Parenting teenagers can be a challenging journey filled with ups and downs. It’s a phase of life where both parents and teens undergo significant changes, and navigating this transition can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of taking a “rest day” in your parenting approach and understanding the teen behind the armor. But first, let’s begin with a personal story that inspired this discussion.
A Personal Awakening
Last spring, I attended a women’s retreat where I had the privilege of hearing from women in their 50s about their experiences with menopause and life transitions. It struck a chord with me, sparking an urgent realization. I needed to prepare my body for the changes that lay ahead, much like parenting teenagers. I had become accustomed to a sedentary lifestyle in recent years, glued to my computer, and neglecting my physical health.
As I approached my fiftieth birthday, I knew I needed to make a change. Upcoming events, including a week in Cabo for my birthday and a New Year’s Eve dancing extravaganza, required me to be physically fit. So, I hired a personal trainer to help me get back on track. Little did I know that this journey would teach me valuable lessons about parenting teens.
The Resistance to Rest
As I began my fitness journey, I faced physical challenges that left me questioning my abilities. Despite not lifting heavy weights and setting a modest daily step goal of 5,000, my body was in pain. When my trainer suggested a rest day, I initially resisted the idea. Rest? I thought I wasn’t even doing enough to warrant it. However, I reluctantly took a day off from exercise, feeling defeated and concerned about the state of my body.
This resistance to rest mirrors the challenges many parents face when it comes to parenting teenagers. We often feel compelled to constantly push and pressure our teens to meet our expectations. But what if, like me, you need to take a step back and reconsider your approach?
Understanding Your Teen
Teens, much like adults, are not likely to move toward something until it holds personal meaning for them. If they perceive that school, their health, or their contributions at home are solely driven by our expectations, it may require external pressure, bribes, or threats to get them to comply.
However, it’s crucial to recognize that your teens do care deeply about their lives, even if it doesn’t always seem that way. When we dismiss their interests, passions, or goals, they can withdraw and resist our guidance. As parents, we have a broader perspective and more life experience, but our teens need the space to explore their own paths and desires.
Building a Connection
If your parenting style leans toward control or criticism, it’s essential to reflect on how this affects your teen. Over time, such an approach can make your teen feel emotionally unsafe, leading them to retreat behind a protective armor of indifference, resistance, or defiance.
Just as my trainer doesn’t shame me for my limitations, parents should refrain from constantly pointing out their teens’ shortcomings.
Instead, focus on building a connection and understanding the individual behind the armor.
Take a Rest Day in Parenting
Like my rest day in the gym, parents need to take a rest day in their parenting approach. Give your teen space to express themselves, pursue their interests, and feel valued without attaching strings to your support. Acknowledge their passions and efforts without immediately adding, “You know you could…”
Taking a step back from your own plans for your teen allows them room to develop and manifest their own aspirations. Over time, as you nurture the connection and trust between you and your teen, they will be more willing to share their goals and dreams with you.
Parenting teenagers is a challenging but rewarding journey. Just as I learned to listen to my body and interpret its signals during my fitness journey, you can listen to your teens and see their behaviors as a form of communication.
When you understand your teen’s needs, aspirations, and feelings, you can nurture a healthier, more connected relationship.
If you’re nodding your head in agreement and seeking more support in parenting your teen, consider reaching out for coaching, classes, or membership opportunities designed to help you navigate this phase of life. Take a rest day in your parenting approach, connect with the teen behind the armor, and watch as your relationship blossoms into something beautiful.