Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Nothing Lasts Forever

As the grandmother of five (seven if you count the two we have taken care of since they were infants) I get lots of phone calls from parents who need to vent.  With one grandson now out of his teenage years, and two who are in the throes of that challenging time, I can recognize good advice when I see it.  Michael L. Stoller, LCSW, lists the common sense suggestions that will help any parent survive and even keep enjoying their teenagers.  Wherever Stoller says "your son," you can substitute "your daughter."

Respect your son’s integrity and his authority over his own life.
Have faith that whatever you want to tell your son, you have told him already and he will remember it when the time comes.
Offer help with an open hand.
Try offering help in the form of a question.  “Would you like…?” or “How can I help?”
Be responsible and manage your own helplessness and fear without imposing it on him.
Never offer advice without asking permission first.
Tell your son “I love you. I am proud of you. I know you have what it takes. You are a wild man.”  Do this thousands different ways.
Be around not only physically, but also emotionally.
Walk your talk (i.e. if you want your son to be healthier, look at how you are taking care of your own health).
Be vulnerable.  Share some of your fears, worries, and uncertainties with him.
Admit when you are wrong and apologize frequently.
Be selfish.  Fill yourself up first prior to giving yourself away.
Always be cool and calm in the face of his distress, anger, or sadness.
Listen to your son even if he is yelling at you.
Say as little as possible in order to get your son to say as much as possible.
Use “I” statements.  Talk more about your feelings than his behavior.
Gauge your son’s mood prior to having tough conversations.
Drop everything you are doing if your son wants to talk to you.  This opportunity does not come frequently.
Let go of your pride (i.e. you don’t need to have the last word).
Focus on the 90% he is doing well instead of the 10% he is not.
THIS TIME WILL PASS! He won’t be a teenager forever.

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