Adolescence - Joys and Challenges
We want to spare our children some of the fears, uncertainties and hurts that we either endured or inflicted on others, so that their teen years can be better. What if you knew and admitted that this is a pipe dream? What if you knew and admitted that you are powerless to prevent your child from having challenges and difficulties. What if you knew and admitted that no matter how strong you have become, often as a result of your teen year experiences, having your child go through the same thing, just because you did, or avoiding similar experiences to yours, would not necessarily benefit him/her?
Every generation faces the same fears for their children because every parent can say that things are so different now than when they were teens. Teens will forever say that their parents cannot possibly understand them because times are so different, and kids are different. Will Rogers was quoted as saying that when he was 17, he could not understand how his parents survived as long as they did, being as stupid as they were, and when he was 21 he remarked how much his parents had learned in 4 short years. It really brings home the fact that no matter how much things change some things always remain the same. Teenagers are going through a tumultuous time physically, mentally and emotionally. It has been documented through PET scans, that the adolescent brain is changing as much during these years as it did during the first three years of their lives. While your teenager may look and often act like he/she is on the brink of adulthood, they are still growing and developing, and will periodically do things that show their lack of judgment, maturity, or understanding of the laws of cause and effect. This is when remembering the phrase that my friend's mother always uses comes in handy: "They're not soup yet." No they're not, but they need to be treated with the same regard and respect that we hold for other human beings.
This is often difficult because our teens do so much that trigger our frustration, anger, fear and uncertainty, and when we feel these negative feelings it is very difficult to respond to the situation with respect, love and compassion. This, however, is the challenge and, hopefully the goal of every adult who interacts with a teenager. It is when we feel these negative feelings surge, that we most need to "STOP! BREATHE! FOCUS!"; as well as remember to ask ourselves: What is my desired outcome??? What choices, freedoms, and/or self expression were you offered when you were growing up? Did you feel accepted for who you were, or did you feel judged, criticized, diminished if you disagreed with your parents? Are these the patterns you want to continue in your life going forward, or are you willing to focus on other ways, ways in which your inner voice can be heard, and how you might allow your teen's voice to be heard as well. If you have already raised your adolescent, and you're reflecting back on how you reacted then, and you believe that you'd do a different job now, it might be very helpful, for both of you, if you could discuss that with your 'adult child" now.
In the past I have written about "being enough", as well as "anger, and forgiveness", and this topic touches on these topics, too. I am not asking you to reflect back to beat yourself up, but to realize that life is a journey, and as long as we're alive, there are opportunities to repair relationships and make positive changes in how we think and act.
As parents, I believe that there are 5 goals or desired outcomes in our relationships with our teens. These goals are also imperative in establishing a new and different relationship with yourself. After all, we first really do have to learn how to love, accept and respect ourselves before we can fully offer those same gifts to anyone else. GOALS:
May we all enjoy the adventure, and find there are blessings in our experiences, not just gray hairs.