5 Steps to Creating the New Year With Your Teen

First of all HAPPY NEW YEAR!  I hope 2012 was filled with exciting moments and lasting memories, and that 2013 brings you happiness and vitality!  People often start their new year by making resolutions, either  individually or as a family. Many think of a resolution as a single goal, or a habit that should be created or dropped. Instead of this approach, try planning all that you would like to accomplish over the next  year.  This is even more fun if you do this with your teen. You may find this experience an eye-opening opportunity to learn about what is important to one another.

Creating with each other is another way to build a strong relationship. Teens feel important when you show an interest in them and empowered when they get to contribute to family plans. The first step in creating together is being individually thoughtful about what you want and then coming together to discuss. Take some time to brainstorm what is important to you personally and what you want for your family.  Then, build a new tradition by sharing what you have come up with over a good cup of tea or your favorite meal.

Plans don’t have to be complex. In fact they should be simple, a true expression of what you want to achieve and your initial thoughts on how you would go about accomplishing your goals. The best plans start out short and very high level. Of course, you can create as many plans as you would like, but make sure they inspire you!

Use the following format and begin creating!

Five Steps to Planning Your Upcoming Year.

1.  Review the Last Year.  Take some time to think about what you have accomplished, and what you have left undone. Some people make lists that they can check at the end of a given year. It is important to remember that this is not a time to be critical of yourself. Don’t assign meaning to what was not accomplished, but instead evaluate if that is still important to you. If it is, include it again this year. If it is not, scrap it and create something new.

2. Identify Your Goals, Where You Are Now, and New Steps Toward Your Goals.  Begin by making a list of your high-level plans and then start filling in the details.  It can take some thought to move you from A to B.  This is where you can benefit from the ideas and support of other family members.  Of course, you can continue to add to this as the year goes on and you learn more and more about what it takes to reach your goals.

Follow this template:

On the top of a blank sheet of paper, write “What I Want

On the bottom of that page, write Where I am now in relation to where I want to be”

In the middle of the page, from the bottom up, write “The steps that will get you to your goal”

3. Share With Your Family and Continue Brainstorming. Share what you have come up with and then write as many new ideas as you can on your sheet of paper.  Be open to what comes up in the discussion. Don’t judge yourself and HAVE FUN! You can make a final product later.

4. Display Your Goals: Find a common place in the house to display everyone’s goals. You can use anything from an inexpensive cork board to a more creative display. This can serve as a daily or weekly reminder of what you are committed to over the next year. It also provides a place to celebrate achievements, or to adapt initial goals as the year goes on.

5. Revisit Your Goals Together. Pick regular intervals to revisit your goals as a family. This may be monthly, quarterly, or whatever time frame works for you. Don’t leave this step out! Peoples’ lives and circumstances change on a regular basis. Revisiting will help you stay present to what is going on in each other’s day-to-day lives.

You will be surprised by what you can accomplish when you are intentional!

Happy Parenting!

Shelly

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Connect With Your Teen Through Music

One of the greatest things about teenagers is the wonder, passion, and intensity through which they see the world and live their lives.  They are curious, thoughtful, and dramatic.  For many teens, music becomes a major way to express themselves and feel through their emotions.  The love struck teen makes a playlist of love songs.  The heart-broken teen listens to sad songs to get through loss.  The athletic teen listens to music to get pumped up for an event. The happy teen blasts music and sings along. Teens are not afraid to dance to music in the rain, or play it loudly throughout the house and from the car.

The massive increase in technology certainly presents challenges for parents. However, technology can also help you stay connected to your teen. The important thing is that your teen learns to protect his/her online identity, and that you guide and monitor their use.  YouTube is very popular site among teenagers. With YouTube, teens can listen to any song they want and create playlists of their favorites.  You too can create a YouTube account, and subscribe to your teen’s playlists (as long as your teen has made them public). I personally have a YouTube account, I subscribe to my teens lists, and I mine through their music.  You may or may not like the same kind of music your teen likes.  But, there are a number of reasons to tune in!

1.  You Can Use Their Music To Express Your Feelings For Them.  I came across the following song while looking through one of my son’s YouTube playlists.  It says so much about the relationship I have with both of my children. It also says a lot about who I want to be for them.  One line in particular says, “You can ALWAYS come home”.  I gave both my teens this song and told them it made me think of them.  Sometimes, it is the simple things that say I LOVE YOU!

2.  You Can Learn About Your Teen. The music your teen listens to can reflect his/her interests. Songs communicate a range of experiences, beliefs, and desires. While it can be easy to be concerned by some of the lyrics, don’t get stuck there. Teens often overlook the negativity and stand in the values you have taught them. Depending on your teen’s age, lyrics may even go over their head.  Knowing what your teen is listening to can be the first step in having a conversation about what you think.

3.  Music Creates Relationship Through Commonality: I once heard a dad tell a beautiful story about reconnecting with his son by taking him to a Metallica concert.  He was excited to share that the silence that was present on the way to the concert was non-existent on the way home.  In fact, his son talked his ear off, not only about the concert, but about all kinds of other things that were going on in his world.  The father was proud of himself for being able to sit through the whole concert, even though he preferred classical music.  He told his son that “they were not as bad as he thought they would be”.  But, he left out the part about wearing earplugs the entire time.  The point was never to fall in love with Metallica’s music. It was to spend quality time doing something his son loved.

4.  It Gives Your Teen An Opportunity to Share:  Being a teenager can be like living in an entirely separate society. Our culture even perpetuates this by using terms like “youth culture”.  The concept of a “youth culture” is that teens live by their own set of rules, roles, and responsibilities, which separates them from adults. This separation can as teens feeling like adults are always telling them what to do.  When you show an interest in their music, you are giving them an opportunity to share a little piece of them. They are left feeling like you are interested in them.

5.  It Helps You Understand What They May Be Going Through: If you pay attention, music can cue you into what is going on in your teen’s life.  You can use a song to start a conversation, or to show that you are interested in them or what they are going through.  You can also use song lyrics as a teachable moment.  For example, rather than sitting down at the table to have a conversation about drinking alcohol, use the lyrics from a song to generate a two way dialogue.

6.  It Keeps You Current. Teens like it when adults understand their world. Whether or not you actually like their music, it makes them feel accepted for who they are if you know something about it. Parenting teens is never a popularity contest because we must always be present to protecting, coaching, and disciplining. Knowing their music can, however, up the Cool Factor.

Happy Parenting!

Shelly

New On-Line Program for Fathers Experiencing Divorce or Separation

Just as divorce or separation is the furthest thing from a man’s mind on the day he says, “I do.”, being separated from his child is the farthest thing from his mind when he hears, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Yet, close to 50% of marriages end in divorce, and roughly 80% of mothers receive primary custody. This can leave fathers feeling disconnected from their children.

Children need their father in their life.  In fact, decades of research tells us that no single factor contributes more to the well-being of adult children of divorce than having a relationship with both parents while growing up.  Fathers and children share a special bond with one another, one that is unique from that of mothers.  Regardless of divorce, fathers want to protect, guide, and provide for their children. They have an endless amount love, a selfless kind of love that is unlike any of their other relationships. And, they express wanting lots of strategies for making the most of their time together.

I would like to let you know about a new online program I have developed, as part of my doctoral program in Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin -Madison.  I am currently looking for fathers to participate in a free, new online, multi-media program designed to help them adjust and parent after divorce or separation. I would greatly appreciate your help in sharing this program through your available networks, websites and newsletters.

Below are some ways you can share this program:

  • Copy and paste the program information provided below into an email, newsletter, or other forms of communication
  • Post the program information on your blog and social media accounts like Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Tweet:  New Online, multimedia program for fathers to adjust and parent after divorce/separation available at www.divorceddadinstitute.com
  • Direct people to the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ApartNotBrokenLearnConnectCreate
  • Send people directly to the homepage: www.divorceddadinstitute.com
  • Share directly with fathers you know and encourage them to sign up!

Thanks in advance for your willingness to share this program!

_____________________________________________________________

Program information: 

Fathers who experience divorce or separation can feel like they are starting over. Many say it is not what they expected, and harder then they thought it would be. They feel alone and miss their kids.

Apart, Not Broken: Learn, Connect, & Create gives fathers a place to:

Learn: Learn from the real experiences of other fathers. Get current information and recommendations for dealing with divorce and parenting after separation.

Connect: Use concrete examples and creative strategies to connect with their child and manage their relationship with their child’s mother.

Create: Create the relationship they want to have with child. Build new traditions and lasting memories.

This program is equipped with: 

  • Videos reflecting the real life experiences of other divorced fathers;
  • A discussion forum for you to connect and share with other fathers;
  • Online tools for sharing photos, comparing calendars, journaling, using a whiteboard, and communicating via chat, video chat, and email;
  • Current and concise information about divorce & parenting after divorce;
  • Recommended activities for you and your child; and
  • Additional resources such as book lists and helpful websites.

This innovative, multi-media program is:

  • Free of charge;
  • Released over a 12-week period, with a minimum time commitment of 30-45 minutes/week;
  • Available 24/7 at any location with an Internet connection;
  • Flexible, allowing you to spend as much time as you would like on various aspects of the program.
  • This program is for fathers who have a child between the ages of 8-16, and have been divorced or separated within the last two years.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

Shelly D. Mahon, Program Director
Ph.D Candidate at the University of Wisconsin, Madison
http://www.divorceddadinstitute.com
apartnotbroken@gmail.com

Is My Teen’s Behavior Too Risky?

Picture this scene:

Mom and dad are out of town for a week.  In their absence, a good friend is watching their house and their two teenagers kids. Things go smoothly Friday and Saturday night.  However, the tides turn!  While everyone nestles into bed Sunday evening, 16 year old James is on the phone with his girlfriend.  He and Amanda have been dating for almost a month and have not seen each other for days.  Yearning to see one another, they decide to meet up in the night.  The plan: James will drive over to Amanda’s house around 2:00 a.m. Amanda will sneak out and meet him on the corner of her street. The two of them will drive around or go to a park, and be home before sunrise.  The clock strikes 1:45 and James hits the road. At exactly 2:00, Amanda meets him down the street from her house.  The two drive around for a while and find themselves talking under a tree in the park. Everything is going as planned until…..they fall asleep!  Monday morning rolls around and the house sitter wakes up to find his car is missing!  Immediately, he checks both bedrooms. The youngest boy is sound asleep, but the oldest is gone. He tries to call James, but there is no answer.  Increasingly upset, he notifies his employer that he will not be at work and he waits to hear from the boy.  At around 9:30, James rolls through the front door in a major panic. Carrying a box of doughnuts he says, “I am soooo sorry! I wanted to surprise you with doughnuts for breakfast, but I fell asleep while I was waiting for the store to open.

I will leave the rest to your imagination. The point is that teens take risks. They are completely immersed in gaining a deeper understanding of themselves and how the world works. They do things they are not supposed to do. They even think through them “logically”.  However, they rely on their logic, not the logic of an adult brain.  The teenage brain is actually programmed to take risks.  Specifically, their brain has elevated levels of dopamine, a natural transmitter that creates the sensation of pleasure when stimulated.  Taking risks stimulates this pleasure center, giving them a thrilling sensation when the dopamine is released.

Most common risk-taking behaviors can be clumped into 4 categories:

  1. Drug/alcohol use/abuse,
  2. Unsafe sex, teen pregnancy, and teen parenting,
  3. School failure, underachievement, and drop-out, and
  4. Delinquency, crime, and violence.

These categories are probably not surprising to you. In fact, it is likely that they are the very things you worry about.  At the end of the day, parents are left knowing that they will not always be there in the very moment their teen is forced to make a decision.  Now, knowing what the risks are, and that it is normal for teens to take more risks than then their younger and older counterparts does not make it easier for parents. Parents are still left with the looming question, “Is my teen’s behavior too risky?”

How do you know when your teen’s behavior is too risky? Pay attention to:

Age: Engaging in risky behaviors at an early age can have both immediate and long-term consequences. Educate your teen on the risks they may face. Help them understand how risks can effect their brain, relationships, and future opportunities.  Know who is in your teen’s peer group. Spending time with older kids can introduce behaviors earlier than the “norm”.

Amount: Take it seriously, but don’t overreact. Dabbling is not the same as chronic risk-taking. Experts show that the consequence go up significantly when teens take risks in multiple areas, in part because risk begets more risk.  Pay attention to what is going on in their world. Create space for constant communication, and insist that your teen lets you know where he/she is, and with whom. Monitor and supervise whenever possible.

School: Teens who are engaged in school are less likely to get into trouble.  It is also important for parents to have high expectations for good conduct and performance. Having high expectations is not the same as pressuring your teen. Establish clear rules and give consequences when they are not met.  Avoid pressuring or attaching meaning to the teen’s character or abilities when they make mistakes.

Other activities: Weigh risky behaviors against other activities. Teens who are doing well in school, have friends that value school, and participate in some form of extracurricular activity are likely to be right on track. These factors can buffer teens from risks. If you are faced with a problem, look at how well your teen is doing in other areas of his/her life.

Environment: Environment can have a big impact on risk-taking behavior because it impacts what is available in a particular neighborhood or community.  For example, it is estimated that those living in low-income communities are up to 5 times more likely to take risks.  Parents can reduce the impact of environment by creating structure, using discipline, and monitoring their teen, while also being loving, affectionate, and available.

What Else Can You Do?

Focus on Preparing Youth:  Don’t just focus on protecting your teen from risks. While that is important, it is equally important to help your teen be fully prepared for the world. This means putting energy into providing opportunities, cultivating their potential, and surrounding them with supportive adults and healthy environments.   

Create opportunities for positive risk-taking:  Taking a risk means doing something outside of your comfort zone, the place where experts say growth occurs. For some teens, this can take the form of joining a new club, participating in a different sport, or taking on a leadership position.  Having opportunities to take “appropriate” risks can reduce a teen’s desire to take “inappropriate” risks.  Have them try wake boarding or mountain biking to get that dopamine release!

Get Help: Reach out to a school counselor, local therapist, or another trusted professional if you are concerned about your teen’s behavior. I once heard a teen say, “A therapist is just a friend when you feel like you don’t have one. You don’t need them as much once you know yourself better and can reach out when you need help.”  It can be a blessing to let other trusted adults contribute to your teen.

These years are sure to be a wild ride, with the occasional bump in the road.  Some things can be expected, but others will be your child’s unique expression of being a teenager.  Consider that risk-taking is a necessary part of your teen’s grown and development.  After all, what would life be like if you never took risks? The goal is to steer them in such a way that they use risk-taking to expand their potential, and avoid actions that can have serious, or even lifelong consequences.  As a good friend of mine once said, “the mountain may be steep, but at the end of it all you will be better for the climb.”

Happy Parenting!

Note: Within the next month, I will no longer be blogging at parentingteensinfo.com. If you enjoy my posts and access it through this site, please consider following my blog directly to receive notifications of new posts. Thanks!

Something Has Got To Change! Creating Habits for School Success

It is natural to put a lot of energy into the transition back to school. Don’t forget that it is just as important to develop good habits throughout the entire year. Consider that many of the things that you do on a day-to-day basis are not well thought out decisions, but habits. This is as true for your teen as it is for you, and can have a big impact on how well your teen does in school.

As the newness of the school year wears off, families begin settling into new routines. How are things going so far? Try completing the following sentence, “Now that the school year is underway….”

  1. Everything is going great!
  2. My teen is already behind!
  3. I feel like all I do is nag!
  4. My teen seems stressed out!

New routines or habits are established in the first few weeks, and can impact on how or what your teen does in school.  Don’t forget that it is just as easy to develop good habits, as it is to develop bad ones. Without some consideration, we can even absent-mindedly fall back into old habits. If you notice that certain things are not working, it is time to reprogram that habit!

How are habits formed? Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behaviors to the basal ganglia, the part of our brain that plays a major role in the development of emotions, memories and pattern recognition. Decisions, however, are made in the prefrontal cortex.  This portion of the brain helps us think through situations with logic.  Once a behavior becomes a habit, it is automatic and the prefrontal cortex goes into a sleep mode of sorts.

When does a behavior become a habit? In the book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, Charles Duhigg attributes habit formation to what he calls the habit loop.  Even though this book was written for businesses to boost effectiveness, the concepts in the book are easily applied to individuals and families wanting to create habits that increase workability and success.

The habit loop is made up of a cue, a routine, and a reward. Cues trigger the behaviors that we engage in for some kind of reward by kicking our brain into automatic mode. These cues can be internal, such as thoughts or feelings, or external such as time of day or spending time with a particular person. Routines are the behaviors themself. Routines can be physical (having a snack when you get home), cognitive (remembering to do homework), or emotional (feeling anxious). Rewards are the things we like that help are brain remember the habit loop in the future. Our behaviors become automatic when we crave the reward.   Like routines, rewards are also physical (I’m no longer hungry), cognitive (I gained new information), or emotional (I feel more relaxed).

What are your habits? It can be helpful to look at your own habits before you evaluate your teen’s habits.  What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning? Do you walk half awake to the kitchen and make coffee…staring at the machine until the coffee comes out? Do you crawl out of bed and get straight into the shower?  Regardless of your answer, it’s not likely this is something you decided to do; it’s a habit.  Now, whether you make coffee or take a shower first probably doesn’t make a real big difference in how your day goes.  However, other things like whether you go for a run when you get home from work, or eat dinner in front of the television can have a bigger impact on how you live your life and your overall health and well being.

What kind of habits can impact your teen’s school performance? While these will differ from family to family, here are some of the big ones are:

  • Staying healthy: Getting good rest, eating healthy, exercising
  • Getting organized: Writing assignments, projects, and tests in a calendar
  • Creating structure around homework: Having a time and place to study
  • Being prepared: Having all necessary materials available
  • Having support systems in place: Asking parents and teachers for help
  • Creating balance: Managing activities, homework, chores, and leisure time
  • Limiting distracting activities: Watching television, gaming, texting or being on Facebook
  • Staying positive: Maintaining a positive attitude about school and learning in general

What are your teen’s habits? You may notice that your teen has missing assignments, texts while doing homework, is late for school, doesn’t get enough rest, or appears completely stressed out. If something isn’t working, consider helping your teen change his/her habits. According to Duhigg, habit change involves keeping the cue and the reward the same, while changing the routine.  To do this, help your teen:

  • Believe that change is possible and within his/her control. This can be challenging when many things are black and white to teens. You may have to help your teen generate options.
  • Identify cues and be on the lookout for them. For example: “I text a friend when I get stressed or frustrated with my homework. Then, I can’t concentrate on homework.” 
  • Notice the rewards. For example: “My stress goes down when I talk to my friends instead of doing homework.”
  • Substitute a behavior that provides a similar reward. For example: “My stress goes down when I take a five minute break and then go back to work.”

Sounds easy enough, right? But, we all know that change can be hard! How do you help your teen recognize that something isn’t working to the point that they need to change?  Listen for and help your teen see ambivalence. Explain that being unsure, having mixed feelings, and feeling one way and thinking another are all signs of being ambivalent, and usually means that something needs to change.  Also, make sure your teen knows that we all feel ambivalent when we are faced with change.  Using our previous example, a teen may express her ambivalence around texting while doing homework like this: “I want to get my homework done quicker, but I also want to be there for my friends when they need me.”

Next, listen for and ask questions that get them talking about change. Asking questions like the ones below can help draw out the meaning your teen gives a particular change.

  • Desire: Why would you want to make this change?
  • Ability: How would you do it if you decided?
  • Reason: What are the three best reasons?
  • Need: How important is it? and why?
  • Commitment: What do you think you’ll do?

Using our example, a teen may say things like, “I want to finish my homework quicker so that I have more free time!” or “I could tell my friends to text me after 6:00.” Or, you could ask questions like, “How important is it to you to get your homework done quicker?” or “Why do you text your friends while you are doing homework.” Asking these kind of questions can also give you more information about the rewards for certain behaviors.

Having a  conversation about what is not working, and giving your teen a voice in the decision can be empowering. When your teen is empowered, he/she is more likely to cooperate and create workability for you and your teen.  Remember, the more you’re your teen wants to change the more likely it is to stick!

Happy Parenting!

Raising Teens: Get In Their World

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am writing this to tell you a little about how I am feeling and let you know that I am trying to understand how you are feeling too. There are some things I would like to ask of you. One, I would like it if you could try to see things through my eyes.  I have been trying to do that with you and I think you would see me differently if you did that too. Two, I would like it if everything was not all my fault. I know that I need to take responsibility for some things, but not 100% of things. Three, it really hurts when you say I am being a certain way and I don’t think fits me. Words like rude, dramatic, or self-centered make me feel bad. You may not always use those words, but the message is clear. Four, sometimes I don’t get enough time to cool down when I am upset or I just don’t feel like talking about it right now. I want to respect you, but I want you to respect me too. When these things don’t work, I feel down inside and it is hard for me to set myself up for success. I am only saying all this to tell you how I am feeling and try to  find a way to work things out easier. Please write me back.

Wow! That is a lot for a 14-year old to say, and it shows that while parents can get stuck thinking that “kids are just kids”, teens are often capable of thinking and expressing themselves beyond what we  believe is possible.  While you may not have received a letter like this one, your teen has probably shared his/her thoughts and feelings in one way or another.  These can come out in a variety of ways ranging from calm discussions or letters like this one to angry yelling or tearful breakdowns.  Her letter is an expression of her emotional intelligence, or her ability to:

  • Know her own feelings,
  • Use her feelings to make decisions,
  • Manage distress and control impulses,
  • Take actions that move her toward her goals,
  • Show empathy – know how others are feeling, and
  • Manage emotions in her relationships.

The trap for parents is that they can find themselves analyzing, reacting, or responding point-by-point to what is shared.  But actually, their sharing is a perfect opportunity to GET IN THEIR WORLD!   What teens really wants is for their parents to “get them”… to understand who they are and what they are going through.

Using the letter above, you can begin to “get her” by  trying to understand what is at the source of her words. What is it that she really wants you to know about her?  You may see that she wants to be:

  • Understood in the context of her world – the teenage world,
  • Seen as responsible,
  • Seen as a part of, but not the sole source of the problem or argument,
  • Thought highly of ,
  • Respected, and
  • Given space to calm down.

Given that, how might you respond to her? Being in her world would involve putting aside your own thoughts and emotions and focusing on what she wants you to understand about her. For example, you could let her know that you think she is responsible. You could even give examples of her being responsible.

The next time you have an opportunity to be get in your teens world, try the following techniques:

  • Focus on fostering openness and trust in your relationship. Generally, this means creating a safe environment for sharing by listening and showing that you believe your teens thoughts and feelings are valid and important.
  • Stay focused on what your teen shares. Be careful not to react to triggers of your own thoughts and feelings. You will have an opportunity to share what is important to you later.
  • Address what is at the source of your teens thoughts or feelings and avoid focusing on picky details. In the example above, you can hear that she wants to be understood. Try saying something like, “It sounds like you feel really misunderstood and I want to understand you”
  • Repeat what is said, so that your teen has the experience of being heard.  For example, “So, what I hear you telling me is…..” (put it in your own words but restate what was said).
  • Dig a little deeper by asking your teen if you missed anything, or if he/she would like to tell you more. Phrases like, “Did I get that right?”,  “Have I missed anything? or “Do you want to tell me more about that?” can help you dig a little deeper.
  • Point out the outcome you think your teen wants. I hear you saying that you would like to be heard. You would like it if I listened to you without interrupting.”
  • Create with your teen. Make some agreements. For example, you could agree to be AWESOME listeners, or to allow space before talking about heated issues.

Once teens feel gotten, they are much  more open to listening to you.  It is at this point that you can share what is going on for you and give your teen an opportunity to practice getting someone else.  It is through these kind of interactions that emotional intelligence is built and fostered!

Happy Parenting,

Shelly

Your Teen Is Changing! What Can You Do About It?

Michelangelo said that when he set out to sculpt a statue from a formless block of marble, he sought only to remove the excess marble from the statue that already existed inside the block. This is what Aristotle called accidental change.  Aristotle believed that when change occured, something new came to be, something old passed away, and something stayed the same throughout.

While we constantly watch our children change, the teen years are some of the most pronounced. Your teen will go through pubertal changes, as well as changes in brain structure, cognitive capabilities, and sexual interest.  They will also experience changes in the roles they assume in their family, community, and school.  Outside of their own development, teens must adjust to the changing world around them. For example, teens have experienced the rapid growth in technology, changing views in politics, and emerging styles in music and clothing.

Whether we are talking about normal development or changes in the world around us, some will be easier than others. People often respond to change with phrases like, “Come what may”, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”, and “What we resist persists.”  When people really don’t want to deal with change, they often look for proof to justify that it isn’t really happening or necessary.

One thing to consider is how Aristotle’s description of change fits your teen. Try taking a day or two to live in wonder of who your teen really is right now.  Have a good look at what has emerged, passed away, or  been the same for as long as you can remember. This can happen in a variety of areas such as personality traits, tastes in food, interests, styles, and levels independence. Why do this? Because, change happens so quickly we can miss it if we don’t pay attention.

Another thing to consider is how you deal with your teen changing. Do you avoid it or embrace it? Do you prepare for it or deal with it as it comes?  Do you accept it or wish things would just stay the same.  It is important to consider how you deal with change because your response can actually have an impact on your teen’s experience of him/herself.  For example, let’s say your teen’s interest switches from playing football to guitar. Embracing this change may open up opportunities for your teen to feel excited, proud, and adventurous. However, responding with criticism may generate feelings of hesitation, sadness, and guilt.

Finally, consider that you can have an impact on how your child changes by what you expose them to, and how you embrace what they choose to explore.  Teens often take your openness and interest in them as a pure expression of love. One time, I heard a teen tell his mom, “It means so much to me that you are open to me trying on different nutritional diets. It means even more that you will do them with me. It says that you care about what matters to me and I love you for it.”

While change looks different for every teen, it is inevitable.  Regardless of how you feel about it, change helps to shape the adult your teen becomes.  Challenge yourself to be a positive contribution and enjoy it along the way.

Happy Parenting!

Shelly