How many books on raising teens have you read?
In moments of real stress – those fiery arguments or displays or reckless, rebellious behavior – did the books really help?
Like me, I bet your answer is “not really.”
I worked supporting teens and families long before I became a mother myself. When I finally had my own kids, I realized why the intellectual support that books offer just isn’t enough.
Parents need individualized support, not just books and websites. No matter how much reading we do, it will never replace the impact that personal, steady, empathetic clear thinking, support can provide – especially the kind you encounter during your child’s teen years – is a process that requires more than just your brain. This kind of transformation demands that you operate from your heart.
While books on teen development are enlightening, intellectual knowledge will not get you through a conflict with your daughter. Only vulnerable inquiry into your experience as parent can do that.
When You Love Your Child So Much It Hurts
I became a mom myself last year and I have learned so much during my first year as a parent to twins. The most surprising thing? The way we are cellularly tied to our children.
This biological link makes our love and connection deep and healthy, but it also makes things extra hard during the rough times. You might feel like you’re in physical pain when your child is unhappy – and that’s when parenting can get really tricky.
My best description of this phenomenon is that we are like tuning forks. When your teen cries, yells, or is just plain mad at you, you’ve been rung like a tuning fork. Your whole body will hum or ring until she calms down.
Depending on your constitution, you may be able to tolerate this discomfort – or you may not.
When you can’t tolerate the uncomfortable, messy parts of parenting you’re more likely to give in. You lose sight of what you’d originally decided was best for your teen and your relationship with her.
No matter what you read in the books and resolved to do, in emotional, stressful situations it will be very difficult to take the actions the books suggest.
Being a mother to a teenager often means that you’ll have all your buttons pressed and all your tuning forks rung.
Getting help from a live person rather than a book will help you determine when your discomfort has to do with “being a tuning fork” and when you really needing to change your approach to parenting.
When You Know It’s Time to Ask for Help
What got me to put down the book and pick up the phone? Six sleepless months with twinfants.
I was too tired and emotional to make clear decisions and stick with them. I couldn’t solve this sleep dilemma alone. So I hired a sleep consultant.
Before I called this particular consultant I had already read every one of her articles (plus a few other experts’ books). Perhaps you’re nodding your head because this is just like you having read every teen parenting book?
The consultant offered many great ideas on her website, but there were so many variables to my situation. Her articles couldn’t speak to all of them. I loved her approach, but I just could not seem to apply her tips, moment-to-moment in my own home.
So I hired her.
After some correspondence, a customized plan, and a volley of emails full of specific questions and answers that helped me tweak the plan to my particular situation, my girls were sleeping – and so was I!
Two Essential Things that Every Mother Needs: Support and Confidence
We gain confidence when we can discuss all of our hopes, fears, and frustrations with someone who is free of judgment.
You need support from someone whose perspective isn’t distorted by the fatigue that comes from being too close to a situation. A trusted confidant and advisor can help you find confidence to shift unhealthy dynamics with your child and create a relationship that serves everyone.
If you are finding that you’re still struggling in your relationship with your daughter despite every blog and book you’ve read, I highly recommend that you consider getting some personalized support.
No book or blog can meet your personal experience. And you’re not supposed to go through this all on your own.
There are a myriad ways to get personal support: parenting classes, mom support groups, working with a individual counselor or parenting consultant… Do what works for your lifestyle.
I invite you to accept my support. You can start by subscribing to receive Raising Her With Confidence articles a couple times a month. My goal is to help you build the confidence you need to make a healthy shift in your relationship with your teen daughter.
In full support of your parenting success,
Josie Bohling, MFT