At this pivotal time of our daughters life, she can become a completely different version of herself. For Mums, we are offered an opportunity to transition with her, into an upgraded version of ourselves, or not. The obstacle is … how do we do that?
What new skills do we need
- so we don’t feel frustrated and angry at their attitude?
- hurt or rejected when they pull away?
- inept when we both go through her stressful teen experiences, like cyberbullying, exclusion, mental illness or body-hating?
It’s true that raising teenagers has always been a challenge – well, at least since we moved into the industrial age. It’s also true that part of their journey to adulthood requires them to pull away from emotional dependency on us into emotional interdependency. The only problem is, we’re not taught how to help them become emotionally interdependent, so our children pull away from us and create emotional dependence on other people or substances. This isn’t their fault … how can they (or us) know what else to do, when we’ve not been taught?
There’s a missing piece
Without this piece, throughout puberty both parents and their children experience:
- a feeling loop in their relationship – different events but the same feeling of powerlessness, unworthiness, uncertainty
- feelings of hopelessness – not being able to see a way out, feeling under-resourced
- feeling alone, overwhelmed, unsupported, anxious
- helplessness in their relationship, not knowing how to ‘make things right’ or fix the problems
The good news
The emotional distress experienced by parents and their children can be addressed. But let me be clear…you can’t change life or expect that there’ll be no challenges, no heartaches, no mental illness. I used to think that was possible, but life has a way of humbling us all and those painful experiences showed me I had to find a way to feel at ease with life’s terms.
What I discovered, from raising 4 children and in my work with other Mothers, was I can function within my relationships in a way that shifts challenges into more connection and empowerment for myself and my child. By knowing how to move out of reaction and into a state of inner acceptance and strength, effective solutions appeared more readily and the outcomes I experienced felt better and were longer lasting.
I used to gather so much information
Which just meant I had more information on the ‘how to’ of things, but this didn’t translate into the actual ability to do those things and make permanent changes. I had the ‘how to’ of building my child’s self esteem. But what got in the way was how I felt and how they felt: the emotional dynamic of our reactions, created by unconscious beliefs and fears, always stopped permanent change and chipped away at our self-esteem. Unless I could stop these ‘cycles’ I saw I was unable to experience the love and connection I really wanted to feel in my relationship. Once I discovered the emotional keys I could use to cease the cycle and create connection, we both were able to communicate and move through whatever challenge we were facing together, feeling heard, understood and supported. This was life changing for myself, my partner and my children.
So what can you do?
Upskill. Use the last few months of this year to practice the emotional tools you’ll need to support your daughter to start (or go back to) high school, you’ll be modelling emotional agility, mental resilience and self-empowerment that will set the tone for her high school life and beyond. Neither of you have to freak-out. Phew! It’s the inside job you can do right now, that will give you, as a Mother the emotional advantage you need to navigate the disempowering culture you’ll face with your girl as she emerges into a woman. It’s also the best gift you can give to yourself…imagine, ‘knowing’ what to do to feel at ease in any situation. Very helpful as a Mum of a teenage girl!
Start building your emotion education – look to the feelings underneath what’s happening on the surface. Show up for yourself in those moments of emotional tension, with the intention of not fixing, not changing or trying to work things out. Surrender to the flow of life – you being in this allowing state has this magical effect of keeping you in your heart which naturally creates a safe space for your daughter to show up for herself and all she is feeling. By practicing the skill of staying in your heart (and not jumping into your head) you’ll feel more connected and so will she!
Sending you love,
Lisa Jayne is an Educator, Relationship Coach, Author and Speaker helping mothers to learn the skills and tools they need to emotionally prepare and support their 8-16 year old daughters in their journey through puberty, feeling close and deeply connected.