Think back to Middle School and those awkward moments of wanting to be more grown up but still realizing you’re really just a kid. Then think back to High School. Remember what life was like for you as a freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior. Each year was so different, right? Each year you experienced different things and grew immensely. Remember those times when you felt vulnerable, scared, and self-conscious. We all have these stories we tell to ourselves about life back then. What we needed. What we wished would have happened. What we wished our parents did differently. Think about it for a moment and then think about how differently your life may have gone if you had had that extra support, love, encouragement, guidance, validation, etc. that you so wished you had.
How would your life be if you had what you needed when you were younger? What would be different? What would have changed for you? What long term effects would it have had?
Please don’t think I’m telling you to commiserate, regret, or wish that things were any different than they are now. I strongly believe that everything we go through is NECESSARY for our growth and development into becoming the kind of person you are today. It happened because it was supposed to happen. But for pondering purposes today let this play out for a moment.
Would your life be different?
Mine would. There are things that I wished were different. There are things I wished I hadn’t done or things that I wish I did do. Times when I was too insecure to try out for something and so I stayed small instead. Times when I was pretended to be overly confident but was terrified inside and wished I had more encouragement to believe in myself more.
I have teens. I know a bit about what life was like at that age and while I don’t know exactly what they’re going through because they are different people than I was in different situations and circumstances but I can empathize because feelings are feelings. I know what insecurity feels like. I know what doubt feels like. I know what embarrassment feels like. I know what being bullied feels like.
I don’t have to know every detail of their lives to be a good mother to them. Personal space is a beautiful thing. But I can love them more, I can offer them what I wished I had in those moments of feeling that way. I can be there more fully because I can remember what it felt like.
I can love them as I wished I had been loved while learning to love them as they need to be loved. They might need something different. In fact, they probably do. But even the gesture of offering that love, that time, that space that says, “I’m here for you” will open doors and let them know that it’s a safe place to be, a safe place to grow, a safe place to make mistakes.
Too many teenagers feel that they have to be a certain way or they’ll disappoint their parents/family/friends/teachers. This is a barrier I’d love to tackle. This is the time for them to learn, grow, struggle, and feel the full spectrum of feelings while we’re there to catch them, teach them, guide them, and love them.
Things change when they get older. It’s never too late to mend gaps and strengthen relationships but it’s so much easier to do it in this beautiful season of teenage-hood.
My message to you today is to ponder this.
What did you need when you were their age?
Who did you need when you were a teen?
Can you be that for them while learning what they need?
It doesn’t matter if you “don’t understand” exactly what they’re going through. You don’t need to. You know enough. You know what those emotions feel like and you remember, even now, years and years later what you wished you had.
Be that for them.
Be scared and vulnerable.
Be a little self-conscious to stretch yourself and do something, say something you normally wouldn’t. It’s worth it to give them that gift. It’s worth it to teach them, to show them that you’re there, that they’re loved, and that you can learn and grow together.
I’ve created a freebie for you. A template of a letter that I encourage you to write to your teen (tween). It’s an, “I was once where you are now” letter. There’s a sample on the first page of some ideas you can write but you’ll want to write your own in your own words. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know exactly what’s happening in their minds right now. It’s enough for them to know that you’re there, willing to be open and vulnerable.
They watch you, learn from you, emulate you. Give them the example of openness, of love, of vulnerability. This is a trait you’ll want them to have, to copy, to share with you when they’re ready. Grab that copy/template HERE: I was once where you are now…
Let me know how it goes…
If this is too hard or scary for you right now, it’s okay. I want to help you. Check out my Parent/teen coaching program. I offer this to you too for FREE but only for a VERY LIMITED TIME. If you’re ready to uplevel your relationship with your teens (or even just ready to uplevel YOUR life) subscribe RIGHT AWAY and download the info sheet and mandatory questionnaire. (Subscription box is found in the side bar – look for the big blue submit button).
Your life will be forever changed for the better.
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