Most mornings it’s still dark when I leave my driveway to head to the gym. Often during the school year as I pass a certain intersection, I see a car with its headlights on parked by the side of the road.

It’s a parent – a caring, protective parent who waits with his child for the school bus. It’s not anyone I know, but in my imagination I see a mother expressing love, making sacrifices and saving for the child’s college education. This is the kind of adult I write for – someone who would do practically anything to help her child grow up to be a happy, successful adult. A person who would even read books to learn how to do this more effectively.

The thing is, it’s going to take a lot more than love, sacrifice, and a college education. To achieve that happy result, it’s going to take some things this parent doesn’t even know about yet.

For example, he needs to know what’s happening in a young teenager’s brain, the potential consequences, and how to turn all this into positives. Really, really important stuff.

And communication skills. It’s rare that even a loving parent has strong communication skills. Without these skills, it will be hard to maintain the bridge of communication between parent and teenager. And without this connection with his child, there is so much he won’t be able to do, even with a good heart. The man in the car doesn’t yet know specifically what the skills are, and he doesn’t know what it will take to improve them.

So many good, positive things can happen. So many horrible things can happen, the worst things imaginable. The teen years are a perilous time.

I know not every parent is willing to do the work. But many are. And I imagine that the man in the car is the kind of parent I write for.

For parents eager to do the work, my new book: How Your Teen Can Grow a Smarter Brain.

You can grow the bond with your child through better listening. Download the FREE ebook, Listening to Understand.