Don't just survive your teen's adolescence
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
There have been a lot of teen questions in the Real Life Momming group recently. This is one of those times when my life fuels my work and my work saves my life! Every time I run up against the nonsense of adolescence (selfishness, extreme emotions, disrespect, defiance, anti-social attitude, etc.) I send a silent thank-you to the universe for the training, education, and experience my work has given me about this stuff...and sometimes it's still not enough!
When my first kid became a teen, I cast about for even more information and support. I found so much that was negative and defeatist. I kept hearing things like "You just have to get through this. We just need to get these kids through high school and out of the house. Someday they will change - just wait it out."
Screw that! If you are struggling with a teenager right now, you don't have to just drink and bear it! Here are the top messages I share with my clients to make the last years of their kid's childhood special and (dare I say it?) joyful:
1) It gets better
This isn't your forever place for you or your teens. Adolescence follows an arc; it's not just a black hole of madness. There are moments when it is impossible to see how things could change. How could someone so anti-social and hell-bent on self-destruction ever pull off the 180 necessary to become a functional member of society?!? But remember - they turned on a dime to suddenly become this crazy kid. Another change can and will happen just as suddenly (probably several times).
2) You don't have to just wait for it to get better
Motherhood is not something to just survive; I've yet to meet a mother whose fantasy is to white-knuckle it until their kids leave the house forever. It's ok if you don't want to spend the last years with your child at home unhappy! There are things we can do to make this time more than just a gauntlet to suffer. Believing it's possible has to come first.
3) Don't get in the weeds.
The same discipline principles that apply to younger kids still apply now - it just feels totally different. Why?
- The stakes are higher. It often feels like our relationship with them hangs in the balance. Somehow a toddler screaming, "I hate you and I'll never forgive you!" when they receive a consequence is a lot easier to disbelieve than when a teen does it. It can easily feel like your relationship and future with your child hangs in the balance; thoughts of losing our child or them hating us can really cloud our parenting.
- The risks are higher. We're not just talking about being ready in time for school anymore, we're talking about doing drugs while prepping for a drivers license, or making smart decisions about sex. Sh*t just got real!
- The implications are higher. We make the extreme things our kids do mean something about them or us. Here are a few quotes I've heard from moms about their teens' troubles:
"I've worked so hard to get him to this point, and now look how he's acting!"
"I thought I was doing so much right, but this is the result of my parenting - a person who lies and doesn't care about school!"
"Who has my kid turned into?!? How did I raise someone who would do this?"
"What did I do wrong? She's so selfish!"
This mind drama blocks us from using what we already know. The techniques, philosophies and skills I teach my clients are unchanging and equally effective regardless of the age of the child. I talked about these concepts and how to apply them with teens in a recent interview with Misty Knight of 'The Tenacious Woman'. Check it out if you want to learn more!
4) You were never meant to figure this out alone.
Humans are tribal creatures; we're meant to have older, wiser, and more objective input to make it through the times that cloud our judgement. But somehow we feel like failures when we don't know what to do or need help - give yourself permission to throw that thinking away and get the support you need. That's where I can help. When you know your life with your child can be something more, I'm here to help you make it happen. It starts with a free discovery call where we talk about what's going on in your family, where you want to go, and how to get there. I'll give you specific feedback and you'll walk away from our talk with a plan to make it happen.