Is your life hectic? Did you plan for it to be this way? Did you sit down two years ago and say, Wow, my life is so relaxed, I have so much time that over the next two years, I want to greatly increase how many things my kids--and we--are doing? The hectic lives that most of us lead are not the result of careful planning. It just happened. With all this activity comes more and more stress, and less time with our kids. Think about it. Often, even when you are with your kids, there is a part of you that is still thinking about where you just left, and another part of you that is thinking about what you will be doing next. It's hard to be fully present for them. We have a lot on our minds, including planning how to get our kids to where they have to be next and how to get ourselves to where we have to be, and we rush around and worry about whether our arrangements will work out. Like it or not, our kids pick up on this. And often their reaction is to believe that they are not very high on their parents' list of priorities. This is a very demanding time during which to be a parent of a teenager. Maybe the only thing more difficult is to be a teenager! There are more influences than ever on them, and more sources of distraction. James Comer, M.D., a renowned educator and the author of Waiting for a Miracle: Schools Can't Solve Our Problems, but We Can, observes that never before in human history has there been so much information going directly to children unfiltered by adult caregivers. This is more important than it might seem at first--so read it again! It means that parents are now in serious competition for the attention of their children, and our attempts to influence them are constantly being diluted by numerous messages encouraging them to act and think differently from ways we would like them to. A parent's time is extremely precious and pressured. Our hectic lives create barriers to entering our teens' "other world"--even if they would let us in. As James Comer has alerted us, they are under the influence of their peers, the media, the Internet, and who knows what else. Though we don't have unlimited energy for parenting, it's something we have to deal with in an emotionally intelligent manner . . . and we can! On the Road to Adulthood To do so requires that we look carefully at the teenage years, especially at how they are today and how they will be in the foreseeable future. On the journey from childhood to adulthood, adolescence represents the bridge. How are our teenagers going to travel over that bridge? What roads will they take? Given all the demands on our time, what are the best ways to guide our teens in a positive direction? Adolescence is a process, not an end product or even a stop along the highway of life. Kids pass through it at high speed. Our job as parents is to make sure they get to the real goal of being an emotionally intelligent adult with as few accidents along the way as possible and to help them when they hit a pothole or two and have a problem. You are not trying to raise a Superteen, because a Superteen will not necessarily end up as an emotionally well-adjusted and successful adult. Adolescence is for learning how to become an adult, not for learning how to become a successful adolescent. Now, let's also be realistic. It is not easy to have an impact on your adolescents, especially if you don't already have a great relationship with them. We are strong believers in realistic simplification. What are the most important things that parents can do, consistently, that can make a very big difference in preparing adolescents for competence in adulthood? Many books give page after page of advice, on many different topics. These often sound terrific, especially to those who have the leisure time to read and think about them--such as people without kids in their homes! But in our professional experience, there is only so much thatElias, Maurice J. is the author of 'Raising Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers Guiding the Way for Compassionate, Committed, Courageous Adults' with ISBN 9780609805251 and ISBN 0609805258.