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How to Extract A Commitment From Your Teenager?

I believe we all have gone through the pain and anguish when our teenager does not keep his side of the commitment, especially after you have kept your side of the bargain. How frustrating is that? Ever thought of turning back the clock?

A good friend was struggling to extract a commitment from his 21 year old son who was pushing him to buy a sports-bike. Having tried everything that Google throws at you when you are out of answers, he was desperate and hoping for a miracle. (Even a Google Ad was welcome at this time for a suggestion)

So his biggest challenge was, how do you get a buy-in from his teenager without all the conflicts that come along with it?

Converting A Conflict Into An Opportunity

While he was against the idea of his son getting a sports-bike, he also realized this could be an opportunity for him to make his son own up the responsibilities that come with making decisions

Now, my friend who is a veteran deal maker in his professional capacity, decided not to use the traditional methods of coaching his son on the do’s & don’ts of riding bikes

He knew it too well that just talking and explaining to his son may fall on deaf ears. He came up with an innovative and a radical idea

Making It A Family Decision

He called in a family meeting with his son, daughter and wife.

First, he explained to everyone the purpose of the family meeting. This comes from great experience of running meetings in a corporate environment — Before you start any meeting, set the expectations of the meeting with everyone

Second, he openly communicated to his son the responsibilities that he expected from him while riding the bike.

  1. No racing mindlessly
  2. No triple seat riding
  3. No going out of town
  4. Always wear a Helmet

Owning Up & Signing Up

After he was sure that his son understood the above 4 points, he asked him to write down all the points on a piece of paper. That paper was then signed by all four of them. This became a family contract, with ownership on his son to honor the contract

 Success Lies In Execution

Now as any professional knows, a contract is just a paper until is it executed in fairness. To ensure that the contract gets followed through by his son, he delegated the responsibility of overseeing the contract execution contract to his 18 year old daughter. That sealed the deal..!

Today his son is a happy motorbike rider — he gets to own a bike but within the boundaries defined by his Dad, but most importantly the boundaries that are owned by his son

Final Thoughts

The key was to have his son own-up his responsibilities and physically sign-up to stick to his commitment, not only to his Dad but to the entire family. A complex and a challenging issue which had all the right ingredients to blow up, was converted into a great opportunity of making his son own up to his decisions.

I did however ask my friend later, whether he has got the contract registered?

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