Summary: You can choose to solve problems (like Columbo) or create more (like Inspector Clouseu) by your parental clumsiness?
Some good ideas will be presented here-- they are not presented so much as a sermon as simple advice to parents, especially of teens.
The Columbo Method of Parenting Teenagers
1) Persistently Ask Questions
Columbo is an annoying little man, but he always gets the answers he needs. He recognizes that he has to
take responsibility and determine how a crime truly happened. So he wades in asking
questions that often seem to have little or nothing to do with the crime, but still he asks.
Parents, you MUST ask your child questions. It is essential that you ask questions and know what is
going on in your child’s life. Some parents don’t wish to be perceived as nosy, but it is your God-given
responsibility. You can be made to pay for crimes (like graffiti) that your child commits. You need to find out the answers.
You also need to ask your child questions about issues that are not problem related.
A wise parent will work diligently to keep the lines of communication open. “How was
school?” is really an important question. Ask about the subjects that they enjoy. Ask your
teenager about friends that you have met. Ask why they seem so sad. Ask if they need
something to eat. Don’t let the questions you ask always be fishing expeditions to discover
the wrong your child may or may not have done.
Ask your child’s friends questions. Don’t be afraid to call a friend’s house and ask a
question. Don’t be afraid to carefully nose around. Ask questions about other friends. Talk to
everyone. Be careful that you don’t attack or accuse anyone of anything when speaking to your teen’s friends.
Ask your child’s teachers questions. Don’t take your child’s word for the problems that are going on at school.
By asking questions you may be able to clarify issues and discover more then your child was willing to tell you.
2) Be Observant
Columbo sees all. The most annoying little detail that was overlooked by the
murderer is not neglected by our rumpled old detective with keen eyes open for details..
Parents need to see all. In order to be observant you need to look.
A parent must venture into the tornado swept bedrooms of their child. Look
around. Snoop. A parent must occasionally invade the child’s privacy. A good parent isn’t looking for
love letters or diaries, but rather for other items that indicate a struggle with pornography,
tobacco, drugs, or alcohol.
You have EVERY right to search a room in your house- but be certain that there is a valid reason for such a search!
The United States Constitution offers no protection against a search and seizure conducted by a parent in their own home.
Such a “look around” should not be hidden from the child, but also should not appear to be an execution of search warrant.
A parent needs to observe odors which arise from a child’s clothing. Cigarette
smoke always indicates your child has been around someone who is smoking. A teen who
burns incense may be hiding more than the odor of stale pizza that has fallen behind the
bed, but may be seeking to conceal the odor of alcohol, cigarettes, or even pot..
A parent needs to occasional observe by driving somewhere. Is your teen where he
said he was going? Is he really where he said he would be? If a parent cannot trust his child about location, what other issues may exist?
A parent needs to listen. The decreasing cost of cell phones has made it easier for a
parent to keep track of their child. When you call your teen at the library does the
background noise indicate he has made an unscheduled trip to the mall instead? When he
calls you what sounds drift to your ears over the headset? Is he in a car when he was supposed to be in a class?
Part of observant listening is hearing what your teen does take time to tell you. Be observant
enough to recognize his frustration with life. He or she may be struggling with issues that you
were unaware of simply because you did not care enough to listen. Has your teen recently been rejected
by a member of the opposite sex? Are they experiencing problems on the job that you have either ignored or minimized. Are they afraid to tell tyou that they are being bullied at school? Do they have a teacher that is treating them in an inappropriate manner? Don’t minimize their feelings about an issue.
3) Never Accuse Until You Have the Facts.
Columbo is consistent in this practice. He never accuses the person that you and I as the television
viewer already know is guilty. He asks dozens of questions, but it is only after a careful investigation that he