished – and they haven’t a clue where he’s gone. Only two weeks ago, Jesse had been taken to the program by escorts to deal with substance abuse problems.
    Jeopardizing his flagging PR job in New York, Mentor rushes across the country to find Jesse, who is off on his own quest: to find Theresa, the sister he’s never known. When Teddy finally discovers Jesse at a bus stop in Illinois, he is torn between sending him back or joining his son on a journey to find this girl in Kentucky. He decides to go. They become embroiled in a grisly crime when Theresa’s abusive husband Beau attacks her – Jesse stabs the big beast of a man, leaving him for dead.
    Given Jesse’s misdemeanor criminal record, Teddy can’t go to the authorities without risking his son’s arrest. However, Beau is not dead, merely wounded, and he hunts them down, thirsty for revenge. Teddy, Jesse and Theresa flee across the Bluegrass State with Beau in hot pursuit. Seeking safety but finding trouble, their story leads them to an ultimately shattering question: is Theresa really Jesse’s sister or has he been scammed?
    Gary Morgenstein’s previous novels are Take Me Out to the Ballgame and The Man Who Wanted to Play Center Field for the New York Yankees. His latest novel Loving Rabbi Thalia Kleinman, a romantic triangle about a divorced middle-aged man who falls in love with a beautiful rabbi, was just published on His play Ponzi Man played to sell-out crowds at a recent New York Fringe Festival.


    • Avatar
      Patrick says:

      Dear Gary,

      First, I honor and applaud you for expressing love to an orphan child and adopting him as your son! What a wonderful gift to give him.
      You are right that the relationship between a child and a parent almost always outlives a marriage because even when one of the parents passes, there will still be a relationship between the living parent and the children. Further, there is a bond between a mother and a child that cannot be duplicated in any other relationship primarily because the mother is the one who gave birth and therefore the connection is always powerful and impactful. Having said that I look forward to the way you will describe and reveal the father’s love for his son in your book. Too many people fail to realize the power that a father can have on his son and a mother on her daughter. In many “primitive” cultures, there are rituals performed by the father and son that help the son mature into manhood. Some of these rituals involve the son going off on a long journey on his own where he will face fear on many levels and have the opportunity to face himself and his demons.

      I am looking forward to reading your book and experiencing through the father’s eyes and ears his pain and journey as he seeks his son and what they both will encounter and how they will transform. And if I am guessing right, then I guess we will hear a lot of your experiences through the father in your book.
      I wish you the best with your book and your message.

  2. Avatar
    Cher says:

    Well done Patrick! How very true that so much is gathered in the minds of children and how much it affects us as adults. I can look at both my parents and still see the child in them and of course, I wasn’t even born yet! I hope that made sense. My Dad will throw a fit if he doesn’t get his way or if he has done something wrong. My Mom will cry if the conversation gets too deep instead of handling it like a grown up. My parents argue like they hate each other. You should’ve seen what happened when he ran over her plants with the lawn mower. It was a screaming match in the backyard and he tried to make it everyone eles’s fault by yelling, “I’m a prisoner in my own home!” My parents always fought in front of my bro and I. I became depressed and wanted to die. My bro got married right out of high school, moved away and to this day, he won’t have anything to do with his family. As an adult, I know it is NEVER OK to hit anyone or allow someone to hit me. I don’t remember anyone instilling that into my mind but I do know better. I think some people feel that violence is okay because there is such disappointment in life. Marriages fail, careers aren’t the dreams we expected, jobs don’t pay enough (if you can even get one), the cost of living is too high. So our tolerance is driven through the roof and our negative emotions run high until we explode and take it out on each other. We feel powerless. This is why people think that is it justified to hurt someone. A person feels powerful in the moment. What is happening to the world now is only history repeating itself. Only, this time around, we have more more technology which is being twisted and used for more for evil instead of good. Sad.

Comments are closed.