Living with a teenager is relentless. The pace of the average family is at times close to ridiculous. Parents are juggling their own career ambitions, their marriage, their health, their children’s extracurricular activities (do you feel like a taxi driver?), the housework and the bills…not to mention their teenager’s constant drama!
In the fear of sounding idealistic I would like to introduce the concept of stopping! What’s that you may say, stopping??? How about I introduce a more technical term called a circuit breaker instead. A circuit breaker is anything that deliberately stops your routine and gives both you and your teenager time out. It aims to break the cycle of chaos that we all find ourselves in from time to time.
A circuit breaker is anything that interrupts the momentum of life and gives you a chance to clear your head. When things feel out of control the best thing to do is to stop and regroup. Making decisions when you are highly emotional or ultra-busy may not produce the best results. It is amazing how much easier it is to see things in a new light when things are in perspective.
Circuit breakers are vital for any parent wanting to stay sane. I have seen families use small circuit breakers everyday very successfully. I have also seen families in crisis use extreme circuit breakers like sending their child to a third world country to see how the other half live! Obviously, the more dramatic the situation, the more dramatic circuit breaker a parent needs to choose to use.
Circuit breakers that families might consider using regularly include:
– Having time away from phones and computers (this is the only way teenagers really get a break from their peers),
– Going out of the house for a walk or coffee together (spending time in a different environment usually means a change in conversation),
– Banning the discussion of tense topics for a period of time (sometimes it is best to avoid a ‘hot’ topic for a few days),
– Planning regular sleepovers at a relative or friend’s house you trust (this will give everyone a break),
– Inviting a friend over for the weekend (Having someone else in the house will temporary change the dynamics of the home),
– Taking regular holidays as a family (camping is ideal for teenagers),
– Getting involved in a local charity as a family (I can’t express the emotional benefits of giving to someone less fortunate enough).
Extreme circuit breakers (used in extreme situations) may include:
– Changing schools,
– Organising an extended family holiday,
– Sending your teenager on a trip to a third world country with a charity group,
– Enrolling your teenager in a boot camp.
Stopping also allows you to listen to something else accept your teenager’s voice! Parents spend a lot of time listening to their teenagers. I encourage parents to spend an equal amount of time listening to their own hearts. Parents usually have a really good idea of what is true and right for their child. Your heart is the most intuitive part of who you are. If you stop and listen to those things you truly believe, you are more likely to be confident enough to follow through on them.
THANK YOU to everyone who has been passing these blog posts on, and for all your kind emails about their impact on your family. If you have a topic you would like me to blog about email me at email@example.com and I will respond to it as soon as I can.
If you would like to book me to speak at your school or community event email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MOST IMPORTANTLY if your teenager needs support from a psychologist, counsellor or mentor Youth Excel would love to help. You can contact me at email@example.com.
What Teenage Girls Don’t Tell their Parents is available at www.michellemitchell.org for $24.95 plus postage.