It’s a big area of our lives that we don’t stop to examine well. Problem ownership – the question of, who, exactly owns this problem?

The four areas of problem ownership are:
1. No problem
2. You have a problem
3. The other person has a problem
4. You both, or we all, have a problem

When a problem, or a challenge, arrives in our world, where does it sit? This is important because the way we think about a ‘problem’ will be directed by where we have assigned it in our model of the world.

Let’s take a problem that can currently be found in many households … back to school and exams.

Your teenager is unmotivated. Do you think:
1. There’s no problem here. School is not that important.
2. I want them to have good results this year to keep their future options open. Good grades are important, and they know it’s not okay to sit around.
3. My teen will need to get themself moving to get up to scratch.
4. I can see and feel they’re not motivated. I know they want to finish school successfully. How can I help them and how can we work together to get them over the line?

Depending on where you stand in the problem ownership model will make a huge difference to how you take your next steps.

We grow into parenting one problem at a time: questioning, deciding, aiming, missing, questioning again.

Let the problems be our teachers.

Problem ownership is part of Teen Talk ™. Sign up at to discover new parenting tools. Tools that will enhance your relationship with your adolescent and guide them through the challenges they face. Together, on the same side.