Seeing the Inner Light

True healers take into account any type of darkness, but their real task is to see the Light in their clients so as to help them remember and consciously reconnect to their own inner Light. In this way, both healer and client are healed together. Parenting is the same. The ultimate gift of a parent to a child is to care for the inner Light of children until they can care for it themselves. True friends are those who believe in you through thick and thin. They still see the Light in you even when your moods and behavior are dark and low. Mentors, managers, leaders, visionaries, peacemakers, and everyone who truly serves . . . they all see the Light.

— Robert Holden, PhD, Happiness Now! p. 29

Like Being a Child

If you try to see being a parent as something bound and dictated by certain behaviors and rules, you are in for big trouble.  Being a parent is no different than being a child.  If it becomes a set of rigid rules you must live by, life loses its joy and becomes a state of constant criticism.  Talk with your mate, too, about giving yourselves some of the freedom the children have.  Make fun of yourselves and your quirks so you can laugh and relax. The world is a serious enough place.  Lighten up and be a joyful example to your family rather than a slave to the arbitrary expectations of conformity.

— Bernie Siegel, MD, Love, Magic & Mudpies, p. 76


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

In Charge of No One But Ourselves

It bears repeating:  We are not in charge of others!  Not their behavior, their thoughts, their dreams, their problems, their successes, or their failures.

Even the children we parent have their own journey to make, and our so-called control over them is, in fact, an illusion.  We can set an example for them, we can suggest a set of behaviors, we can demonstrate a code of ethics, we can even require that they live by certain “house rules” while under our roof, but finally it is they who will decide who they want to be and what they want to do, regardless of our efforts.  And for that we will become grateful in time.

I say:  Let’s celebrate the fact that we are in charge of no one but ourselves.  It relieves us of a heavy burden, and a thankless job, one that never blesses us.  Taking control of every thought we have and every action we take, and being willing to relinquish the past while savoring the present, will assuredly keep us as busy as we need to be.  Doing these things, and only these things is why we are here.  It’s only when we live our own lives and manage our own affairs, freeing others to do the same, that we find the peace we seek and so deserve.

— Karen Casey, Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow:  12 Simple Principles, p. 8-9

Teenagers and Guilt

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

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

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

Mastery Over Compliance

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

Give More Love

If there’s bad behaviour, the quickest way of stopping it is to give more love.  That always works, you know.  People say that we must punish when there is wrongdoing, but if you punish you’re only punishing yourself.  And what’s the point of that?

— Mma Potokwane in The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, by Alexander McCall Smith


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