“My 16 year old called me a slut. What am I supposed to do with that?”
“I’m a single mom . I’m scared of my teenage son’s rage. I don’t know what to do.”
“It’s constant tension in my house. You can’t live under shit all the time.”
Our kids were once young and small and then, one day it seems, we wake up to this sometimes-monster, this unappreciative, egotistical, rude, complaining parasite living in my home. And I look at this teenage person and I’m clueless how the hell this happened. Where I went wrong. What to do now. Overwhelmed. Frustrated. Seething mad. Hurt. Guilty.
I want a phenomenal relationship with this budding young adult. I want to admire him, encourage him, enjoy his company, share my life with him but it always seems to go deep south. It a matter of seconds, we hit pure insanity. An innoculous ‘good morning” could be the impromptus for World War Three. It’s unpredictable, usually ugly, and so exhausting.
So, the chit chatting stopped. Heads were nodding. Little grunts and laughs of agreement. We were firing on the exact same frequency and rode that wave of electricity regally. They were totally mine. I knew it; they knew it; the staff knew it. We were going to engage in this journey and face all the unspoken hopelessness they were clueless about. We had already begun this quest for answers. And not lacy, nicey ones; but real, raw, now kind of answers. The kind of answers that catapult you from frustration and insanity to gloriousness.
This one would be different- impossibly challenging and equally blessed. Usually my groups are for parents of younger kids or a mixed group of parents with different needs. Usually, we can leisurely share our pain, find normalcy in our commonality, and embrace change from the foundations, up, with grace. Not here.
Here, October 31, 2016 will be the Monday night where it gets really real. We’re going to roll up our sleeves and get down to some serious was-an-emergency-last-year kind of business.
Here’s a homogenous group of parents to teenagers who have been kicked out of the system, who are half a step away from dropping out. Mostly low socioeconomic families with complicated life histories who have kids whose lives have been nothing close to simple. Because of extreme social ineptness, ADHD side-effects, low cognitive ability, poor academic performance, or acute behavioral issues; these kids cannot learn in a normal classroom and thus ended up here, the Branko Weiss School in Kiryat Shemona. The very last stop.
For many years now, the school has tried (and failed) to conglomerate a parenting group. The principal and VP told me I needed to be razor sharp and reach them, convince them in a few short minutes that this is it. I was granted this one tiny window to wow them into participation. Nervous I was and fully pumped to get right into their guts.
[Twenty minutes later]
My heart jumped as I saw this stampede rush over to the sign up table. We did it!
There is this common frequency of pain that begs for resolution. This is where we were that night.
I spoke of how these kids never got their lives served to them on a silver platter. How these kids didn’t waltz around with a chip on their shoulder tasting the sweet fruits of success from day to day. No, these kids faced a darker reality, one in which others shined and they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with them. Everyone on Facebook and Instagram look so perfect, so happy, so normal- what’s wrong with me? Everyone in school has their shit together- what’s wrong with me? And then they come home, take off the mask and let all of their frustrations on the unfairness of their lives explode onto you and your family.
One mom felt that it was too late to make any changes. That it was just too late. And though we’ve all felt like that a lot of the times, I think my answer hit home:
“Your teenagers’s actions may make it clear that he doesn’t want you in his life but he does need you in his life.”
He needs you to be a parenting leader. To create a healthy, loving and effective system of communication that is not based on bribes or threats. To set limits. To express in actions and words, in no uncertain terms that you are an entity worthy of respect. That you won’t interrupt me, take my things without permission, speak disrespectfully to me. You won’t steal my money and you will help around this house that you live in. We spoke of how we need, as parents, to teach our kids how to be adults. How hard that is, how complicated it is, how impossibly crucial it is. Starting now.
Even as I prepare to teach this class, I think of those moments where I’ve sunk into my own emotional despair facing my own teenage children. Maybe that’s why we really connected that night. Cuz I have three teenagers at home. I have looked at Kobi before and asked why the hell did we have kids in the first place. I’ve tasted utter insanity, moments of heated escalation in which you don’t even understand how you got there or what you’re fighting about in the first place. I told them how my kids can push on my buttons to the point where I’m ready to kill someone, and yet, I’m learning and growing and developing thanks to my kids and the challenges they place before me.
We spoke of those brief and glorious moments of light in which we know we’ve raised them right, in which we know that everything is going to just fine. We spoke of knowing that as teens, it is their job to push away from us, and how, later, they can come back to be more loving, less get-out-of-my-life angry.
And so I’m deeply grateful for this group, for that group, and every group, and every therapy and coaching client, brings me information, helps me grow, comes exactly because they need me and I need them, to learn whatever strength and clarity is needed to overcome whatever specific challenge there is to face. And in everyone’s story is also our story, and in everyone’s change process there is inspiration and motivation to spark self-change too.
And so we’re going to start this course so very soon and my heart leaps in excitement and joy. They will learn; I will learn. Their families and homes will benefit; my family and home will benefit. The same God-sent non-profit also assigned me a group of religious mothers and their 5th and 6th grade girls. Body awareness, sexuality, and how to change that awkwardness and silence to healthy communication. I’ll teach 6 sessions with the moms while another facilitator works with the girls. Then the last two meetings I teach moms and girls together.
I’ve been assigned other groups that challenge and excite me as well:
- Sex, drugs, alcohol and raising awesomeness in teens for youth group leaders
- Moms after birth on all that comes with that new role
- Single mom’s self actualization, thriving and parenting
Single Mothers- My Heroes
I taught a single mom’s course last year and it was the most emotionally gratifying thing on this planet. We had mom’s who’s husbands threatened their lives, who slept with a knife under the pillow, who had debts of tens of thousands because there was no child support, there were court fees and she was never the breadwinner. Moms who cleaned houses and desperately tried to keep food in the fridge and not get her son kicked out of basketball because she was four months behind on the payments.
We spent the first half of the course just crying, sharing, allowing the ladies to become a circle of loving support and strength. I tried a few times to teach life skills, techniques of actualization, ways to be a clear parenting leader- and they just couldn’t. They were overwhelmed by life and needed first to vent, to release, to create some precious space of emptiness before we could input new information.
The second half, we were able to gain new insights, tools, skills, life-outlooks that took us from victim to victor, from-my-life-is-so-hard-and-I-can’t-do-this to I-am-strong-and-able-and-nothing-will-stand-in-my-way-to-create-a-sane-and-beautiful-life-that-my-children-and-I-deserve. The transformation process was so full of light, accompanied by so much laughter, so many tears, so much hugging, and loving, and we’ve-got-your-back-girl presence that it changed all of us forever. We haven’t spoken in months, yet we all know we’re there for each other. Every once in a while someone will send a small hello message and the group’s what’s up, and the girls all hug back.
Whatever the obstacle we face now… Bring. It. On. We’re ready to learn. We can do this. Always, always, always we find the path. The right teacher, the right course, the right insight deep in our darkest crevices that guides us through the tough stuff and into our own mini-milestoned light-bathes of glory. Tiny split seconds of success in which I didn’t blow up, I didn’t lose control, I didn’t lose my connectedness with myself and something else transpired. That split second choice, that tenacity, that diverted insanity is evidence of my power, and it is to there that I paddle my boat, one stroke at a time, until, eventually, I’m gliding through the waters and what was so mechanical and forced becomes automatic and natural, and God-damn-it I’ve risen above what I thought I couldn’t it. And I’ll look back at 6 months ago, or two weeks ago, and realize that I’m not the same person, and that I’ve tapped into some well of wisdom and strength that wasn’t ready to be utilized ten minutes ago, and now it is. And in this empathic step I shall focus my all, and be proud, and take a deep breathe, and march forward, one tiny victory and growth at a time.
Had those moments of confusion and doubt facing your own parenting? Felt that helplessness before your child? Have you found your path for clarity and strength? Breathing any better knowing that you’re not alone and that you can and will do this like a champ. You will. I’m here. I see you. I know you will.
The Journey Continues Here:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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