Are you a resilient parent?

Most parents of teenagers understand the benefits of being resilient. Adolescence is a time in a teenager’s life that includes more autono...

Most parents of teenagers understand the benefits of being resilient. Adolescence is a time in a teenager’s life that includes more autonomy, risk, and choices. Teens are faced with driving, sex, unsupervised parties, drinking, academic pressure, peer pressure, and lots of decisions that could result in big problems. It is imperative that you, the parent, be able to recover quickly after difficulties or you will end up the victim of your child’s adolescence and they will be the victim of your fear.

Teens need to take risks, to make mistakes, to feel consequences, and to experience pain and heartbreak. It is an important part of their maturation and learning. This is how they differentiate, make connections, and evaluate risk as they move into the world independently. Often the teenagers are quite resilient and bounce back quickly from their own mistakes and disappointments. It’s the parents and caregivers who are afraid, stuck, and lacking the capacity to bounce back.

So ask yourself this very important question: Are you a resilient parent?

I recently read an article about resilient people and the 5 characteristics they seem to consistently have. In essence it said that resilient people are mindful, don’t compare, see difficulties as opportunities, look for the positive, and don’t try to control life.

It struck me that those five characteristics go hand in hand with many Slow Parenting ideas.

Being mindful is about paying attention and being deliberate as is Stewardship. We ask you to be curious about your teen and to pay attention as he/she grows and changes. Don’t take anything for granted or think you have your kid all figured out – you don’t!

Don’t compare your teen with others is just really good advice. Don’t compare him/her to their peers or to you or to your ex. This is all about Respecting Their Personalities. Let your teenagers be who they are even as they are exploring and changing. When you compare, you will inevitably find “room for improvement” which translates to a teenager as “I am not enough as I am.”

See difficulties as opportunities is more about owning your own fears, both noble and selfish. It is powerful to say to your teen, “go ahead, make mistakes, take risks even though both of us are scared. We will get through it together either celebrating or cleaning up the mess.”

Another quality of resilient parents is the decision to find the humor and the positive in situations. For Slow Parenting this is absolutely Catching Them Doing it Right. I had a teacher of mine say once that he experienced everything in life as either funny or interesting. Those were the only two choices. This was one of the most peaceful fearless men I have ever met. I encourage you to try this on with your teen. Find everything your teenager does either funny or interesting. No judgment, no fear and lots of resilience.

And we come to surrender…

There is so much we can’t control for our teens. We can’t keep them safe, physically or emotionally. We can’t guarantee their academic success or financial success. We can only hope they practice the values that most matter to us. And we certainly can’t buffer out teens from violence, poverty, anger, or tough choices.

So what can we do? We can stay very open to listening to them and refrain from lecturing. When you lecture you are telling your teenager your stories, your lessons, your conclusions, your fears, and your solutions. When you listen you get to hear your teen’s stories, successes, solutions, fears, mistakes, and desires. Surrender into being the support and consultant for your teenager. Let go of being the teacher and guide. Parents often miss the best part of their teens when they don’t listen. They miss how competent, creative, funny, and smart their own kid is.

For me being resilient is about acknowledging fear, but only briefly before moving quickly back into curiosity and acceptance. What is it for you?


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