He makes some very good points, such as that we define a good teen by what they are NOT doing (not doing drugs, having unprotected sex, whatever). But what I really liked were the ingredients he named for what makes a good teen, and his information on how to foster those things. Here's a quote from his interview:
Tell us about the "5 C's."
The 5 C's are competence—not just academic but social, vocational and health competence. Confidence. Then character, that it's fundamentally important to do what's right. Connection, or working collaboratively with parents, peers, siblings, teachers, coaches. Finally, caring, a sense of compassion or social justice.
How do we foster these?
Through programs that embrace three characteristics: sustained relationships between adults and young people, teaching knowledge and skills to navigate the world and—this can be the most difficult—allowing kids to use those skills in valued community and family activities. Let your kids plan family vacations with you. Let them help set the menu for dinner. Or, if the parents give resources to charity, let young people help make that decision. And even though school administrators wince when I say this, let young people be on school boards. Let them sit on the Chamber of Commerce.
I could not agree more with his list of characteristics, and think Lerner's ideas for building them are so important. It's why I make sure to really talk to my children's friends, and let them know I'm a person too, who will listen. And why we do let our children have input in decisions.
Certainly, it makes me very happy to see how these traits show up in my own children. And it's how I know that, even when they are scattered, lack planning ability, and are incredibly focused on their peers to the exclusion of all other things, I live with two very good teens.