Session one. Nervous chatter. They don’t know each other. They don’t know me. They don’t like this feeling of being vulnerable- I’m here cuz I don’t know how to parent my teenage child. I’m here cuz I need help. I’m here because I don’t know.…. That is not a remarkably comfortable place to be in, especially not for the dads, especially cuz it’s not your typical sandbox parenting issues, it’s tougher stuff. Stuff with consequences that weigh much more. Stuff that stings and sits on top of and abuses all of our deepest unresolved childhood issues and the shades of us we’re not proud of. It’s the stuff that says, “If my kid’s a teenager now, almost out of the house, and it’s too late to change anything and this is how he’s turned out then, clearly, I’ve failed in a huge, unforgivable way.”
Interestingly enough, most of the parents in the group have older kids currently in the army or even married and their biggest trouble is now with their youngest child who is a teenager. A few had younger kids at home, but most not. Some shared how impossible it was to live with their child and how they came because they needed someone to tell them how and what to do at home. Almost all felt this screaming, “My child hates me!”
We spoke mostly about five things that were extremely powerful:
1-Change Isn’t Meant to be Easy
The change process we are engaging in will not be an easy one.We will learn new ways of looking at our teen, new methods of communication, new and fitting forms of discipline that are dramatically different from what we have done until now. And because up until now, for better and for worse, we’ve interacted with our teen in an unspoken but powerful agreement on how we will interact; you, the parent, now coming home with something new is breaching that contract. The reaction will often be resentment and resistance, so that often, when we bring a change home to our families, the result is often that things get harder, before they get easier.
It is worth it. We are strong. We are unwilling to continue living under the current terms and therefore, we are ready to enter this change process.
2. You are Not Guilty
You have not done a bad job as a parent. This is your child’s story and his struggle with his life and all that he does is his as a teenager and we can help, but we do not need to feel alone, nor to blame.
Now that we know that we are not alone, that we are not guilty, that nothing is dramatically wrong with my teen and that he is going through this normal, though difficult, change process; I can now do two things. One- be less emotional about it. Don’t get so hurt by his words. Don’t be so floored and infuriated each time anew. Two- bring some humor into my home. Even to myself, instead of getting hurt, I can say to myself with a smile, “Here, she’s pushing away from Mommy. I see it perfectly”
I also reminded parents something from our introduction evening: Even though your child acts like he doesn’t want you in his life, he needs you in his life!
3-He is Not Good Enough
Your child is living in a world that tells him all the time that he is not good enough.All the social media show him happy, sexy, successful teens and adults and he just walks around until this enormous stress that he is not good enough and never will be. This allusion we live in today causes a great deal of stress, depression, and anger in our children. This, this unfairness they bring home and let go of at home. This frustration brings so much pain to us at home, where it is safe to put down the mask and let it go.
4- Expect the Unexpected
It is so impossibly hard to raise a teen when you never know what to expect and you cannot understand why they do what they do. It is frustrating and can drive you crazy when your teenager does not help around the house, only complains, picks fights, and treats you disrespectfully. It is even so hurtful and confusing when your child looks at you and speaks to you with disgust. (We began already to help parents understand this painful situation).
Your child’s role as a teen is to figure out how to make the transition from a child to an adult. As a child he could love you, depend on you, trust you to do and you could be everything in the world to him. Now that he has a great awareness of the world, he understands that he is about to be an adult and that is not good enough, has major flaws which means he will not make it. And so, he has to make it work in his head that adults are flawed so that he can come to terms with the fact that he too, as an adult, can be flawed, and so… he must push away from, reject, make the greatest distance he can from the adults in his life that he used to be allowed to be close to: his parents. This creates an endless and often ugly process of drama and fighting. As your teen pushes/pulls away from you, he loses his safety net, his closeness, his nest and now has to forge a new safe place which he seeks in friendships.
[Note: Your teen still desires adult approval and guidance but he is unable as yet to get it from you so he will seek and hopefully find wonderful adults outside the home to help him. Once he is stable in his budding sexuality and new identity with self, he can return, quite lovingly, to be in a positive relationship with you again.]
You, beautiful you, blowing like these dandelions in the wind of darkness, bringing your light into your home, or at least, trying. Really, really hard. I’m getting emails and messages on Facebook saying “I’m reading” and would love to see it here in the comments too, so that others can join in. Or maybe you want to keep it just between you and I, or maybe you don’t want to react at all, but do some work inside.
Either way, I’m here and so happy to share. There will be more so you may want to sign up for the email notification each time I write something new. It’s in the sidebar. Or don’t, and find out, or don’t, when the winds are just right.
IT’S ALL PERFECT HOWEVER OR WHATEVER YOU DO OR DON’T. 🙂
Hugs from me the parent to you,
from me the little girl to you,
from me just me to you,
This series begins with:
A million thanks and credit to Anthony E. Wolf, Ph.D, for writing so perfectly Get Out of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall? I’ve read dozens of parenting books and found this one the best one for at least the first half of this parenting course for parents of teens. When we get to behavioral changes, we’ll bring others in, but, for now, his genius work brings the best foundations I can bring here. Highly recommended!
Gabi is a certified trauma therapist, family communications expert, energy healer, and life coach with a Masters in Psychology. She shares her personal life stories and insights to inspire others to share their honest, neurotic selves and do all that is necessary to Clean Your Soul. She believes that all of us are on our journey from pain to the light, and by staying inspired and aware, we can all reach our fullest, cleanest, most beautiful free selves. Gabi takes a very limited number of one-on-one clients for transformational parenting, family, healthy life, and trauma therapy. You may reach Gabi directly at email@example.com.
Photo credits to all these amazing geniuses who know how to use photography to portray what words simply cannot. Thank you for putting your work out there for others to use and get inspired from. In order of appearance:
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