Are teenagers driving you crazy and you have no idea how to deal with them? Here’s a video I made to help make sense of this craziness.
Are teenagers driving you crazy because these days there’s no respect, and they’ve got influenced by social media, their peers, and everyone leading them astray? Or is it because these days, everybody is so entitled? They get everything so easy, and so teenagers just don’t want to try anymore… or is it something else?
Before I answer that, I’m actually going to give you a hint. It’s not what everybody thinks, and I have a big promise for you; that if you stay here through this video, in sha Allah, that you’re going to walk away with a better understanding or at least a direction to go from here with your teenager.
So, what is going on with our relationship with our teenagers? A lot of the time we blame hormones, we blame social media, we blame friends, we blame TV shows that are teaching disrespect. You know, we are caught up in looking for external reasons why our relationships with our teenagers are breaking down — when in fact, the answer actually lies within; it doesn’t lie out there. In fact, the more we try and find the answers out there and fix the answers out there, the more we’re actually going to feel crazy and not get anywhere.
Teenagers are going through a different stage in their life. If you look at it from a neuroscience perspective, there’s a lot of changes going on in their brain. It’s called this phase where their brain is pruning. Neurons are pruning neuro
networks–that sort of thing–working out what that brain needs to keep and what it needs to check out. It’s basically a big housecleaning going on and just like — I don’t know about you, but when I do housecleaning or when I do a big spring clean, everything gets a bit messier before it gets tidier again because I pull everything out, sort everything out, and put everything back and get rid of everything what I don’t need. And that’s essentially what’s going on in your teenagers’ brain, and so it’s quite understandable that there are patches in their teenage years where they are finding themselves doing things that they logically know are silly things to do. But for some reason, they don’t seem to be able to stop themselves. They don’t seem to be able to prevent it from happening. So just like when we are doing spring cleaning, the house gets messier before it gets cleaner. Just like that.
That’s one side of the dance, because I said it’s an emotional dance between us and our teenagers.
Outside is also a little bit interesting. So, we’re looking for external reasons or ways of fixing the situation. In fact, most of us believe that if our teenagers just behaved like this, or did this, or did that, then we would feel happy. But the reality is, that our feelings about the situation are not coming from our teenager but possibly coming from the experiences we had as a teenager that are getting in the way of us really connecting with our teenagers. So let me explain that a little bit more. You’re probably thinking, “What is this woman talking about?”
Teenage years seem to have always been something that is a struggle, generation after generation. And it’s a time when parents are starting to get tired by the time their children are teenagers, they have been parenting for a long time. They have been doing this parenting thing for ages. And they are getting a bit tired and it’s possibly a time in their life when they’re also trying to make other things happen. Teenagers require a lot more financially and you’ve got lots of things on your mind. And so a lot of teenagers go thru those teenage years with a very confused relationship with their parents and we’re no different. We might be parents now but once upon a time, we were the teenagers in that relationship. If we go back and look at how our relationship was and how we felt when we were growing up, then we can start to understand that our reality and our parent’s reality at that time are quite different. And the same thing is happening now between us and our teenagers.
One example I can give you is my son; when he was thirteen, he had a very, very difficult year. Everything went off-track for him; it was his first year of high school, in Year 8. He had a lot of issues come up for him. And his default in all of that was to give in–to give up. My Year 8, if I go back to when I was thirteen, I can see that it was the hardest year in my life. It was a very difficult year for me. There was a lot of things going on: there were deaths in the family, there was abuse from somebody — sexual abuse. So there was a lot of things going on for me.
I had a very miserable time when I was thirteen, and my solution was to really focus on doing everything I possibly could to make school the positive place of my life. I was getting as many A’s as I possibly could. I was involved in as many curricular activities as I could — developing my leadership skills, and developing so many skills because I was involved with so many things. I was turning the negativity of my life into a positive.
When my son — going through not the same sorts of problems as me but also some very difficult problems — chose the opposite way of dealing with his challenges and just giving up. I had a lot of big feelings about that, although I didn’t realize that there were my feelings and that were connected to my pain when I from when I was 13. Instead I was looking at like it’s his fault. If he could just do this or if he could just do that, then I would feel better. But the reality is that it has nothing to do with him. It’s my own beliefs, my own thoughts that were coming into play and creating that difficult feeling for me. And when I had those feelings, it meant that I was being really hard on him and really harsh on him, which is exactly the opposite of what he needed at the time. What he needed at the time was me to be his ally, for me to be able to be there with him and help him work through his challenges. But, I couldn’t do that because of my own feelings and the way I felt about everything.
It is a dance between the emotions that are going on between us and our teenager. Our teenager is going through this massive brain pruning thing where everything’s pretty much running amok in their world. And my emotions were getting involved and getting in the way of me being able to connect well with him and be with him as his ally.
We can no longer think in terms of, “we need to control them.” You can’t control them at this stage; they have their own minds. All children have their own minds, but as teenagers we need to be able to be their ally as they work towards independence. And we can’t do that when our feelings are in the way. And if you have a lot of feelings coming up, all of the time, it’s not your teenager but it’s what’s going on in your thoughts and the way you’re thinking that is causing you to feel that way. But it appears like it’s your child’s behavior, and so therefore you have to fix your child’s behavior, and that’s why it breaks down on it. It doesn’t work.
Of course friendships that aren’t really positive friendships, TV program, social media, and all the things I’ve said in the beginning do play a role in this. But the key role here or the key factor here why you think your teenager is driving you crazy is actually coming from within you. And so therefore, it’s actually really empowering because you can do something about that. If we try and fix everything from the outside in order to fix this situation, we’re just going to go crazy. That’s not possible. We fix one thing, something else will go wrong. But when it comes to what’s going on inside of us, we can work on that. We are able to do something with that. And that’s why this a very exciting thing to understand when you’re dealing with a teenager.
I’ve put it into practice in my children’s lives. My oldest child was 13 when I started Parenting from the Peaceful Place Inside. He’s nearly 19 now. Just a while ago he was leaving to go to work while I was on the phone, and he was busy distracting me by giving me kisses all over my cheek. (Now, what 19-year-old boy does that to their mum?) The other day, he came up and he gave me this big hug because he wasn’t feeling really great and he just talked, and talked and talked in my ear about all the things that were going on for him and what he was struggling with. That is the result of putting this into practice on aiming to be his ally rather than his controller. The reality is, we don’t have control over our children and nor should we even be thinking in terms of trying to control them. We need to be our children’s ally — from little to big — especially as teenagers. And the only way we can do that is to understand where our feelings are coming from, and take charge of our own feelings so that we are not playing that emotional dance with our teenagers. We are actually being there, calmly, peacefully, and being their ally. Being their rock that they need as they venture out into the world. In sha Allah.
So I am building a Peaceful Parenting Mastermind for those parents who are really keen to actually turn things around and really make it happen. Those that are really wanting to get on top of those crazy feelings that they’re having, and want to be able to parent from a peaceful place inside. If you feel that you’re someone who’s really got what it takes and really wants to do it and really wants to take charge of this, please send me a private message and introduce yourself – who you are, what your challenges are a little bit, and we’ll work out a time to connect and see if what I’m doing is something that might be interesting to you. I hope that you benefited from this. I would love for everybody to type in the messages what you took away from this. What is something different or inside or something that is really important from this that you took away from it. Just give me some feedback and see if I’m actually getting the message through. That would really help me a lot. I really appreciate it. Now I’m going to see if there are any questions here. No, no questions for the moment. Until next time. In sha Allah!
P.S. For more resources about parenting teenagers, go to PeacefulParentingTeens.com.
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