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You Know What Makes a Great Parent for Teenagers? My GPS System

Benita is the name we have chosen for our automotive GPS unit. Actually, my wife Jill chose the name, and “Benita” suits her well. Jill likes to bestow names. I think her prime motivation for getting a puppy is to name her “Stella.” It is my opinion that we are currently living with enough well named pets.

Certainly, Benita is less demanding than a pet, though she does have needs and will shut down if she spends too long away from the power cord. But we love her and she has become an important family member. When she is not on the dashboard, we ask, “Where is Benita?” When unsure of our route to a destination, “Let’s ask Benita!” Benita has become a trusted travel companion, whether to find a destination in town or to guide us across the states. I think Benita would make a great parent, especially for teenagers.

What Makes A Great Parent? My GPS Would Do A Good Job

Benita will provide an instruction, and later repeat that same instruction. Once she determines that you have ignored her instruction, she calmly states, “recalculating,” and offers advice on how to get back on course. Amazingly, she never changes her tone, and she never loses her cool. I think she knows we could choose to shut her down if she became too annoying, too shrill, or somehow overly animated. This all sounds something akin to good parenting. Benita understands the limits of her authority; she nurtures no delusion of total control. Benita understands that she cannot seize control of the wheel nor apply the brakes. As far as I can tell, she has never tried.

Steady and consistent, Benita understands what she can do and does not attempt what she cannot. Benita plays a role. As parents, our role changes when our children become teens. We spend the first dozen years pouring our values into our children; during the teenage years we hope to see them coming out. When they don’t come out, we look for evidence that they are still in there. When we see little or no evidence that our values are resident, we hunker down and we humbly endure the test of our own patience.

Not long ago, Benita provided needed instructions to a movie theater. At the point I could see the theater and the frontage road leading to it, she told me to make a turn that would have taken us off course. Like all parents, her guidance is not flawless, though she is spot on most of the time. Her recommendation for movie candy that night was Raisinettes; smart girl. Like a parent, Benita does not need to be perfect to be excellent.

Steve Rose

Steve lives in Minneapolis with his wife and their two teenage sons. He is a mechanical engineer who likes to write. Steve is currently rehabbing from a Labor Day rock climbing accident and subsequent surgery.