Posted by: vkwspirit / Category:

  Sleep eludes me tonight as I consider the journey of parenting. After recently returning to the role of Guidance counselor at a high school for a brief month, I am reminded what strength and courage it takes to be the parent of a teenager. While each situation is very unique, there are many commonalities involved with parenting teenagers.
  We had a case conference with the mother of four children, two of which are teenagers, and the weariness on her face brought back memories of thousands of other such faces I've seen over my twenty plus years as a Guidance counselor. Searching for answers as to what to do to help one's child move through the ever changing dynamics of puberty - such things as adjusting to different teachers personalities and teaching styles to moving through friendships as peers begin to develop new ways to express their changing personalities and beliefs. All this while the young person is finding their emotions moving through a gamut of feelings that have yet to be explored.
  What one needs through such times of changing dynamics within and without is a stable base; something or someone that is a constant. That is to say, a "soft place to land," as Dr. Phil likes to say! That "place" is generally a person, although it may literally be a physical place to which one can go and pause, reflect, remember and reconnect to simpler times.
  The interesting dilemma is the caregiver is more than likely moving through such significant life changes at the same time as the young person! That creates quick a situation for both parties! What once worked so well, contributed to the emotional and mental stability for a person is now uprooted and rather than being a "safe place" becomes a source of disappointment and upheaval. Parents that once managed the relationship with their children very well, now wonder what alien has taken them over!
  For the young person who used to think their caregiver was the "center of their universe" there is confusion over how to not be so attached. They truly begin to think about how they will manage their life separate from their caregiver(s). Unfortunately, for most young people, those feelings are not always "available" for them to clearly understand, hence, they express their fear with seeming distaste for the one they used to so deeply need. Most generally it is a bloody collision course!
  The simple truth is, both caregiver and child need each other. They need to somehow manage to keep the life cycle changes within the context for which it is occurring - both of them need to remember the love that binds them. In the final analysis, it is the caregiver that must summons the strength to remember that simple truth. They must pray for strength to move through their changes and keep their anchor in the remembering of what it was like to be an adolescent beginning their journey into adulthood.
  My heart is heavy for caregivers confronting such life situations. I remember all too well how overwhelming it felt to look at my beautiful child and wonder if I could have done something different so my child did not have to experience such pangs of frustration - and, at the same time, I prayed for the time to arrive when they would leave home! Oh what guilt I felt about such feelings! As in all life's situations, looking back somehow erases the deep doubt, inner struggle and downright "yucky" feelings and all that is left is the laughter that comes from sharing the stories of the "survival!"
  I could not tell that mother who shed tears of frustration and fear in front of me today that one day she would laugh about the situation, all I could do was listen to her heart, offer a few recommendations for finding the support she needs and add her to my long list of prayers. I know she and her children will one day laugh about this period in time. but not before there are many tears shed between them. That "soft spot" never changes - it is the unconditional love that helps us find the balance in our lives to move through life's journey! And it is the one contributing factor that helps us become better human beings! When one is loved through the "awkward" times when we have no idea who we are, it helps us find our own inner strength; and it teaches us how to love others unconditionally! Ah, parenting - it is the greatest joy and biggest fear one can experience! What a tremendous gift for those willing to have their heart completely opened!

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