Good Teens Start With Good Beans
Good Teens Start With Good Beans
By Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
If 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.
When 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 blend.)
In 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.
The 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.
If 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.
By 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.
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