Just got back from Yoga class, feeling blissed out and thought I would pass on my "blissiness" to you. I know that this blog is often scary as I alert you to all the dangers lurking out there for your teens. And I think my blog probably mirrors your experience as a parent of a teen, spending a lot of your time and energy staying on top of your teen's academic life, social life, family life and responsibilities, etc. I think often we forget to take the time to "smell the roses". Your teen is in full bloom (to continue with the flower metaphor), and I know you take pleasure in this process of 'becoming". We just get caught up trying to keep the weeks out of the garden!
Whenever I do a coaching session with parents, obviously we are spending the time looking at the negative. My teen has an attitude, my teen is lazy, my teen won't do their homework, my teen lies, my teen...fill in the blank. At the end of every session I ask parents to tell me what they like, admire, and love about their teen. It is important to help them see those things that can often get lost in the muck.
One parent whose son was doing badly in school, putting in no effort, told me how proud she was of his ability to be independent. Taking the "T" back and forth into Boston daily from the burbs to pursue his passion and interest in sailing. That is motivation. OK school, having difficulty, but when he finds something he loves, his motivation and persistence is amazing. Another parent, discouraged with her daughter's sneakiness, and lack of effort in school, then told me of how funny her daughter is, how people are so drawn to her. This girl has a significant medical problem that as a teen is important to manage, and has some learning challenges, and is doing the best she can under some difficult circumstances. Another parent after spending an hour venting about all the things her son isn't doing, then told me about his love of music, and theater, and after moving to a new high school had found his place pursuing these interests and making new friends. This showed a promising resilience to change. And finally the parents who have very high expectation for their daughter academically, which the daughter reaches for, have goals for her to pursue her musical talent, which she reaches for, playing in an invitation only orchestra, have high expectations that she will do chores, keep her room clean, and be respectful to her parents. It is on those things she falls down, and it is on those things her parents focus on.
Are you getting the message. No kid is perfect, your kid isn't perfect, and perhaps he/she is engaging in risky behaviors that are scaring the hell out of you, or won't talk to you, or won't reach for their potential, or is generally unlikable. Its probably been hard to find the joy in the relationship, and your teen gets your disappointment in him/her. So try this to break the cycle. Maybe leave a card or send a text to your teen saying, "I know things have been hard for us lately. I just want to say I love you and I know we will figure it out. " Or maybe something that shows you do notice the small stuff. " You have so many wonderful friends in your life, You have such a wonderful way with people. Or "you are one funny guy". Your kids need to know that in spite of the hard stuff between you, you love and appreciate who they are, and who you know they will become. Don't we all need that?