Catch them doing something right . . .

In times of challenge, it can be easy to focus on what isn't working. However, these are also the times to make doubly sure that what is going well gets just as much focus.

Six important values to consider at home:

  1. Self-Respect
    All of us—and especially teens—wish to be seen and treated for the unique individuals that we are. As a parent, modeling good self-care, appropriate boundaries, and asking for what you want (not telling or demanding) will go a long way.
  2. Self-Expression
    Many teens feel as though democracy stops at the front door. “What do you think?” are some of the most powerful words a teen can hear. At the same time, a successful democracy thrives in the atmosphere of strong leadership.
  3. Recognition
    Are you seeing your teen make a lot of mistakes? Work just as hard to catch them doing something right. All children need to discover that top-notch effort will be noticed, appreciated, and rewarded.
  4. Teamwork
    Families tend to be as strong as their weakest link. Especially in times of change, teens and other family members need to be involved in the process. Every person is affected by the change one way or another.
  5. Emotional Security
    Teens thrive in an home environment where they can trust their parents and can relax in the knowledge that they will be treated fairly and loyally. It is parents' responsibility to demonstrate this.

Remember—it is appropriate for teens to challenge their parents and their world. The goal is to find safe, creative, self-supportive ways to do it. Therapy can do just that.

A Maturing Process . . . For You Too

“Anytime we think the problem is 'out there', that thought is the problem. We empower what's out there to control us. The change paradigm is 'outside-in'—what's out there has to change before we can change.

“The proactive approach is to change from the inside-out; to be different, and by being different, to effect positive change in what's out there—I can be more resourceful, I can be more diligent, I can be more creative, I can be more cooperative.”
Stephen Covey

Covey's words remind us that perhaps part of what is most challenging about the teenage years is that we have our adult world challenged in so many ways. When that is upsetting, it can be easiest to make our upset about them, expecting them to change and yet not ourselves.

Raising children means we also get to return to any unfinished business from our own childhoods—feelings of loneliness, anger, invisibility, disappointment, isolation, confusion, as well as the sweetness, joy, love, freedom, and possibility.

Successful parenting will require in some part that we are willing to learn and grow too, even as we may feel it's time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our earlier labors. When parents are willing to do their own inner work, children tend to learn and grow faster, mature quicker, and feel less isolated and in conflict.

There is no greater gift to give a child than resolving your own internal conflicts that may remain from your own childhood. As you set yourself free from the past, you give your children permission to embrace their freedom too.