Eckart Tolle said in A New Earth, “life will give you the experience you need to emotionally grow.” What I tend to see in my patients is the mindset of why is this happening to me. This is common. We have all thought this. However, what Mr. Tolle is saying here is that life is giving us the experience to learn what is needed at this time. For example, some of us did not realize how desperate the racial issues were and life gave us Ahmad Aubrey. Others of us did not realize that there are some of us who really do not have the luxury of having saved several months rent to secure a roof over our head and so life gave us an economic down turn.
Lastly, some of us have taken the distractions in our life to avoid emotional pain and so life gave us time to sit with our emotional struggles so we would see how critical their resolution is to our success. Clearly, there have been so many opportunities to learn and emotionally grow, but the first step is not asking why me? Instead try, what am I supposed to be learning from this experience?
How are you ever going to get a job? Have a family? How are you ever going to live without me telling you what to do?!
Guess what? They will. Sure, that’s easy for me to say. I haven’t seen them, insert obnoxious behavior here. They will because that’s what happens when they know the buck stops with them. You know, the bird that is kicked out of the nest. If you wait for the bird to tell you when they are ready then well, Good Luck! It’s waaay too cozy in the nest.
Often times your teen wants to tell you they’re ready, but (through your desire to keep them too close or restrict what it is you want them to do to express their maturity) you let them know in no uncertain terms that you are not ready for them to grow up. That is, unless they grow up the way you want them to.
Your teen’s maturity is messy, unpredictable and chaotic. They can’t make sense of it either. All they know is that when they listen to their gut sometimes when it’s over they’re in trouble and sometimes they’ve done something like save grandma from joking at the Thanksgiving dinner. Go figure! Give your teen room to breathe so whichever part is going take over they can have some room to learn or strut.
There is nothing like knowing you have served your time. You have paid your debt to society and now you are free to start over. Only two things stand between this freedom. You and your teen’s thoughts.
Forgiveness is like paying your debt to society. Sometimes the society is your community, your family or yourself. When your teen makes a mistake otherwise called a learning opportunity, it is very important they forgive themselves and understand they have paid their debt to the society. If they can’t do this, the mistake becomes a symbol of failure rather than what it is meant to be, a learning opportunity.
Your teen learns this through you. When you accept and forgive your mistakes, you show your teen how to do this in their own life. When you forgive yourself, and do a tally of what you have learned then you show your teen what is important and how they are better for having made the mistake.
The past is the past, the mistakes your teen makes are in the past as well. When you are unable to forgive your teen, your teen is unable to forgive themselves and the past becomes their present and guides their future. For more thoughts from TheTeenDoc check out her other writings and speaking.
Intention is a great place to start with anything and this includes parenting your teen. When you get that call that your teen was caught misbehaving or didn’t do what you asked them to do and you asked TEN times, before anything comes out of your mouth you have to ask yourself, what is my intention?
Intention is about getting in touch with the message you hope to convey. for example, you can yell and convey frustration or anger. You can be sarcastic and convey animosity or even hatred. Finally, you can take a breath even while frustrated and convey love and understanding by simply asking about the circumstances that compliacated their desire (and yours) for them to be their best selves.
Sometimes when you consider your intentions, your teen has an opportuninty to hear, not your judgement or criticism of their behavior, but your real intention which is to connect, understand and love your teen.
Being perfect and the intention of of doing your best are not the same. When your intention shines through even if you don’t hit the mark your teen can feel that you expect more not because they are a failure, but because they’re intentions are generally good.