When I work with parents, lots of families resonate with the idea of letting go and being open & present with their children. But in reality, we spend so much of our time resisting in parenting. We hold onto a vision that we’ve created for our children – a narrative, an expectation, an attitude about how things should play out. This isn’t even in our consciousness; we often don’t even realize we’re holding onto these ideas.
So much of what our kids and teens go through is not easy for them to make sense of. They can feel when they don’t fit into your vision, but they can’t articulate, “Hey. You’re not seeing who I am here, and that’s making it hard for me to trust you.” Instead, they just feel a discomfort. Sadness, anger, and resentment become filters that change how they move through the world. We can feel their pain too! We see our teens being pissed off, hurtful, and not wanting anything to do with us.
When we feel that pain, when we feel that soreness, we can get curious and ask ourselves, “what am I resisting right now?” This is such a powerful question.
My teen can’t seem to stand me. What am I resisting?
Nobody will help me out around the house! What am I resisting?
Nobody follows my screen time rules. What am I resisting?
My child doesn’t care about school. What am I resisting?
My teen breaks all of the rules. What am I resisting?
What am I resisting? It sounds so simple, but it’s not. It’s just the beginning – an opening – of a deep personal inquiry.
Discovering what you’re resisting plays into how your child responds to the world.
It takes work to discover what’s happening under the surface. It’s not just on the tip of your tongue. You may not have even considered that you’re resisting anything! This question might feel like a stretch. But we love the stretch! That’s where the personal growth is. When we ask ourselves questions that we can’t answer, those are the questions to sit with and explore deeper and deeper. Finding the humility and the vulnerability to ask yourself what you’re resisting is key to knowing yourself.
Once we start to uncover what we are resisting, we can recognize how it plays into how your child responds to both you and the world.
A gift our kids offer us, always, is the opportunity to know ourselves on a deeper level.
I want both of my kids to feel encouraged and empowered to design the life they want. You know my experience with my daughter, her mental health, and opting out of school. There was so much that I was resisting while we went through that. My resistance added to her pain. I’m still working on checking my resistance at the door and being with her. The first step to checking my resistance is recognizing when it’s in the room.
You might say, “But they’re just teens! What do they know?” Well, guess what? They do know about things. It’s their experience and their lives that will prepare and influence how they show up to their future. We can all look back at our teen years and make a laundry list of mistakes, but had we not made those mistakes, we wouldn’t have learned the lessons that came with them.
I challenge you to open up your journal and explore around resistance. This is an essential personal growth step to transform our relationships. Once you’ve identified your resistance, you get to decide if you can work on letting it go. You’re the adult, and you’re the one who gets to do the work here. Yeah, our teens can hurt us, but they’re still in process. You’re the one who gets to do the work. You’re the one!
Do you want to go even deeper on this? Check out my Parenting for the Brave New World Summit.
Listen on the podcast, Episode 257