I am not sure anything can prepare you for your kids becoming teenagers and not acting like they need you anymore. Such a painful time as a Mom. I am sure it is hard for Dad’s too. Here’s an area where I definitely don’t have all the answers and could certainly use support.
I witnessed my sisters go through it as my nieces struggled to find themselves in their teenage years as well. Now I see they are back and have grown to be mature loving amazing young women. That gives me hope my girls will make me feel I am nice to be around again someday.
Now I find myself grasping on to those moments where my teenage daughters open up even if it is 1am. In all the attempts to talk during normal hours when I am wide awake, not sure why my teenage daughters decide they finally want to open up when I seem most exhausted? Regardless, I struggle to stay awake just to listen because who knows when the next time will be where she decides to let me into her world.
Then too many times after a night of listening that person who you devoted your full attention to seems to forget all of it the next day and wonders why you even bother to try and give her a hug good morning.
How is it you can love someone so deeply and yet have moments where you can dislike them for their selfish thinking and how they can turn on you so quickly? Then in a moment they return so sweet and you wonder what they want.
It is these years where I would like to be tougher. Where I wish my joy wasn’t so dependent on needing to feel needed other than for money. Or even feel like I matter to them.
Thankfully there are those moments where times get tough they come to you for an ear because they know you will be there for them. Those times when they say “I love you too.” You say to yourself “whew I am doing okay. I haven’t totally screwed this parenting thing up.”
As hard as it is some days. I know I am lucky. I have heard stories from other parents that have made me cry. Stories of parents losing their kids to drug addictions, to mental illnesses, suicide, and numerous other painful stories.
With social media and the pressures kids are under we parents are all searching for help. Searching for techniques to communicate with our kids. To know if you are doing a good job or not. What is the right way? When should I be a friend? When should I lay down hard punishments? When should I set their curfew? What is reasonable? Am I being too protective or too easy?
We have to remind ourselves, no one is perfect. No matter how much you hear about “my kid got a full scholarship” or “my kid did…” no kid is perfect either. They could be suffering from internal pressure and looking for ways to escape it.
All I know is what doesn’t work. When I try to control, I get no where. All we can do is listen, empathize, influence and lead by example.
No matter how much I want to protect, they need to make some mistakes and learn how to persevere. Otherwise they will struggle as an adult. They will let themselves be controlled as a spouse or collapse at difficult times in their life versus rely on their strength to see things thru.
One of my favorite parental advice books is The Highly Heathy Child by Walt Larimore, M.D. It helped me realize at an early time in parenting that kids want to be heard just like anyone. When you give them your full attention and listen for how they feel and show them you want to understand then they are more willing to ask for help and be open to your suggestions. If you give advice too quick they can’t think for themselves or feel you think they can’t handle it on their own which hurts their trust in themselves.
Also if how we label or critic them matters so I try to keep in mind the quote, “What you expect is what you get.”
Some good notes I have taken from Randy Creamer the lead counselor at Southbrook Church to influence rather than control is and reinforce positive expectations are by saying:
I believe in you
I trust you
I know how responsible you are
I know you take care of your things
Your stronger than you think you are
You are capable
I have learned when I say things like it sounds like you were really hurt by … it gets them to open up and feel safe to share what they are thinking “more”.
When mistakes are made it works well to hold them accountable and then finish with ..”I love you no matter what.” That unconditional love seems to always bring them back.
May this post help you and know that you are not alone.
Please check out the resources and links for further help. Or if you have any helpful tips I am sure everyone would like you to share in the comments.
If your child is severely withdrawn and or struggles with the stress of trying to be perfect and their is concern with depression or suicide please seek help.
Hear from a parent who lost her son to suicide and what steps you can take for prevention.