The topic came up in a conversation with my cousin who has 3 teenage kids. How do you decide if the teenager who is happy -go- lucky is really an irresponsible kid or that he has mastered the ultimate life hack of living stress-free? Our mom here agreed he is stress-free,but it is because she takes on all the stress on his behalf!
I’m sure we have all been in those shoes at some point in time. So what do we make of it? And more importantly can we or should we be doing something about it?
It has often puzzled me how one minute I feel my teenager is so mature, responsible and trustworthy and within a moment it can change and he is so irresponsible, does not listen and not caring at all.
And to add to that I am not sure if it is me who is interpreting things differently at different times depending on my own expectations,moods, feelings, hormones and circumstances!
Finally, we all know teenagers are going through major hormonal changes, dealing with other teenagers in school and have stress related to physical and emotional changes. Add to that each kid is born unique (not even like his own sibling) and is faced with our expectations of him or her.
We can clearly see the least we can do is give him a break! Easier said than done , I know!
Over time , my take on this issue is to distinguish between Expectations and Freedom of choice.
Expectations are agreements we make and revise periodically regarding his duties as being part of this family. They typically include chores, social behavioral and school related expectations.
Freedom of choice includes Everything else! What he does with his spare time, his attitude towards life, his seriousness or aloofness to issues, his choices in all things etc.
What we can do to play a bigger role in shaping him ( as we like to believe ) is be the role model in major aspects of life…. Spiritual, Self-worth, Money management, Purpose and Passion, Fear, Relationships, Income and freedom and others like these. Think about it!
In my own experience when I myself am more aligned in these key areas, the more understanding I am towards him and the less controlling I become.
And contrary to what we believe, the more freedom they truly have, the more they will grow in a healthy, natural and organic way.
One more thing to remember is that once the teenage years are over they do come back to their senses. All the things they have imbibed during their turbulent teenage years become visible and apparent. So my mantra is to have patience and continue doing the right things even though it may seem it is not having any effect on him.
Now I am realizing that when my teenager is happy, carefree, laughing, serious, too focused, quiet, loud, a loner…I am glad he is normal. At his annual checkup when the Doctor praises him for being stress- free, it is a true compliment! And if I am feeling stressed I need to pause, take a breather and realign my own self!
When was the last time you blew it with your teen ? and how did you handle it?