Interview with Michael J. Bradley, Ed.D. and Author of When Things Get Crazy with Your Teen
Dr. Michael J. Bradley is a licensed clinical psychologist with a doctoral degree in psychology from Temple University. Over his 30-year career, the stories of courage and hope Dr. Bradley encountered became the basis for two highly-acclaimed books. Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy! – Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind and its companion, Yes, Your Parents Are Crazy! A Teen Survival Guide, garnered five awards each, being recognized by such prestigious parenting groups as Parents’ Choice and the National Parenting Center. His third book continues in the tradition of the first two by drawing inspirational stories from his case files. The Heart & Soul of the Next Generation: Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Teens, released in the fall of 2006, was also awarded the National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval. His most recent release is When Things Get Crazy With Your Teen: The Why, the How, the What to do NOW!
Dr. Bradley’s respect-based philosophy is at the heart of the presentations he has given to thousands of parents who are seeking ways to communicate with their adolescent children. It’s also something he practices daily as he and his wife raise their two children, an 18-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl.
RP: What is the biggest misconception that parents have about teens?
“The biggest misconception is that teenagers don’t care. Parents and teens often get in a cycle where they see the worst in each other and teens tend to put on the ‘I-don’t-care-face’ and parents begin to believe that. Kids are just putting that on, parents need to understand that teens do care.”
RP: What is the biggest misconception teens have about parents?
“Actually I think that teens do have a pretty good idea and conception of their parents and the research backs that up. If you ask teens, many of them greatly respect their parents, they just do not say anything about it.”
RP: What is the most interesting parent-teen story you have ever heard that made you change your perspective on parenting?
“There are many, many great stories, one of the most powerful stories is about a young man, who was gay, and the father, a tough guy, former military, came into see me and had a very tough session. The last thing that the father ever wanted to hear was that his son was gay, and the son was angry about this judgment, so it made the relationship further unravel. They actually had become mirror images of each other because they were both so filled with rage. They were sure that the other hated who they each were. When the session broke down I told them they seemed to be very similar in so many ways, particularly how they handled losing each other’s love. This shocked them and it was a turning point. It showed me that often parents and kids do not realize they can be mirrors of each other and need to see themselves in the other. That father and son just needed to rediscover that they loved each other.”
RP: Most difficult parenting topic to write about?
“I use respect based philosophy in parenting and it is hard to talk to parents about giving up the rage and anger. This can be the most difficult thing to get across. I know what it is like to go to a place of anger when you are mad at your kids, but I think it is so important to move beyond that for kids to respect their parents.”
RP: What is your favorite thing to write about Parenting:
“Stories are the most helpful and metaphor is the best way to get the message across to people.”
RP: Do you have one piece of advice to parents?
“Listen. As parents our job is to tell our kids what to do, and we think that is our valuable role. It turns out that kids almost always know what they should do, they just need to do it. So, we need to help them figure out how to do what they should do. Setting up goals with kids is really important. My advice to parents is to shut-up!”
RP: Do you have one piece of advice to teens?
“My advice to teens is the opposite, start talking, start reaching out. The more you talk to them the easier it will be for you and for your parents.”