You have been trying really hard to manage your teen’s behavior, and maybe by now you have already read many books, took your teen to many therapists, offered your teen money, removed the cell phone, forbidden him to see his friends, denied buying music from itunes, etc. At this point I suggest pausing again and for the purposes of continuing to look closely at the problem; let’s do an inventory of all the things you have tried to manage your teen’s problematic behavior as well as your emotions. The best way to do this is to draw up a table like the one shown below and complete it to the best you can.
What did you notice when completing this last form? Did you make any discoveries? If you completed this chart, kudos to you. You have successfully accomplished what many parents cannot do, which is looking at your parenting differently. At this point, you may have realized that when you are triggered by your teen’s problematic behaviors and respond to them in the best way you can while managing your own internal experience, some of the parenting strategies you have used certainly work in the short run but often in the long run they ruin your relationship with your teen.
If there is any part of you that feels like throwing away this book because your parenting skills are being considered, allow me to clarify that I am not suggesting that you are a bad parent or that you should let your teen get away with whatever he wants to do because he threatens you– that would certainly not be a fulfilling relationship for you as a parent. All I am suggesting here is that the difficult moments you and your teen go through cannot be understood in isolation but within the context of how the two of you interact with each other when you are both feeling triggered. You are both hurting.
Next post coming soon: Where to go from here?