In Action

How powerful is a teen encounter group in problem solving? Recently, I asked a group of high school freshmen to counsel me in handling a delicate situation with another teen that I occasionally tutor.

Scenario given to freshmen:  

Yesterday, I met with a high school sophomore at Starbucks to help him with some Algebra. Previously, I had asked that he give me a day or two warning prior to any tutoring, so that I could review a little. Well, yesterday he gave me about fifteen minutes notice. He had a test, hadn’t read the book, and hadn’t approached his teacher all week for help. He protested, “What do you expect, my mom is a drug addict!!”


Please advise me, and tell me what to do next.

You might be surprised by the depth, variety, and sensitivity of their responses. I am sure you understand that in writing to me, each teen put himself or herself in the position of the math student, as if they were there with me at Starbucks. They were telling me how they see things as if I were tutoring them. Here is what I gleaned from what was expressed:

  • teens relate to the conditions of family life, and how it affects performance in school
  • they need emotional support and connection outside of school
  • they know that they need to persevere, even when the going gets tough at home
  • adults can’t force them to do anything, and they shouldn’t try
  • teens see irresponsible behavior of their parents as being uncaring towards them
  • other teens have it at least as bad if not worse than they do and this is comforting
  • friends can be a source of love when parents are emotionally absent
  • in the end, the real world the other side of high school won’t care about excuses

As parents, we might be surprised to get this level of insight from other parents, let alone teens!  Not only is the feedback insightful, but diverse. Sharing these kinds of different insights is one of the unique strengths of a peer encounter group.

Take a look at their responses for yourself in the following pages.


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