Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Peaceful Meditation for Parents of Teens

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I am learning that as our children get older, it gets harder and harder to really know what is best for them. When they are small, it is so easy - walking in front of cars, bad; touching hot stove, bad; gentle hands, good; pinching, bad; memorizing multiplication tables, good; sharing, good; sitting on the cat, bad; and so on.

When they get to be teens however, and really want to do something that you believe is not in their best interest, then it gets tough! On one hand, we are older and wiser, and ultimately responsible for their safety and well being.

We cannot as parents, in good conscience, throw our hands up in the air and say, "oh, go ahead, if you really want to ... try ecstasy, stop flossing your teeth, not get enough sleep, get pregnant, ride the freight trains, get a tattoo of elvis on your forearm, drop out of high school, or go live with your boyfriend." On the other hand, as much as we would like to and believe that as teens mature, they really can and should be held accountable for their decisions, "you made your bed, now lie in it," is much easier to say than really watch.

So, as parents of teens, we constantly have to make decisions and are frequenlty tied up in knots about what to do, how serious the possible outcomes are (to the big picture), and what consequences may befall our adorable young ones. If we are lucky, we hear about these potential disasterous ideas early enough to make a few gentle suggestions (i.e, have your considered ...) while the decision is being made, and then heave a sigh of relief when they make the right decision. If we are not lucky, we hear about these decisions after the fact, when their heels are dug in, and they are ready for a fight! This is when it is tough! As parents, if our gut tells us that this is wrong, it may be, but as kids get older, that no longer guarantees that it will not actually happen.

If you are like me, you may talk to friends, spend a few days shaking your head and wondering how, after all of our self-reflective, conscious parenting, this could be happening, then there may be a few days of heavy discussion, questioning, cajoling, trying to change their minds, etc.. and when that fails, you may try and assert your power, which will not work in high conflict, divorced families, or families blessed with really stubborn children. So, then you are faced with the gut-wrenching dilemma of what to do - let them do it, put up a fight, threaten, or take legal action (that is for the high-conflict divorced families - you know who you are),none of which may work, but all are potential strategies.

Here is the mediation part:
  • sit down somewhere quiet and tell yourself that in fact, it may be that no one knows what the "right" decision actually is.
  • There may not be a right or wrong decision or action, it simply is what it is, a choice, and every "choice" will have consequences and rewards, however, there may be what we believe is the "best" choice.
  • No matter how we fret and beat ourselves up, and wonder if we are doing what is right, we will actually never know if our way is "right," or if their way is "right," so we might as well figure out what we believe is "best."
  • Then, figure out what you are willing to do so that what you believe is "best," actually happens, and then do those things, but then let things be the way they are going to be, and most important, do not beat yourself up.
All we can do is model for our children that what we believe is best, is worth fighting for, and then, if they do what we hope they don't, it is what it is, and all we can do is love them, and be as supportive as we can while they live out the outcome related to their choice.

Bottom lines:
  • quit beating yourself up wondering if you are dong the right thing; you will never know;
  • every choice, is what it is, just a choice, and it is yours to make; and
  • trust yourself and your gut - fight for as long as you need to for what you believe, but then, let go.
The process will be what it is, and the outcome, will be what it is. Trust your love for the teenager, walk through the process, live with the outcomes of your choices, and stop trying to know if you are right - you never will.

It will be what it is. Blessings for peace!

Photo Credit: omnos
Inspirational Credit: My sister Lisa, in Austin, Texas

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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