Archive for the ‘Teenagers’ Category

Growing Up as a Mother

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Now, we’re in a different place and a different time, and I need to become a different kind of mother. A mother who knows how to back off. A mother whose gaze is not quite so intently focused on her own two endlessly absorbing children, but who is engaged instead in a rich, full life of her own. A mother who cares a good deal less than she used to about what time people in her household go to bed, what they eat for breakfast, whether they wear coats or not, and what they choose to do, or not do, with their own time. A mother who, though her protective, maternal instincts run as fierce and deep as ever, manages, in all buextreme moments, to keep those instincts in check. A mother who trusts in who her children are, even if they aren’t exactly who she thinks they ought to be. Who keeps faith in their futures, even when the things they do, and the words they say, give her pause in the present. A mother who remembers, above all else, that the greatest gift she can give to her own two wildly different, nearly grown sons is the knowledge that, no matter what, she loves them both absolutely, just exactly as they are.

— Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, p. 265

A Mother of Young Men

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Now, we’re in a different place and a different time, and I need to become a different kind of mother. A mother who knows how to back off. A mother whose gaze is not quite so intently focused on her own two endlessly absorbing children, but who is engaged instead in a rich, full life of her own. A mother who cares a good deal less than she used to about what time people in her household go to bed, what they eat for breakfast, whether they wear coats or not, and what they choose to do, or not do, with their own time. A mother who, though her protective, maternal instincts run as fierce and deep as ever, manages, in all but extreme moments, to keep those instincts in check. A mother who trusts in who her children are, even if they aren’t exactly who she thinks they ought to be. Who keeps faith in their futures, even when the things they do, and the words they say, give her pause in the present. A mother who remembers, above all else, that the greatest gift she can give to her own two wildly different, nearly grown sons is the knowledge that, no matter what, she loves them both absolutely, just exactly as they are.

— Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, p. 265

My Job as a Parent

Monday, March 8th, 2010

It is always a relief to be reminded that my job is not to control, or judge, or change my son, but simply to help him remember, with words and touch, who he really is. Loving him this way, I am better able to find within myself the faith and patience necessary to survive his painful transformations. I know to hold a space for his beauty, even when it slips from sight. And I come a little bit closer to understanding his true essence, to remembering the goodness that resides just beneath the surface of even his very worst behavior, behavior that is usually rooted in fear and confusion and self-protection.

— Katrina Kenison, The Gift of an Ordinary Day, p. 169-170

Connections

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

All parents of teenagers are besieged with setting limits, negotiating guidelines, and generally looking out for the well-being of their children.  This is hard work.  Worse, if the above becomes the focus of your relationship with your teenager, you will not have the influence you desire.  Quite simply, the stronger your connection, the more influence you have with your teenager.  When you pay the same attention to your connection as you do to limits and guidelines, everything becomes easier and more effective.  But it takes work and creativity to foster this connection, most of it yours….

In short, connections matter, and the best way to teach this to your teenager is through your connection to each other during these tough adolescent years.  After all, one lesson you want your teenager to learn and carry forward into the rest of his or her life is that relationships and connections matter.  People on their deathbeds don’t wish they had worked more; instead, most people wish they had loved more.  This really means they wish they had learned to love and to stay connected when relationships became complicated and tough.  And adolescence is about as tough as it gets, so staying connected now is the best training you will ever have or need.

— Michael Riera, PhD, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 260

Teenagers and Guilt

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Before going further, remind yourself of some of the key dynamics at play in your teenager:  extreme self-consciousness, idealized independence, and an abundance of ego.  Now imagine how guilt plays out in that natural psychosocial triumvirate that your teenager calls self.  Guilt is everywhere!  No matter that your teenager doesn’t give you a glimpse of his guilt, you need to know that it’s there, everyday.  And in huge portions.  He just hides it behind the closed bedroom door and the loud music blasting from his stereo.

In brief, guilt is part and parcel of every teenager.  If you heap on needless portions, it blows up in your face, which means hasta la vista to the connection between you and your teenager.  Focus on his integrity and stop short of playing the parent martyr.

— Michael Riera, PhD, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 163

Consequences and Support

Monday, June 30th, 2008

When it comes to discipline (which at heart means to teach), there are two different, yet complementary, components: consequences and support. Teenagers need consequences to get them to consider and reflect upon what they have done. In essence, the consequence makes space for the learning. But make no mistake about it, the consequence seldom, if ever, does the teaching. Support is what enables your teenager to realize that she had other options that she could have and should have chosen. But most important, support helps her to understand why she did what she did, which goes a long way to preventing another lapse in her choices farther down the road.

— Michael Riera, PhD, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 159-160

Failure and Integrity

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

When teenagers let themselves fall short by failing to hold onto their integrity, they simultaneously have a tremendous opportunity to reaffirm themselves and their integrity.  That is, without failures, they do not learn how valuable their integrity is to their well-being.  And this is the ultimate paradox of successfully raising teenagers:  They need to experience a bunch of failures along the way to adulthood.  And how we handle their failures and how we teach them to address these missteps is crucial.

— Michael Riera, PhD, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 155

Counting to Ten

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

When your teenagers were kids, some relative or perhaps even your child’s pediatrician passed on to you the age-old wisdom of counting to ten before saying no to your children.  This practice leaves your kids feeling listened to and gives you some reflection time to consider whether no is indeed what you want to say. . . .  When your child reaches adolescence, this practice of counting to ten before saying no needs an upgrade.

Now instead of counting to ten before saying no, you need to count to ten before saying anything!  That is, when whatever they are saying activates your anxiety, that’s when you need to stay quiet and expectant for ten seconds, which gets you a passing grade on the test your teenager is putting you through.  Will you listen even when the stakes go up and make you nervous?  Your counting to ten slowly and staying silent gives her the time to realize that you are respecting her independence (you aren’t brushing her aside), that it is a tough situation (you don’t have an easy answer), that you believe in her (the expectant look on your face and in your demeanor), that you won’t try to control her (you’re not lecturing her), and that you won’t abandon her (you’re still there).  In other words, lots happens in those ten seconds of quiet.

— Michael Riera, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 108-109

Mastery Over Compliance

Friday, May 9th, 2008

We stay connected with our teenagers as they pursue their independence not by trying to make them compliant to our wishes but by staying focused on their developing mastery in and over their lives.  Our job is to help them become experts on themselves and to help them discover what they want for themselves.  This is definitely not top-down parenting, but neither is it laissez-faire parenting.  Instead, this approach recognizes that healthy teenagers need to struggle with and for their autonomy; when parents recognize and embrace this developmental reality, the relationship is able to sidestep many of the struggles associated with stereotypical teenage rebellion.  Issues of independence and dependence, viewed through the goal of mastery, become a continuum rather than a dichotomy.

— Michael Riera, PhD, Staying Connected to Your Teenager, p. 95

Connection

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Psychologists and various social scientists often talk about the theoretical concept of separation, and the need for adolescents to separate from their parents and families and establish their independence.  Adolescence is thought of as a time when teenagers venture out on their own to discover themselves, so that they can come back to their families as fully individuated adults.  Fat chance.  The simplistic notion of independence versus dependence in the context of separation is outdated and inaccurate — if indeed it ever was a reflection of reality — and it needlessly pits parents and teenagers against one another.  Connection is the foundation of a healthy parent-teenager relationship — a connection that is based on interdependence.

Therefore, you need to erase the idea of separation from your mind and replace it with the concept of extension.  That is, during adolescence teenagers need to extend away from their parents, all the while staying connected to their parents.  Their job is to extend; your job is to connect.

Staying Connected To Your Teenager:  How To Keep Them Talking To You and How To Hear What They’re Really Saying, by Michael Riera, PhD, p. 4