There’s a lot of fear in parenting. Whether it’s fear of your daughter’s spirit being eaten by middle school Mean Girls or her values being threatened by drinking and sex games at a high school party, being a parent of a teen girl is, ahem…challenging. Perhaps your baby is starting college, and you’re considering sending her to school with a case of No-Date-Rape Red nail polish and an armed bodyguard. Growing up is scary; having your kids grow up is worse. At last week’s taping of Oprah’s Lifeclass Dr. Shefali said, “If you’re trying to change your child, the message they hear is that they’re not enough.” That hit me right in my heart.
Trying to change your child is based in a fear that they won’t be safe the way they are.
After hearing parents express their many fears, my take away from this life-changing event is the antidote to fear: acceptance.
It’s pretty normal to have your kids begin to pull away from you in high school, as they are beginning to define themselves. Unfortunately, some kids are defining themselves by anger due to a less than ideal home-life or being in a crowd where cruelty and negativity are prized. These kids are defining themselves as bullies, just when your precious baby is entering school with them. You know the dangers of high school. You hear about the mean girls, drugs, sex and alcohol, and you’re afraid that your daughter will be crushed. That fear makes you feel powerless. So you put stricter rules in place, because that’s the way to keep your baby safe, right? WRONG! That is merely an homage to your fear-based ego, and it doesn’t work for these reasons:
- You can’t keep your kids out of trouble when they aren’t with you, and worrying about them is a waste of your energy.
Worry is not love; worry is fear.
- This control/power play will drive your teen further away from you than their burgeoning independence is already taking them.
- The way to protect your kid is to accept them as they are and teach them to accept others as they are. The easiest way to do this is by leading by example. Acceptance is a daily practice.
Acceptance was one of the many valuable messages that Dr. Shefali; if you missed it, please tune in to the OWN channel on September 21st. You can see yours truly in the front row of the second show. Dr. Shefali is right on the money with her focus on acceptance. In my experience, acceptance incorporates a focus on being, not doing. Be with your daughter exactly where she is, freaked out or ecstatic; both are fine. Your responses to either situation are, “Everything is gonna’ be okay” and, “How can I help?” Know that, regardless of the circumstance, she’s learning the lesson she’s supposed to learn, and you are only there for support.
If you are feeling freaked out, take care of YOU. Practice radical self-care and self-acceptance. Be the calm center of the storm. Be the oasis of humor and support that your daughter needs to orient herself. The only thing we can control is our own actions, thoughts, and reactions. Teach your daughter to find a place of quiet gratitude by doing it yourself. Better yet, try being quiet together. Do chores together. Eat together every night with no cell phones at the table. Teach her to unplug, so that she gains some perspective. Teach her about using her Girl Power for good, regardless of what other people are doing.
Teach your daughter the importance of finding her Pride by doing it yourself. Teach her how to build her Inner Pride with quiet time and acceptance and her Outer Pride by choosing friends who have the same goals as she does. If you have no idea how to accomplish this, I am holding a free call with some tips to help you Calm the Freak Down. I want to expand the sense of hope and gratitude that I felt in Dr. Shefali’s Lifeclass by helping freaked out moms practice acceptance.
As a reformed control freak, acceptance is my life’s journey.
PS Join me to learn how to create a closer more joyful relationship with your teen. I will share what has worked, and what hasn’t worked, while raising four teenage daughters and what works for my clients. Click here to RSVP for the free call.