What it’s like to live with teens

When I try to sit next to him on the couch, he blocks me with his feet. When I reach out for a hug, he turns away. Anytime I try to contribute to a conversation, he tells me I’m wrong. If I dare to ask him questions, I get arguments.

As I type this, there is an enormous pile of dirty tissues sitting on the coffee table next to a stack of dirty dishes, all his. Nearby lays a laundry basket of clean and wrinkling clothes that I naively asked him to fold. Today is his “dish day” and the dishwasher remains full and will until I remind him.

Raising a teenager presents us with a lot of challenges. Today, I’m challenged with the question,

Why, in the world, do I think I am the luckiest Mom on the planet?

Here I am making him a cup of tea and preparing him a snack. Why? Why do I offer to bring him a cup of tea, when he never offers to bring any for me?

Because of my thoughts.

My thoughts accept reality, instead of argue with it.

“He’s doing his job as a teenager.”  “This is what it’s like to live with a teen.”

My thoughts are present focused. When I do futurize, my thoughts feel good, not disastrous.

“He’ll learn this next year.” “I hope he has a tolerant roommate.” or “He’s thoughtful in many other ways.”

I stay in my own business and don’t make it about me (This one took me a while to learn!)

“I’ve done my job to teach him how to treat me, it’s his job whether he does it or not.”  “He’s very thoughtful to others, this just his way of separating.” “At least he’s not a ‘Mama’s Boy’”.

Senior year is an emotional roller coaster. I need to make it as easy on myself as I can. Am I being naive? Tolerating more than I should? Maybe. All I know is that loving this crazy teen and feeling peaceful, feels better than being annoyed. 

Sometimes teens shit in the nest before they leave it.

It’s an important time to be really compassionate towards yourself.

If you need help finding peace while raising your teenager, sign up for a free life coaching call.

How to win a power struggle

Some kids seem to be born to fight for power. As parents, we look for our child’s “currency”. We need to know if our kids value screen time, dessert, or outings with friends so that we can use it to lure them into good behavior. But what if your child’s currency is power? What if he rebels against your ideas, suggestions and rules, simply because they are YOURS? Young female teenager annoyed by angry mother

Trevor was a sweet, yet strong-willed four year old. He started going pee in the potty when he was 3 and enjoyed the power of standing and watching himself go like his Daddy. His parents tried to get him to sit on the toilet and go #2 for over a year but he wasn’t interested. Instead he would call to his Mom to come and put a diaper on him every time he needed to poop. She tried everything to get him to sit on the toilet but HE knew that was what SHE wanted. If he complied, it would be HER victory, not his, and he just couldn’t give her that. They were in a power struggle and he wanted to feel powerful more than anything else. It wasn’t until she stopped paying attention and caring that he felt free to use the toilet.

The fighting for independence we see in toddlers is very similar to the fighting for independence we see in teenagers. Lying, sneaking, manipulating can all be ways kids assert themselves as separate from their parents. The push and pull of affection is another common sign your child is developing a separate identity with hugs and cuddles one minute, and recoiling away like you have a contagious disease the next. It’s important to take a look at what you REALLY care about. If you REALLY care about your daughter’s good grades and study habits to the point that it’s a daily conversation, that’s probably where she’s going to rebel against you. If she surrendered to your will, and started studying and getting good grades, she could see this as you winning the power struggle. Teenagers want to feel powerful so it’s possible she would sacrifice her grades, to feel like she is winning.

There really is no way to win a power struggle. The best way to win a power struggle is not to enter into one. Often, if the parent “wins” it’s because they have dampened the child’s spirit, taken away their power, shown a lack of empathy and lost of trust in the relationship. If the child “wins” they learned to ignore people’s boundaries, that they are more powerful than their parent (which is scary for a kid), and that they can’t trust their parent to protect them from potential dangers.
If you have a strong-willed child, it’s important to give them a wide berth. Try to give them as many opportunities to feel powerful as possible. When kids play with toys, create imaginary worlds, and make believe, they are the king or queen of their world. As they grow older, they can take charge of what to make for dinner, how to decorate their room, how, when and where to study, choose their clothes and hair styles, things like that. When you do want to set a clear, firm boundary, plan on engaging them in the conversation. Explain your logic calmly, get their input, feedback and cooperation. When they feel their desire for power is respected, it’s easier for them to respect your boundaries and trust you to have their back.

Are you signed up for the free Raising Teens webinar on October 13? www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/got-teens