I am caught up in March Madness - college basketball's wild quest to crown a national champion. It's hard to ignore, as even the most casual of fans fill out brackets for the office pool. March Madness is fun, unpredictable and wildly emotional. Just like raising teens.
If teens ruled the world (let's face it, they think they do) March Madness would be a year round event; a real time symposium on life in a hormonally charged body. What are the parallels? Parents of pre-teens take note:
1. The experts know bupkis. The lead up to March Madness consists of every college coach, former coach, bench jockey and towel boy coming out of the woodwork as bracketologists.
Everyone's got an opinion, with pundits, like teens, particularly self absorbed. And when it comes to the NCAA basketball tournament, the experts are always wrong. For example, eading into this weekend's Sweet Sixteen match ups, twelve of the AP preseason top 25 teams are history. This year, thanks to "Cinderella's" like Florida Gulf Coast, there's not a single perfect bracket among the millions submitted to ESPN.
The same can be said for parenting teens. You can pick out a few books by an ascot wearing Phd., sip a Starbucks and feel empowered. Then you get home and feel like you're dodging a human hurt locker.
2. March Madness is all about spurts and weak attention spans. The tournament goes from 68 teams to 16 in four days. Viewers of the opening rounds partake in an orgy of shots, dunks and fouls, with multiple games running simultaneously.
And the first games tip off at 11 a.m., perfect for a teen on a 14 hour sleep cycle.
March Madness is teenage nirvana. The only thing missing is texting the play-by-play.
3. March Madness is a human roller coaster. It's also a zero sum game. One and done. The best team rarely wins the national championship; rather it's the team which is "playing best" that usually cuts down the nets. The result is a series of highs and lows as teams look to survive.
The same can be said about parenting teens. "Layups" are rare and most kids are eager to "take a charge." Coaches can get fired. Parents, however, have a lifetime contract with constant restarts, halftimes and overtimes.
Do you see any parallels between March Madness and parenting teens? I would enjoy hearing from you.
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