Town Talk Features

Parent Trap: Five Questions Every Young Person Should Ask to Ensure Success

Are there young people in your family  who are confused and stressed about creating a successful life? Suggest that they interview adults and ask them five key questions to provide both perspective and encouragement. The holiday season is upon us, so there are lots of opportunities to engage adults with the following questions:

1. When you were my age, did you know your career path would be what you are doing now?
2. Did you make mistakes or bad decisions, doubt yourself or experience failures along the way?
3. What did you learn from these experiences?
4. How did you overcome your biggest challenges?
5. What advice would you give me at this stage of my life?

The holidays are a natural time for families and friends to gather, so I encourage young people to sit down with aunts, uncles, grandparents and other loved ones and ask them these questions. So many young people in high school and college worry that they should have their whole lives figured out by now. And if they don’t, they feel stressed out and discouraged. We need to share our experiences with them to give them some perspective and peace of mind.

I also recommend that young people read biographies or watch documentaries about eminent figures to learn how they met their callings. We all tend to learn best from interesting first-hand stories like these!

Here is some suggested reading material to provide encouragement and guidance:
The Element by Ken Robinson
The Right Words at the Right Time by Marlo Thomas
Everyday Greatness by Stephen Covey
Letters from My Grandfather: Timeless Wisdom for a Life Worth Living by Dr. Tim Jordan

Most adults are more than happy to share their lessons and stories, and their ideas and experiences can help enrich others’ lives. This kind of first-person perspective can help young people relax and start allowing life to unfold vs. forcing it into a mold.

Tim Jordan, M.D., is a behavioral pediatrician who specializes in counseling girls ages 6 through college. He recently launched an online video parenting course, Taking Flight: Everyday Parenting Wisdom to Help Girls Soar. For more information, visit