With more than 20 years of experience, youth worker, life coach and author Nigel Lane understands teenagers better than most. He tells Warcry how the whole family can ride out the roller-coaster of adolescence.
Why are you passionate about supporting young people and their parents?
Adolescence is an emotional, physical, intellectual, social and spiritual rollercoaster. Parents may have never seen their child go through it, and even if they have, there are no guarantees the siblings will ‘enjoy the same ride’. I want every family member to remember the journey positively.
What is the greatest challenge teenagers face and how can we overcome it?
One of the core challenges facing young people in 2017 is that of self-acceptance.
Not just at the surface, but deep in their soul. Out of self-acceptance they will then be able to face the challenges of career choice, partner choice, friend choice, values choice and the myriad of other things they need to work out for themselves.
We can help by first accepting them for who they are; listening to them when they ask questions or simply rant; offering to place our arm around their shoulder and be there for them when required.
You’ve had extensive religious training.How do you make your faith relevant to millennials?
My religious ‘phase’ (as my mother called it) has lasted 47 years, so I rarely see my faith as separate to who I am: it is who I am. I need to be seen as relevant because if people get to know me they will see my faith. Relevancy to me can be summarised in a simple word—care. If a millennial realises that I care, they are relaxed about me not knowing about their music—in fact they prefer it.
What’s the most effective way a parent can relate to their teenager?
Listen to them (when they are willing to talk). Discuss family life rather than make family announcements. Demonstrate your values. Pray for them.
How has parenting changed in the last 20 years?
As a grandfather of seven I could write a book on this one. As expected, my wisdom isn’t needed by my children because they have Google and Facebook groups to assist them in their quest. ‘When I was their age’ we just did our best and read an occasional book. I often smile because I think my children have turned out brilliantly, so I suspect we got a couple of things right.
What’s the first step a parent can take to protect their children on the internet?
It is difficult to teach someone to swim from the edge of the pool—somebody must get in the water with them. If they haven’t yet started going online, then start together and set up their passwords etc.
If they are older and online already, get them to show you how it all works. Keep talking and keep watching.
You’ve had over 20 years experience working with young people in different capacities. Why have you chosen to base your career on helping people?
The shorter answer is because I enjoy it and feel a sense of fulfilment. I suspect I have found my ‘vocation’ in serving young people in particular. It certainly doesn’t stem from the fact that I am superior, have something to offer, feel they need me to help them to survive or any similar notion. More from a stance of I have freely received so I want to freely give.
Nigel Lane’s book 101 Practical Ways to Motivate Your Child is available now through nigellane.com.au.