Monday, March 22, 2021

Looking Forward And Letting Go!! Living With Your Teen In A Post Pandemic World

 I've said this before and I will say it again!! All your kids will be fine in the end, even with a year of pandemic isolation, loss of normalcy and no real school.  Unless there is severe mental illness or severe family trauma, by the time your teen hits their 20's, this year will be a blur, and they will adore being at home, desirous of your input and advice about their life, and unbelievably fun to hang out with. So take a deep breath, pleeese!

The way I see it, in my experience, after 40 years of working with families, and raising one of my own, there are only three real parenting mistakes that can change the outcome of your child's life.

First is the too strict or rigid parenting style. If you are the party of NO, my way or the highway, or you have a ton of rules way past the time that kids need rules for everything, and you have extremely high expectations for your teen's academic performance, you run some risks.

Risk #1: Adolescence is all about independence. If you continue to write the script for your teen's life they will react in one of two ways. If they feel over-controlled, over-managed, and have to answer to too many rules, some kids will be forced to act out to get the freedom their brain and their body are telling them they should have. By acting out I mean lying, hostility and anger, deliberate school failure, drug and alcohol use or abuse and avoiding you at every turn. This can feel like armed warfare. These teens need to learn how to make decisions on their own. These are the kids that often bail on college. As soon as they hit campus, and experience that first taste of freedom, all control and discipline, no matter how much you have drilled it in to them is gone. They have never actually learned how to be self-disciplined, or internalized the rules and structure that you imposed. As young children structure and control is good, as teens you need to share and encourage with supervision your teen's innate drive to be independent. After a year of suffocating closeness to your kids, this will feel weird, also a relief! You have had to worry about school, getting sick, depression, anxiety and loss. These are extremely weighty issues, that often you only have had to deal with one at a time. This year all at once. It will feel weird to let go!!

Risk #2: Some teens who are over controlled and over-managed become extremely passive. They have developed what is call learned-helplessness. What they integrate is a lack of complete confidence in their ability to make decisions, and look to you for direction in all parts of their life. This is not healthy. These teens are lovely to have in the home because they never fight with you, and come to you often for help. For a parent, there is nothing like it. However in life, you will not always be available.  When it comes to adult relationships whether romantically, with friends,  or with bosses or colleagues they will rarely speak up for themselves, and open themselves up  to be taken advantage of, thinking that they don't know better. These kids need to learn to have confidence in their own ability to make decisions, and that what they want matters. I have learned through my college students that they have felt a lot of worry about their families and wanting to make sure they literally don't die. Because of this and most importantly because of the pandemic, they have ventured out very little except for school. These kinds of kids, if you have one of them, may need a real push out of the nest!

Risk #3 is the too permissive parent. This parent maybe has an unspoken rule, do well in school, and I will ignore everything else. Or maybe, your philosophy is that your teens should be able to manage their own lives, or maybe the parent's life is in chaos with a divorce, or other family crisis, and takes their "eye of the ball" being too involved in their own life events. Rather than too many rules, there are no rules, no expectations, no supervision. These are the parents with the blind eye. A blind eye to what goes on in their own basements with their teens and their friends, a blind eye to where and what their teens are doing when they are out and about, and a blind eye to their teens safety. Teens are by nature risk-takers. Sometimes those risks can be life-threatening, either physically or psychologically. Teens need to know that someone is looking out for their welfare, even if they fight you tooth and nail when you do. When these kids move into adulthood, they are often entitled, irresponsible young adults, who look towards you to bail them out when they act badly, perhaps its is financially, or legally. These now grown up kids, can't or don't feel like managing the mundane of life, and will constantly look to you to do it for them, even well into adulthood.

So these are the three biggies. Everything else in between, usually works itself out. Parenting a teen is about setting enough limits to keep your teen safe, and give enough leeway for them to practice decision making, knowing that they will make mistakes, that they will hate you some days, and knowing that underlying it all is love. Your love for them, and their love for you. It really is as simple as that.

This is a very interesting article about the consequence of "over-parenting" when your kids hit the real world.

Did you know that I do one session parent coaching? Yes that's right. We get right to it, and by the end of that one session you have a plan and strategy for whatever issue you are facing! To set up a zoom appointment call
 781-910-1770 or email me at

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

It's Been A Long Time Coming!

 It's been a long time since I posted my last blog. This has surprised me, as have many things about living through a pandemic! I have always been a high-energy, forward thinking, glass-full kind of gal. My blog has never been a choice for me about whether to write or video, it was just something I did....until I didn't. For the last 10 months, with MORE than enough time on my hands, I would have thought that I would have been writing more, not less. In fact, I would have expected my blogs to be epic and inspirational, and guide parents through this unprecedented time, and who knows maybe I would have even been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. You know, like  Jared Kushner. But alas, I have done just the opposite, and that has been a huge surprise to me, and I feel both a disappointment in myself, and also a curiosity about where and how we find our motivation.

Which of course leads me to all of you. It is you that have inspired me! It is you who should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. It is you that has brought peace to your families, your children, your parents, your community. You don't have the narcissistic luxury like me of deciding "whether of not." You just do, you just keep on going, buying your groceries, provide sustenance to your family, teach your children, adapt to a new work environment, help older people like me get vaccinated. ( I am proud to say I am half vaccinated and did it 'all by myself!" I have worked with many parents over the last year either though coaching or webinars, and one of the things that stood out for me was that for all the amazing work of juggling and problem solving that they and you have been doing, there has been an overriding feeling of not exactly failure, but of not being good enough. There have been so many times parents have described the feeling of losing control. Fights with kids blowing up, fights with partners blowing up, and complete exasperation with systems you can't control and blowing up. Blowing up being the actionable word. Seriously how could you not blow up!! You must be tired, and feel depleted at times. And I hope at other times feel a sense of pride that you have coped and that your kids have coped, and that your partner has coped, and that your community and school has coped. 

We will look back on this year of covid and take stock of how sustained stress takes its toll on individuals, on families, on schools, on business and on communities. Some of us...yes me has suffered with a major drop in motivation. Maybe your kids, after a year of zoom schooling are feeling this lack of motivation,  and a lack of desire to engage, not only with school, but with the family and maybe even with friends. I know that feeling well. Without the energy and fuel of living life normally, I have too easily dropped out. My circle of connections has become quite small, and my energy to get out of the house and do more than the absolute minimum is low. 

But here is what I truly believe. I truly believe that we will find our new normal. I say new, because we have all changed over this year. We have learned things about ourselves, our resilience, our creativity, our connection to family, discovered perhaps new things about ourselves, both bad and good. I took up making candle holders from concrete ( I know so random), I learned to build Adirondack chairs from scratch, and refinish old ones. All of this is to say there have been the yin and yang of this year, and whatever it has been, it will now be a part of me.

Your kids will take away so much from this learned experience that will truly last a lifetime. It will become part of their personal story and history in a way that doing a calculus problem or term paper won't. The life skills they have learned and integrated, will serve them quite well as they move into adulthood. So when you get frustrated and worried for their future. I will tell you not to be. Look at me, I thought I would never write another blog, and here I am blathering endlessly to you. What got me to write today, truly I think I felt I was losing a little bit of myself that I needed to find again. The time just felt right, and that is what resilience is all about. A belief and innate need for self preservation. We all have it, sometimes  we lose it for a time, but it is always ready to be accessible when we are ready! Trust in your children, and most importantly trust in yourselves. 

I am getting back in gear here. If there is anything you would like me to write about, please put in comment section. Also I have been doing small group zoom groups that have been a lot of fun, except I have to put make up on. If you have a group of friends who are all dealing with the same issues. Pour a glass a wine, and we can meet at our local zoom bar! 

Take care