The Terror of Teenage Rebellion
At first, Neal Thompson was glad that his young boys had found an activity that was getting them outside, keeping them active, and helping them gain acceptance from peers. But, as the kids grew older, skateboarding started to show it’s dark side: vandalism, drugs, alcohol, skipping classes, lying, and more.
He wrote about the whole incredible story in his new book Kickflip Boys: A Memoir of Freedom, Rebellion, and the Chaos of Fatherhood. I spoke with him about it this week on the podcast.
Through all of the drama, Neal learned some valuable lessons about how to deal with rebellious teenagers in a positive way. In the end, one of the big things he wishes he would have been able to do was to relax and stop worrying so much about the future.
The thing that kept his family strong through it all? Neal says it was the ability to say “I love you” to his kids consistently and really mean it.
He also shares some strategies that he uncovered by watching his wife and her natural way of getting the kids to open up. Neal noticed that she was often more effective than he was at this even though he spent a lot of time with the boys skateboarding. We explore her communication style in-dept during this episode.
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In addition to his new book, Kickflip Boys: A Memoir of Freedom, Rebellion, and the Chaos of Fatherhood, Neal has written four other books and blabbed about them on ESPN, the History Channel, PBS, C-Span, Fox, TNT, and NPR — plus a fun five minutes on The Daily Show.
As a journalist, over the years he’s written for Outside, Esquire, Backpacker, Men’s Health, Sports Illustrated, Seattle Met, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. He spent a dozen years as a reporter at the Baltimore Sun, St. Petersburg Times, Bergen Record, Roanoke Times, and Philadelphia Inquirer.
He taught creative non-fiction at the University of North Carolina’s Great Smokies Writing Program, and served on the board of Seattle Arts & Lectures. As a journalist and author, he’s mostly written about flawed and adventurous men – athletes and explorers, astronauts and bootleggers, warriors and risk-takers. And now: skateboarders.
Neal’s goal has been to tell inspiring stories that capture the aspirations and warts-and-all imperfections of those trying to live big lives, especially those who overcome hurdles, hardships, and setbacks.