About 15 years ago as I was landed with my first teenager, a wise old soul said four simple words; ‘don’t take it personally!’ These words have become my mantra and are possibly the wisest words ever spoken to me when it has come to raising the plethora of little darlings I have been blessed with over the years! Naturally, my tongue is planted firmly in my cheek as I sprout this holy rhetoric!!
My story is an odd one, laced with lunacy, as I not only took these cherubs in to my home; I decided to make a career out of working with young people in crisis. There are few in this veritable herb-garden that I have not encountered; from the 14 year old psychotic, a drug-addict prostitute, to the mildly-mannered, anxious, over achiever.
Don’t get me wrong, teenagers have – and always will – scare the crap out of me. I remember working as a school counsellor about five years ago – having to walk around the school grounds at lunch time. The level of intimidation felt, was on par with entering a Hells Angels club house (or at least, how I imagine that would feel.)
Nevertheless, there are a few things I’ve learnt! The key one being, “don’t take it personally!”
Teenagers don’t do things to us!
They do things because of what is going on for them!
Their behavior, whether we like it or not, is the clearest insight we have into what is going on for them! Their words can, at times, be confusing and misleading, but their actions never lie. It’s not about us; it’s about what’s going on for them. Always!!!
This is where it gets tricky – and this is where it becomes about us! Our reaction!! God only knows, that can take on different forms. I am the first to admit that, at times, I am like Yoda; wise, peaceful, serene and supportive! On the flip side, get me on a wrong day, or wrong five minutes, and am giving the old fish wife down the road a solid run for her money!! Not having the last word has never been my strong point, but I am learning to let go! Slowly!!
If I am capable of keeping in mind the above-mentioned, and can separate myself out, knowing it’s not about me – I can either walk away, or simply take a breath and not react – my favorite, and least well-executed response!! I know however, whenever I actually achieve this, the outcome is so much better.
I won’t sprout all my worldly wisdom today or I’ll have nothing left to write tomorrow. I nervously say that I feel like I’m over the worst with my kids, as they are 16, 17, 18 and 21 … but I am discovering a whole host of new challenges that come with the transition into adulthood. My own anxieties and self-doubt as a parent being at the forefront!
Have I done enough?
Will my boys respect women and be domestic? Do the girls have self respect?
Do they know how to avoid danger? Cars!!!!!! URRRGGHHHH
Please tell me I am not alone in these fears????