We live in a world that really is rough on our teenagers. Parents fear this time in life. Use a slew of negative words to describe their teenagers, that I’d rather not support by even using. I wanna add more voices to the teenagers are awesome chorus that I think we all ought to be singing.
I have a teenager. Have since May. And before that I was lucky to have a number of teenagers in my life. I gotta tell you they are awesome human beings. I mean I like all the ages and stages for different reasons but teenagers are really rocking my world right now.
I’m gonna tell you why, teenagers are in what, from an outside observer, appears to be a pretty magical place. Transforming parts of themselves toward independence, some might say adulthood, while still having access to the freedoms of childhood. In a real tactile way. The sounds, movements, feelings and imagining that happen in childhood are still fresh enough in their minds that they can pull it up and engage in the parts of themselves that could play with wild abandon for hours. Take that and put it into some of the areas or passions that are calling at their hearts. I look on with some serious jealousy. Think about if for a second, we can pull up tons of research on the benefits of play for children. How it truly is the best way for them to learn. Then you bump into child who has been given a childhood built on the sort of play that opens the world of magic up to them and now their interests are maturing. But they still have the ability to throw themselves on to an idea, a topic an interest with total full loose your self immersion. That shits powerful.
Now let’s debunk some of this other stuff that people like to stay about teenagers. That they are moody. Take a breath people, we are all moody. We all react to what is going on in the world both outside of ourselves and inside of ourselves. Are we really going to expect that a less experienced person have a better handle on this then we ourselves do. How about instead we all agree right here right now that being a human being in this world is a big hard job. And that when the world feels overwhelming for those around us, we drop our guard lean in for a hug and fill the other person (who every they may be) up with an extra dose of compassion.
Oh and then there is the defiance that some folks want to complain about. Teenagers are transitioning into an more adult space. Figuring out who they want to be, what they want to believe in and how they may challenge some of the ideas that are out in the world. And guess what, they trust us, their parents, enough try their new ideas out on us. We are supposed to be that safe space for them. The ones to take the heat and keep on loving them. To be the sounding board that helps them learn how to deliver a message so the recipient truly can hear what they are trying to say. So let’s celebrate these little victories, that our child is one wanting to be independent of us and two trusts us enough to try out these new ideas all over us. Let’s flip it around and see what’s really going on and drop our own need to be right or hold all the power. Let’s be their ally.
And talking back is not something they are doing to us. It’s an attempt at a conversation in which one asserts an opinion that may be contrary to what we were hoping to hear. It’s an attempt to learn some skills that may not have been used before. It’s a chance to connect and say things like, “it’s hard to hear what you have to share when your tone is confrontational,” or something along those lines. I know for me, when my boys are out in the world I want them to be able to stand up for themselves and be heard by the person on the other side of the message. That’s not a skill I have right at my own finger tips. It takes a whole lot of trial and error. I have thrown negativity at people, perhaps damaged relationships in an attempt to have my voice heard. I want my boys to have safe places over and over and over again to try asserting themselves, be accepted, receive feedback so that in the wider world outside of my home, they will feel confident standing up for themselves.
One last piece, that for me, extends to any negative stuff that flies to the surface as I engage with my emerging adults, it’s almost 100 percent of the time, my issue and not theirs. So, it takes me wearing my big girl panties all the time, walking away and finding the root cause of the surges of big emotions that make me want to send my child in the opposite direction of what my parenting intentions truly are. Yes, it’s true, even in this magical age of teenagers, I still have a lot of work to do to continue to show up for them and remain connected. But come on, it’s really truly worth it. To know that when they launch from this here nest, I will have done what I needed to remain in connected relationship with them. So they can fly with confidence and return to the nest when the world gets too wobbly. That’s the winning lottery ticket folks.