There are just too many thoughts running through my head at one given time. I often think that’s why I don’t write as much – where do I start? The spaghetti mix that’s in here (finger to forehead) is not for the faint hearted – I guess I should know, right? (insert skew faced emoji).
But, today I was chatting to a friend online and it made me realize that there’s one thing that keeps nagging and running around my brain that I’m needing to just write down and share. We have two daughters – that are beautifully unique and respond to completely different approaches to everything. So when it comes to helping them navigate their delicate journey called adolescence, I must admit that it’s been interesting and challenging all at the same time.
Our one daughter is an open book – when we ask her how she’s feeling about something, she dishes the “deep down” feelings of it all like a gushing fountain. Whereas the other is like fort knox and you literally have to seek out the 24 hour secret code to open the vault, for that day. What’s hilarious is that, as much as I am the extrovert I’m almost exactly like our second daughter, in terms of dishing what’s in my head and heart about my intimate thoughts. It’s easy to be expressive and share my immediate responses – but when it comes to what’s in the deep dark corners…….. good luck Fred.
Anyway, so I honestly don’t even know why I’m writing this down? I guess it’s to share what I’ve done with each of our girls and how my hope for both of them has helped me navigate the journey. Let me tell you what my hope is for both of them.
I’m really hoping that they will always talk to my husband or myself about what’s in their hearts. I’m hoping that this will continue through into their adult years. Why am I hoping? I hear you ask, well – as many know, adolescence and parenting have their individual journeys and like the gift of “free will” that I have – my children have the exact same gift. I can try as much as I can to force them into this ideal little mold of what I’m wanting them to be for/to me and yet it can never be about that. I’m learning everyday that they are their own individual human beings and their journeys are theirs – not mine. I am merely a coach, facilitator and spectator. I have to respect the boundary, even from as young as 6 years old. (which is when I started to notice certain personality traits with each one)
Ok, so with that being my hope I’ve had to lay ground work from years ago in order to try and get the relationship to that place. To be honest – it’s a lot easier with the first one, because it’s all in the realm of “firsts”. First kid, first birth, first lost tooth, first nightmare, first crush, first to talk about s.e.x.,…….and the list goes on. Some of them I’ve reacted to – but others I’ve planned and worked methodically with her to help her navigate herself. Just as an example – I chatted to her about a year ago, when she was having a melt down in the kitchen because she was SOOOOO ANGRY and wanted to break everything. She’s the type of child that I can hold by the shoulders, look in the eye and gently say, “feelings are good, even angry ones – it’s what we do with them that’s important. You’ve identified that you are angry and want to hurt something, now it’s up to you to find some self control and process your actions with that feeling. If that means just sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor doing nothing but breathe – then do that. But it’s up to you, what kind of human you want to be. If you want some suggestions, come to me if you’d like.” I walked away and she proceeded to process what she was feeling and dealt with it wisely. (so glad it went well)
I can remember that being a turning point for us. We have had many a moment like that and we have allowed each other to be ourselves. Yes, I say “we” because she calls me on my stuff too – and we’ve come to a place of respectfully working through our hormones together. It isn’t as easy as it sounds, but she is the easier nut to crack of the two.
With our second beauty – I’ve found that making sure that her love language is tanked up. As I might have mentioned before, her love language and mine don’t match up at all and that’s ok. I feel that it’s really aided my personal growth and also to understand many other people that are very different to me.
We can immediately see when something is up with her. If she hasn’t been tanked up with at least 7 hugs a day or a word of encouragement – she will lash out in some way towards her siblings and it’s all over. I’ve stopped myself before disciplining her because she is like a tortoise – if you attack or shoot her down, she will retreat into her shell and not come out for a very long time. Which in turn defeats the purpose of the discipline and the personal growth she needs. (and more often than not, I need)
With her I have had to talk her through a list of feelings and get her to identify which one is on her list, for that moment. I then help her navigate to what triggered the emotion and then help her understand that is no who she is, but rather a natural response to the situation. She has become a lot more confident with identifying how she’s feeling, but I can see and feel that it’s a much longer road to being completely open with me about her heart.
It was mainly because of her that I stopped blogging. I asked her once why she didn’t tell me her thoughts (after digging at her for a few minutes – I was on the brink of begging) and then she broke and said, “because you’ll tell everyone what I think!”
I must admit that I was quite caught off guard. I didn’t expect that at all. It was then and there that I decided I needed to earn her trust and make sure that she knew I had her back. So I stopped blogging about them, and I stopped talking to my friends about a lot of their cute little antics. I realized that in order to gain her respect and trust I had to start with her really early. That was a year and a half ago. She has finally let me loose with what we’ve learned together. Thus the verbal vomit on this post (#facepalm)
I had to eventually explain to her (and her sister) that just as much as they are learning – I am learning too and that there are memories that I’d really love to keep a record of what we’ve journeyed on together.
So, after typing out about a 1000 plus words – the summary of what I’m trying to say would come down to, getting to know them as individuals, treating them as such and going for relationship that has respect and honour. It is a long journey, one that I am committed fully to navigate and walk out. We are not perfect and that’s ok – I actually love that about all of us. So, if you have a teen, preteen or junior adolescent – just know that you’re not alone – relationships are hard especially when it’s with a little 8-10 year old who doesn’t know how they’re feeling or if it’s ok to feel that way. Lift your head and look at them and enjoy the gem that is being revealed. I honestly would welcome any pearls of wisdom from those gone before – “do’s” and “wished I’d never’s” – do share your wisdom with me ❤