We all long to live a life of meaning, a life of fulfilled potential. Miraculously, we have this unique opportunity to be alive now, in this place and time, and do stuff.
How often are you able to embrace that truth?
Or do you sometimes feel like life is just happening to you and the best you can do is struggle to keep your head above water?
We can choose to believe that the challenges before us are random and unfair and/or we could see them as opportunities to practice conscious decision-making.
A lot of people tell me they feel like the rug was pulled out from under them when their children transitioned into teenagers. They had about a dozen years as a family and things were feeling stable and predictable when – WHAM – all the rules changed.
Suddenly the parenting territory is brand new (again!) and a sense of incompetency and confusion rises up. You still love your kid(s) and try to guide and protect them, but now they won’t accept your love the same way they used to and they are angered at your attempts to help.
The first question to ask yourself is, ‘how does this make me feel?’
Explore your thoughts and contemplate what it’s like to have your affection rebuffed. How does it feel to have your well-intentioned efforts ignored or attacked? Do you miss the adorable 5-year old who needed you and wanted to sit in your lap? Do you feel hurt that your teen acts like s/he doesn’t know you in public?
You may see your teenager as the one who has changed and therefore the one to blame for the friction this is causing, but your job instead is to examine your reactions and use this as a personal growth opportunity.
Because really, do you expect your teen to go back to being 10 years old? Of course not. S/he is on the path to maturity and the process is completely out of your hands. You are literally powerless against it.
Some of us fight hard when we feel powerless. It’s a panicky feeling so deep down that we just react and don’t even notice why. Other times we might feel defeated, angry, disappointed, and longing for an easier time – these are all emotions for us adults to work through.
Your teenager is not the source of your suffering.
Next ask yourself, ‘what information do I need to help me navigate this parenting phase?’
You aren’t the first mom or dad to have a teenager living with you. Others have fabulous insights to share with you about communicating with your teen and understanding their development at this stage. Empower yourself with knowledge.
Don’t get confused and decide your teenager doesn’t need you anymore. Keep your heart open to them even if it’s painful to be ignored or dismissed. Remember s/he still needs you and work to change your style of parenting to better fit the present teen reality.
Third question: ‘how can I get the support I need to manage my thoughts and emotions in this charged relationship?’
Any time you are upset about your teenager that is emotional work for YOU. If you feel compelled to argue with your teenager that’s a sign that YOU could change the way you are thinking. When you find yourself insisting you’re right and they are wrong – same thing. Your reactions to your teenager are within your control if you choose to learn and diligently practice self-awareness.
Most examples in the world of parents getting coaching or joining support groups are examples of families in crisis. But why the heck would you wait until that point to get some help? There are so many books and courses one could study, so many professionals to talk with.
If you open up, other parents will tell you things you would have never guessed about the therapist they see, the retreat they went on, or about the miracle of meditation. Just because other folks aren’t carrying signs that say they do personal growth work doesn’t mean they don’t.
Parenting with mindfulness is not easy and it doesn’t come naturally. If you tell yourself that parenting your teen should be simple because of how much you love her/him, just quit it.
You know your children are the most important things in your world. Rise to the challenge in front of you and consider the sacred relationship you have with your teenager as an opportunity to become a more masterful human. Would that be such a terrible thing to reach for?