One of the questions was: what happened in the end? I let her stay home, while her brother and I continued with the plans to go to the mall. I think she was a little surprised that I didn’t push her more to come with us. I didn’t push her because I could tell this was based on her peers would think if they saw her. I knew there was no way I was going to convince her to see this situation differently, so I didn’t try. What helped me the most was staying calm and not letting my emotions (disappointment, frustration) get the best of me. It would have been easy to get worked up and react to her sudden decision that she didn’t want to go, especially since we had been planning it all day. However, I’ve been working really hard not react emotionally. Yes, it’s work. Reactions are automatic and retraining your brain (and your mouth) to do things differently is not easy. It takes effort. As parents, I think that we think we are just supposed to automatically know how to do things and to admit that somethings take work somehow makes us a bad parent. But when you read that statement you know it’s not true. We can all get better and do better at “being a parent” and to do that we must put in the work.
Another great point that came up in our FB group was that teens and pre-teens are going through so many physical changes during this period that their brain chemistry is literally altered. The changes in their brain make it physically impossible for them to think and act rationally at certain times. One mom shared that she and her husband have a hand signal they use to remind each other when their teen is not thinking rationally. We can actually apply this to our children at all ages. Too often we try to reason with a child who is over tired or hungry or just in a space where they are at the end of their rope (usually at the grocery store or any other shopping experience). If we can recognize they are at their own point of no return, we can instantly change our mindset. Instead of approaching them with frustration and try to “fix” the situation, we can give them the compassion they need to get through it. You may need to go back to them to discuss the behavior later, but recognizing they are incapable of rational thought in that moment, will save you hours of frustration.
The last common topic of discussion was around how hard it is to watch our relationship with our kids change. Those looks our kids give us when we say something “embarrassing” in public or when we show them too much affection. It’s easy as a parent to feel hurt in these situations when it appears to us that our child is pushing us away. The important thing to remember is that they are not trying to hurt us, we cannot take it personally. (See above comments about keeping our emotional reaction in check.) We know our kids are growing up and changing, but so are we. We are different too. Have you thought about that? Think about your lifestyle, your likes and dislikes, your definition of fun before kids and now after. It’s different, right? We have changed too, we are not the same people we were when they were babies. So, we’re both changing and in turn our relationship will change too.
The definition of what it means to be our “child” is changing. It’s confusing and complicated and that’s how the parents feel! Think about how confusing it is from our kid’s perspective. If only there was an Instruction book or Parent Handbook if you will, to help us through……..well, it’s coming! I’m putting the finishing touches on my first online course: A Parent’s Guide to Raising a Pre-Teen: Connecting through Communication. Stay tuned for more details in the upcoming weeks, but if you can’t wait and want a sneak peak, let me know.
In the meantime, for all my fellow cool parents out there, hang in there, they won’t be preteens (or teens) forever.
Want to learn more about my upcoming course and the early bird discount for readers of the blog? PM me or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll give you all the details!