Live with intent, take time, have patience and gain a new perspective. See how having a relationship with your teen can change both of your lives. Say goodbye to status-quo.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

3 Steps Toward Respect

1. GIVE your teenager reasons: You don't have to have a long list of reasons as to why you say no to something they want or ask for. But I think it's a bad, actually lazy habit to get into to NOT give them a reason. I mean there is a reason you are are saying no after all, right? Any person can say, "Because I said so, I'm the parent, that's good enough." Why not shoot for something that will work better and be more loving? Show your kid that they are worth it.
It's a step toward respect if you can take just literally an extra minute or two to give them a good reason. They will appreciate it. And not only will you be respecting them to care enough to give them a good reason, but they will respect you--AHH BONUS!

2. Ask them questions: By this I mean, don't assume. If you are in a situation with your teen where they did something wrong, or even if you think they are hiding something--go ahead and ask them. Inquire about their lives in a non accusatory way. I've caught myself plenty of times coming across to my daughter that I know what she did, or I assume why she did it. When I find myself in a situation with her where I'm disappointed or suspicious I've learned to ask questions. That way it's more of a two way street and I'm not just shootin off my mouth trying to control a situation that might not even be a reality. I've found most times than not that when I do ask her about stuff, she appreciates it, and will answer. It shows her I respect her because I'm addressing an issue without assuming or judging.

3. Give them a voice: I believe our kids want to be heard. And in a desperate way. They have got to have an outlet--a place they can share what they are feeling. Being a teen is so difficult because of the emotions that are so rampant in their lives. I remember them very clearly even as an adult now. We can respect our kids by giving them a voice in many different situations: if they get in trouble, we need to let them share about their thought process a bit, or when they get frustrated or annoyed with us, we need to let them say why. We need to hear them out if they feel that something we do is unfair, rude, or embarrassing. This creates a mutual respect because it gives them a chance to experience us as human beings, not just parents. It helps anyone to be able to speak up and work through feelings, doesn't it? Listen to what they have to say.

Friday, July 29, 2011

A Mutual Respect

One way I've always viewed parenting is through the eyes of mutual respect.

It seems to me there is a lot of "power over"controlling behaviors, and less RESPECT when it comes to parent/child relationship. Almost like an authority type relationship. You might be thinking, "WELL YA, I do have authority over my child, I am the adult here!"

And that is obviously true. But that is not ALL there is, right?

I've always looked at my daughter as an equal human being. I've tried to keep my perspective of not only for her to respect me, but me to respect her.

As parents we want to raise our kids to be wonderful well rounded people.
And we do that the best we know how. We do that with what and where we are at the time in our lives. We raise them based on our upbringing, our experiences, and beliefs, and how we visualize what we want their future to hold.

One of the best ways I can think of accomplishing that is to treat your child with the same respect we would like. The fact is we ARE older than our children, and that we do have authority over them. That is not what I'm arguing. But I think when we can see our children as imperfect humans, and ourselves for that matter as flawed humans, we'll get a lot further in relationship with our kids.

I don't agree with the view that it's all only about kids needing to respect their parents.
I think WE need to respect our KIDS too. It goes both ways. We need to create a mutual respect.

It seems to me there ends up being so many road blocks for parents who don't have this view. Kids don't want to share with their parents when they feel threatened or fear; so they'll hide, lie, they don't enjoy talking to their parents, and they push their parents away.

Do you think some of this could be because of the respect we demand? And all the while we are busy demanding respect, we lose insight on our kids hearts?
I mean does anyone really get respect who demands it or thinks they deserve it?

We've got to get busy respecting our kids, and building harmony with them.
This doesn't mean that we aren't "in charge" it just means we are in charge AND we are respecting them. Treating them not only as a child that we are raising and guiding, but also as an important human being that needs to be heard, validated, and encouraged-no matter what.
It means we are "in charge" AND we are
disciplining them. It means we are in charge and we are talking with them through conflict and giving them a voice.

It means we are in charge AND showing grace when they mess up. It means we are in charge AND we are patient with them. It means we are in charge AND give them their freedoms. It means we are in charge, AND give them advice and guidance. It means we are in charge but we understand what they are going through because, hey-haven't we all been there?

We are entrusted with our kids and it's not only a blessing, it's a PRIVILEGE. I'm for one not going to go through each day thinking I am in control of my daughter, because no matter what I do, unless it's short of tying her up in her room until she's 18--it's NEVER gonna happen.

So I need to learn balance, and I think that starts with looking at her as an equal. I'm just a flawed human delighted to raise her up the best I can, and she's just a flawed human entrusted to me with no choice--wanting to be the best child she can be, because ya know what? Our kids look up to us. They need us. We need to give them a TENDER LOVE. Yes we do know what's best for them for sure, and as we start building more of this relationship, and WALKING through life with them, they will BELIEVE that we know what's best.

This balance may look different for each situation and each child, and I understand that. But I can honestly bet that if we all started looking and thinking about our child in terms of equality, they would come around in a heartbeat. When we have a controlling way about us, it pushes them away. If we have a tender heart, and invite them in as equal beings, they will run toward us. Which direction do you want your child to run in?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unconditional Love

I thought of a "new" concept the other day when I was taking a walk to clear my head. The concept and saying itself isn't new, "Unconditional Love" but the way I wanted to address it, I think was newer.

I was feeling uneasy after a debacle my daughter and I had gone through the night before.
Last year I blogged about how sick she got from running herself ragged and how I recognized and learned as a Mother that part of that was my fault. I don't like to scapegoat in my life AT ALL, so I should say, it was my responsibility. I learned that I say no to a lot of certain things, but YES to quite a bit. One of the areas I say yes to a lot is to let my daughter go out a lot and do stuff, and be involved in school and activities. This girl is involved in dance, show choir, student council, student officers, drama club, church...I'm sure I've left out a few. Oh ya, band and choir.

Not only is she very involved but she lives life to the fullest, which is what I taught her. But she gives all of her self, %100 to everyone, even her teachers. That can be exhausting and with the combo of all of this, she crashed in the winter of 2010. She was diagnosed with Mono, and it went to her blood stream, so now she has Epstein Barr.

I give that background to say this: I am learning to say no more to "protect" her. She was gone in Michigan for 2 weeks, and toward the end of her trip, she got a high fever. It was able to resolve itself, but I know it was her body screaming at her to take a break. So I need to step up and be her advocate. I know I'm going to be her worst nightmare this summer, but it's because it's what's best for her. If it were up to her, she would not slow down. She's constantly on the go.

So I've started to implement this new advocacy over her, and it's not going horrible, but it's not quite going the best either. For instance, the other night after she had been resting and chillin most of the day, she got a phone call from a friend to see if she could go swimming for a few hours. This phone call came at like 8:30p at night, and I thought what was best for her was to just keep laying low because she had her best friend coming from St.Paul for a few days, and she'd be on the go. She was NOT happy with my decision.

Between the hours of 9pm and Midnight, she treated me completely differently. This was based on my NO to go swimming. I gave her my reasons, and she didn't agree, which is fine-that is her right, but my answer wasn't going to change.

This is something that is quite common between us. She will treat me differently based on my yes or no's if she can do something with her friends or not. I know what you are thinking, "This is common/typical teenage behavior" and I would agree with you--BUT why accept it? Why not think of a different/new way to deal with this? We all experience it as parents, and it's annoying and can actually be hurtful.

So I was thinking on my walk about the concept of unconditional love. When my daughter treats me different and acts the way she does when I say "no", she is loving me based on conditions, and that isn't right. I need to love her unconditionally and I do, (although if I am truthful, I could think of areas that I haven't)- but she also needs to love me unconditionally, which I know she does, but when it comes to this--she doesn't. She's putting a condition on me due to my answer.

I asked her today if she understood this concept and she said she did. She told me she had been thinking about it for a couple of days now too and felt bad the way she treated me.
My daughter Madelynn said that she thinks using and remembering this concept for these kind of situations could really help her!

I want to encourage all parents to know that we don't have to accept "typical teenage behavior"--yes we know it is inevitable, and it will be difficult--but we can view things in a new light, and try different concepts that can build and help our relationship with our teens.

Don't accept the status quo! I refuse to do that, and am making an effort-and it IS effort--to create peace, and resolve conflict and try new things.

I think unconditional love is a neat place to start. Ask you teenager to love YOU unconditionally and ask yourself if you are loving THEM unconditionally. Discover what that looks like together.