Living with a teenager can be glorious (yes it can) and hellish. The ups and downs can be nausea producing like the scariest roller coaster you can think of. Unfortunately, because the negatives are often louder, and I mean that both metaphorically and literally, think slammed doors, and screaming fights, the smaller, more subtle successes go unnoticed or fade into the background. I'm not talking here about good grades on a report card, or a turn as the star of the school musical or a great play on the soccer field, but a nice moment with a grandparent or sibling or with you. Maybe a time when your teen was challenged in a new way either academically, or with friends and the frustration gave way to a meaningful resolution. Often these very special moments are drowned out by the multitude of daily life crisis, that your teen doesn't have the opportunity to integrate them into their developing personal identity:Not " I am someone who can rise to a challenge!" but rather "I get so frustrated and can't do it!" They cannot see the forest through the trees, and they need an objective 3rd party to remind them. Now this is not always easy for parents to do, because maybe your patience has been sorely tested, and those nice moments have slipped by you as well, as you deal with your daily frustrations with your teen.
Here is a tonic for that frustration. How about starting a new New Year's tradition. There are Year In Review segments everywhere you look, best books of 2015, best movies of 2015, etc. How about your teen's best moments of 2015. Sit down with an old fashion pen and paper and write your teen a letter that comes straight from the heart. Emphasis the small moments that you either observed or were party to when your teen surprised you, delighted you and reminded you about what a special and unique person he/she is. This will serve two purposes, first to let your teen know that no matter what, no matter how difficult life gets during these teen years, you love and admire them. You are the most important person in your teen's life, and especially if they feel they have disappointed you this past year, a letter like this can totally turn things around. Who doesn't love to be told they are special and wonderful. Write the letter, and leave it on their pillow some night, don't ask or expect anything in return. Because the moment they sit with your words and feel your love in the privacy of their own room will be the best gift you could give. Have a wonderful holiday week, see you after the 1st.