Being a parent of a teen can be frustratingly challenging at times. It can also be exciting, inspiring and lots of fun. The way you talk to and parent your teenager will be different from the way you did this when they were little, and in lots of ways that’s a great thing. It does get easier as they get older. But occasionally I do catch myself wishing they were little again; when bedtime was at 7pm (or 6 if they were tired), cheese sandwiches were the meal of choice and they liked nothing better than to cuddle up next to me.
Now it’s more like ongoing negotiations with a number of individuals as you juggle demands on your time while trying to balance a busy family life that includes routine, fun, conversations and endless amounts of food.
Finding that sometimes elusive balancing point is an art form in most families. What works one day won’t necessarily work the next time, or maybe it works just fine for a while then other influences come into play and all of a sudden things are changing again.
And that’s just it.
Life is always changing. It can be hard sometimes. It can be awesome sometimes. The trick lies in getting the balance at 80% awesome and 20% hard. You do need some hard to appreciate and grow the awesome.
If you are having a challenging time in a few areas of your life then stop, and take notice. Can you see any lessons in these challenges? Are there things you can learn from them? Are they trying to teach you something?
And, even more importantly, what can you do to support yourself as you deal with these challenges? If life has thrown us a curve ball; it is vitally important we reach out to others for help and support. Sooner rather than later too. There comes a point where trying to go it alone and ‘handle things’ is actually doing yourself and your family a big disservice. Reaching out and getting support is the best option.
Knowing and acknowledging that is a sign of strength. After all, we don’t all know everything and wouldn’t the world be boring if we did?!? In times of crisis we all know to dial 111 because it’s an emergency. We have no hesitation in calling in the experts to come and help when we need them.
But why wait for a time of crisis, especially when its the mental health of our teenagers that we’re talking about. Intervening earlier, being a proactive parent and getting help and support before you need it is the equivalent of using a map to get from A to B or asking for directions once you realise you’re lost.
If you’re wondering if your teenager needs support ask them. They will tell you if they do. And if they don’t, they will also be receiving a message from you that lets them know you’re seeing them and you’re there for them. It’s powerful to know your parent is unconditionally on your side. And I don’t mean no boundaries and everything is a yes, but I do mean that you always love your child no matter what. Even if you’re so angry/disappointed/shocked/upset (insert appropriate emotion) with them you can’t speak right now …
Reach out, get some help for yourself and give yourself permission to be the parent they will thank you for later. Parenting is a tough job. Everyone does life differently. And getting support for yourself can be the best way to handle a crisis.