Out and About

As I listened to the three little girls chatter with their mom and dad, I thought to myself, “Those are parents who won’t have big problems with their teenagers.”

While I was at Disneyland this past week, I played my usual game of Observing-Parents-And-Making-Predictions.  It’s  not something I do intentionally; I just catch myself at it.  In this case, I was at a nearby table watching the family finish a meal in the afternoon heat, a time of day which can bring out the worst in anyone.

But these girls, who were in the 5-to-9-year-old range, were smiling at their dad, teasing him: “Can we leave now?” the oldest asked with a grin. “Who ARE you children?” Dad blustered, “and why are you following me around Disneyland?”  The girls burst into giggles.  As they left, both parents listened with interest as the oldest laid out a plan for their afternoon.

So what is that easily-spotted trait that implies an easier adolescence?  I’ve boiled it down to respect.  Parents who treat their children with respect – who listen seriously to their children and speak reasonably to them when they’re still little – will keep doing so when their kids are teens.

And those teens will respond the same way.

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