The teenage years... Like "terrible twos", I feel like the "rebellious" teenage years are greatly misunderstood.
(I don't believe there is such a thing as terrible twos - I do believe, however, two-year-olds have brains that are developing, and this can be challenging).
I would have been regarded as your "rebellious teenager". I would have been the teenager with the challenges that most parents would dread.
Sneaking out. Having the "bad boy" as a boyfriend.... and getting physically intimate because that's what I thought I had to do, to be loved.
Most parents think it's a "teenage thing".
There were things that I went through in those years that I would never wish upon anyone.
Whilst I have forgiven myself and worked through the pain, I was deeply interested in "what had me make poor choices".
....and as a parent, it's only when our children get to the teenage years that we think, "Have I set them up to be a responsible adult? Have I empowered them to make great choices?"
It is one of the reasons that led me to the work I do.
I grew up in a family where my parents did the best they could to love us from where they were at. Middle class. Catholic Schools. We were "provided" for.
However, emotionally, it was barren. There were no "I love you's" or hugs or gestures of emotional connection.
AND it was only in the work that I do; now I can feel and receive they loved me as best they could.
What's heartbreaking about this is that most teenagers rebel because they don't feel connected and loved in the family home (yet parents love them more than life itself!).
So - for teenagers, what there is to be mindful of are the following:
It doesn't matter how much you believe you love them.
It doesn't matter that you love them more than life in your world.
IF YOUR TEENAGER CAN'T RECEIVE YOUR LOVE, FEEL YOUR LOVE, OR BELIEVE THAT YOU LOVE THEM FOR WHO THEY ARE - YOU'VE LOST YOUR INFLUENCE OVER THEM.
This is the crazier part. They don't start pulling away when they turn 13 or older.
It can start as young as 5.
If you feel that your teenager doesn't listen to you or your children don't listen to you.. and your biggest gripe is that they aren't listening to you and as a parent, you're frustrated with "why they aren't listening to you!" -
It's a sign.
Because here's a profound idea.
Children want to listen.
They want to be influenced.
They want to be guided.
AND... they listen and are guided to those that they feel have their back, have their interest at heart - and where they feel seen, heard, understood.
Now, you might say to me, "Oh Yummii!...MY child is not that!.. You have no idea!"
And once again - I'm going to repeat the profound idea.
Children want to listen. Want to be influenced. And want to be guided.
What they don't want - is to be controlled. Manipulated. Threatened. Invalidated. Judged. Criticised. Condemned. Needing to be fixed. Wronged. Blamed. And spoken, "at".
If they feel you are doing any of this in your communication, the connection is compromised.
WE listen when we feel seen, heard, and understood.
The more we feel someone sees us, feels us, and understands us - the more we listen. They have earned our attention.
Because when we give someone our attention, we feel connected.
And, human beings are hardwired for connection.
If you have a teenager and you want to reclaim the connection, here is the process:
Firstly - get honest.
Scale of 1-10, how connected do you feel to your child and as a parent? - This will provide you with an insight into your level of influence.
Your level of connection to them determines your capacity to influence their world.
Your capacity to connect with them - is based on how full of love you are, for you.
So... to start reclaiming the process to connect, start learning to love who you are.