I was talking with the mother of a fourteen-year-old the other day, she had contacted me because her daughter had a track record of refusing to listen, back talking, and generally becoming distant and disrespectful over the past few years. Mom was tired of trying to figure out what was going on and why this girl was behaving in a way that mom "never would have done" to her own parents.
She shared some of the ups and downs the family had been through over the past five years and though there wasn't anything dramatic from what she'd reported, I knew I was only getting one perspective.
Mom was looking for some guidance...at least that's what she claimed. But, as I learned more, I began to wonder if mom wanted help for herself; or if she just wanted me to give her some quick strategies to get her daughter to start behaving the way she wanted (and expected) her to behave.
Today's culture continually promotes the idea we can change our lives for the better in a *snap*. Pop a pill, buy this...do that; it's just that simple to fix things in our lives.
But quick fixes don't work in the relationships with our adolescents. Nor does it work to say it's all their fault. Problems arising in one child are a symptom of challenges within the whole family unit.
Yes...and it's okay to say this.
You can't just learn a new parenting trick or two one day and expect your teen to tow the line the way you want them to.
If your relationship with your adolescent is in a shitty place, it has taken time to get this way. And it's going to take some time, energy, commitment, and effort on your part to begin to turn things around (which is really all you can control, your child's response and behavior is up to them.)
You can only work on YOU.
Often the approach you are taking with your teen is based in the notion as parents we're supposed to know it all; to be the one "in charge", to be respected. Because that's the way we were raised. And we can't understand why that same method isn't working for us.
It isn't working because times change...everything else in the world is changing, right? Why not our approach to raising our kids?
When we make the choice to treat our children with dignity, respect, honesty...when we listen attentively, we validate their feelings, and we allow them to grow into who they are meant to be while we support, guide and encourage them...THAT'S when we create strong, functional parent/child relationships.
I know this because I live it. And because I guide other parents in the same methods. I help parents work though and resolve the triggers that come up when their child's (mis)behavior and angry words can be hurtful and they react by taking it personally.
This mom didn't become my client because she wanted a quick fix. She wanted me to give her the magic recipe for getting her daughter back on track. She didn't think it had anything to do with her parenting...she just thought it was the influence of her daughter's friends and social media taking a toll on their relationship.
And that's okay; she can continue down the same path and see what kind of relationship she has when her daughter is grown and gone.
I'm looking for parents who are willing to take ownership of the only thing that has a chance of changing the parent/child dynamic in the family...their own response and behavior.
Do you know someone who is struggling with their tween/teen/young adult child and who would be willing to look within in order to drive the change in their relationship? Share this post with them.
If it's you...let's talk. Take that leap. Fill in the form, don't waste any more time before you begin to repair the relationship with yourself, and with your child.