the hardest part about parenting teens – and how to fix it

I talk to parents of teens all the time, from all different walks of life.  Some teens are going along with school and activities; some are struggling with self-esteem issues due to learning disabilities; some are dealing with more serious issues like alcoholism, toxic dating situations, self-harm, and more.  Parents tell me over and over that there is very little support for dealing with parenting of teens, mainly because each teen is a complete individual, and there is a need for privacy so not everything can be shared the way parents shared things their toddlers or even early elementary children were going through.

The hardest part of parenting teens is knowing what to do!  Any general instruction seems to apply less and less and what happens in conversation really can be a reaction to a situation that already has taken place, and it’s hard to know how much to hold a boundary or push for more responsibility.  Our oldest will be turning 18 this summer, and we also have a fourteen year old in the house, so I totally understand these feelings!

The number one way you can fix the hardest part of parenting teens, besides spending time WITH THE TEEN IN FRONT OF YOU, is to understand teen development.  Every teen is an individual, but there are archtypal patterns to teenaged development that can help us figure out how to parent more effectively!

Early Adolescence- ages 13 to the big watershed changes surrounding ages 15/16

  • there is often an obvious placing of space by the teen between himself or herself and the family.  This is an age when many families complain their teens are in their rooms and not coming out.  This is a safety measure for a gradually new emerging human being who feels the need to protect him or herself as they gain their own perspectives on life.
  • this is often an age of confrontation against authority and boundaries, but behind that is often a measure of uncertainty.  Using communication skills can be helpful.  If you are unsure how to react, try reading the book “How to Listen so Teens Will Talk and How To Talk So Teens Will Listen.”
  • it is often an age of emotional extremes.  Ninth graders are certainly very much more like middle schoolers than eleventh graders.
  • It is a time of measuring oneself against others, which is why social media can be so harmful for many teens.  Please use boundaries and know what your children are doing online!
  • It is a time of using safety and boundaries (self imposed or parent imposed) versus delving into a more open world.  

How do you parent this stage?

  • Respectful communication
  • Spending time with your teen; they are going to open up working side by side, in the car, or before they go to sleep. Spend time with them!
  • Play ho-hum with the emotional extremes. Be steady.
  • Don’t let the world just open up with no boundaries.  They are too young and need your support, encouragement, boundaries, safety net.
  • Let them fail and take the consequences of things.  You can only help to a certain point regarding things that have to be done. Do not do it for them!  This will impair the later stages of development unfolding.

Middle Adolescence – ages 15 or 16 to 18

  • This is a time of increased personal responsibility and realizing that not everything is someone else’s fault.
  • They are experimenting with finding emotional intimacy in friends, maybe with a significant other, but hopefully finding a way that their own personality and beliefs remains intact in the relationships.
  • They don’t want to be identified with their childhood for right now!
  • They have enthusiasm for a new challenge and want to experience that within themselves or out in nature or in academics
  • They can feel inadequate or inferior and may hide their innermost feelings
  • Sensitive teens might regress and turn to escapism

How do you parent this age?

  • Understand their vulnerability; help them deal with their innermost feelings if they are sensitive but also let them take actions and fail – do not do everything for them in an attempt to shield them
  • Artistic work,whatever that entails, is really important for this age – so theater, drawing, painting, woodworking, building things, modeling or sculpting, handwork, book binding – are all really important forms for inner self-expression
  • Help them get the wider context and the enthusiasm for a challenge in a safer way, especially for those 15-17 year olds.
  • Be there, be present.  They need you to not do things for them, but to help them, guide them, empower them!  Some older teens need more set parameters than others.  Be careful with your own boundaries as to what you will carry.

Late Adolescence – ages 18 to 21

  • They are grappling with the big questions:  Who Am I?  What Do I Want?  What Am I Capable Of?  
  • Then they have to follow up these questions with their own actions – the actions come from their own abilities, so if they have had everything done for them in early and middle adolescence, late adolescence isn’t going to look pretty.
  • They still find it hard to accept criticism.  This can still be an age of idealism.
  • They may start to explore and recognize that their personal development also intersects with a cause or community and get involved.
  • They may find their own place, their own work, a significant other or group of friends and community

How Do You Parent This Age?

  • Support them as they try out different healthy  paths.
  • Help them develop a love for responsibility – if you did the work in early and middle adolescence, this will come naturally!
  • Help them identify the abilities they carry that will help them move into action
  • Encourage them

Those of you with teens, what are the most successful and least successful things you have done in parenting or seen other parents do during these years? I would love to hear from you.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

 

 

easy ways to own your life

When I came back from the Waldorf Homeschooling Conference, which was held March 8-9 in the Atlanta area, I wrote a post about owning it.  I got some great feedback on that post, and families who are hungry to have a more peaceful life, a more satisfying homeschooling experience, a better outlook as a family are wondering HOW to do it.

These are the easiest ways I can think of to own your life

Figure out your goals.  Sometimes this is easier said than done.  If your goal is nebulous, like increased family peace, I think you need to think about what parts of the day are not peaceful? Which child is derailing the peace?  Are you derailing the peace with your own reactions?  If you can really break it down, then you can set goals to really address the smallest and easiest steps that would have the biggest impact.

Ask yourself, what is the ONE thing I can do today toward my goal?  If you have a bigger, overarching goal, it may be that you can  break it down into five baby steps and then you have five things you could do to address those baby steps – but most of us can’t do five things in one day!  We can pick one thing and work towards that one thing, and then move on to another baby step and finally all the baby steps are conquered and the goal is within reach.

Check where you are. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am exhausted from life and I need to be very careful about what goals I set,  how I intend to address them, and the timing of everything.  Sometimes I need to pick a different time to start or to give myself a lead in period to build up when to start the baby step for my goal.

Find accountability.  If there is another adult in the house, maybe that person can be your accountability partner. If not, find a friend who will support you or someone also trying to accomplish the same type of goal.  Check in with each other, and encourage each other!

You might need to put money in the game, and you will definitely need to put time in the game. That’s just the reality.  I talk to parents all the time who want to improve their marriage, but they don’t want to spend money on counseling, dates, babysitting (but admit they are getting nowhere fast on their own without any of that), or homeschooling parents who want everything laid out for their homeschooling adventure but don’t want to spend any money on a consultation or resources.  Not everything takes money but the reality is that  some things do.  Decide for yourself what you need to invest in, how much your investment should be or can be, and if it is an absolute and essential priority how you will get it done with the schedule you have today and the budget you have today or what you can change to meet your goal.

I love this season of renewal, and to me it is the jumping point for reaching some new goals – I would love to hear your goals around parenting and homeschooling.  Let’s share and support each other!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

owning it

This weekend I had the pleasure of presenting three sessions at a Waldorf homeschooling conference in the Southeast.  It was amazing to be there with Melisa Nielsen of Waldorf Essentials, Jean Miller of Waldorf-Inspired Learning, Jodie Mesler of Living Music, Judy Forster of Mama Jude’s, Brian and Robyn Wolfe of Waldorf*ish, and inner work leader Sheila Petruccelli.

A whole Friday night and Saturday focused on Waldorf homeschooling  for early years through high school and creating a peaceful home!   Can you imagine?

And as I looked around, it struck me that these participants – who had come to the Southeast from as far away as Seattle and Denver and Missouri  and all over the Southeast – had come here to do the work.  This made me so happy because…..

If we want something , we have to own it.

We have to figure out the work that will go into our goal, and map out the plan to get it done, and then have the initiative to really dig in and follow through.

Nothing is going to just fall into your lap.  It takes some time and effort.

This includes concrete goals in business, homeschooling, homemaking, parenting,  and life and also the goals of such elusive things as “happiness” or “peace.”  I always tell my older children that happiness will not fall on top of them like an anvil falling out of the sky , flattening the cartoon character.  We create these things in our lives, and we perservere through the things that are up and down in life with a focus on finding these things even in the bad moments.

So, ask yourself:

  • What would that goal look like for me?  Are my expectations/goals realistic?
  • What would be the  baby steps that I need to do to break down this goal?  What is one concrete step I could take today today?
  • Who could I help be on my team to help me create this goal?  What part would they need to play?

Get out of your own way, put yourself in the game, and help your children do the same.  This is responsibility. For a good American football analogy,  put yourself in the game and run the actual play, so to speak.  If you sit on the sidelines, you will never contribute to the touchdown as part of a team or make the touchdown yourself. 

What are you struggling with today and how can you own that?

 If you need help, I will be opening a few consultation slots in April.  I do this only a few times a year, so if you have something burning on your mind to accomplish for parenting or homeschooling, email at admin@theparentingpassageway.com so we can talk by phone! (I put out all my lesson plans and childhood developmental tips for FREE on this blog, and I have for ten years, but the phone consultations for paid clients. :))

Blessings and love,

Carrie

 

 

Worthy

So many of us are bogged down with life right now.  Whether it is small children who aren’t sleeping through the night, dealing with elderly parents, tough and challenging issues with older teenagers – we all have something going on.

But, what I want you to remember today and heading into this New Year is that you are WORTHY.  You are important and amazing.

You are worthy of sleep and rest.

You are worthy of preparing and eating healthy meals.

You are worthy of daily exercise.

You are worthy of clothes that fit.

You are worthy of a partner that cherishes you and loves you and puts you above all else.

You are worthy of being treated with respect.

You are worthy of being the King or  Queen of your own home and your own life.

You are worthy of setting boundaries and saying no.

You are worthy of friends who love you and want to spend time with you.

You are worthy to find times to laugh every day.

You are worthy of healing.

You are worthy to let go of the anger and saddness that is consuming you.

You are worthy of the sunrises and sunsets painted in the sky  just for you.

You are worthy of having a wonderful, healthy, amazing 2019.

I am so excited about this year, and I hope you are too.

Blessings and love,

Carrie

5 Steps To A Terrific Year

The goal of The Parenting Passageway is to support parents in creating vibrant and compassionate developmental parenting and educational practices.  I have spent a lot of time this winter break recently dreaming and planning some ways to get this message out in a larger and bigger way, not only through the Internet, but through public speaking and conferences, and yes, the ebooks I keep promising myself I will write!

But with the New Year upon us, I was thinking about  how we can begin with ourselves. The reason for this is simple:  if we set the tone in our family, if we are the authors of our family life, the guides for our children, then there must be a way to set a foundation of being vibrant for our children.

These are the five steps I have been dreaming of this week, and I wanted to share them with you:

  1. Forgiveness – of others and of ourselves.  I wrote about this process  in this post
  2. If you need to, do the inner work around feeling worthy and deserving of all the good things to come.  I find some  of us struggle with these areas and secretly feel we aren’t very worthy and are just happy when things go well by sheer luck. I think this is where prayer or another spiritual practice really can help.
  3. Design your year with your intentions in mind – what are your hopes, dreams, goals? Make a vision board, use a word to encompass your year, draw a picture/circle in the round to represent the months, write a mission statement.  Putting our sometimes secret hopes and wishes out there can be scary or intimidating, and yet, I think when we do, they are more likely to happen simply because we focus on them and we are more likely to consider how to make this come true.  If you schedule the time and your focus, then good things will happen.
  4. Think about the why’s and how’s behind your intentions.  How will the things you want really come to fruition?  Also, is there a bigger why behind the intentions for the year – how will it help you serve your purpose in your family and the world?  
  5. Set aside time for a self care/daily routine to focus on your intentions and create your own vibrant self-care  for your physical body every day as this is the foundation for family life and the things you want to create in your life.  I like many of the methods mentioned in this book and it is free on KindleUnlimited

It is going to be a terrific year!  I would love to hear the things you want to come true this year!

Blessings and love,

Carrie

The Number One Thing You Must Do To Have A Successful Year

Today is the Feast of St. Stephen in the Christian year (tomorrow is the Feast for my Orthodox Christian readers), and I think it holds great significance for those of us looking ahead to 2019.  Even if you are not Christian, stop and hear me out for a minute.

St. Stephen was one of the first of seven deacons the original apostles ordained to take care of the poor in Jerusalem. His life was one of service to others. He was the first one to be martyred for his work, and we know his face was “like the face of an angel” as he stood before his accusers and the people.

So, you might be asking, what does this have to do with me and 2019?

Well, because the simple truth is YOU are an influencer.  This term is thrown around a lot, you see it on You Tube Videos and Instragram account descrpitions – “I am an influencer!”  And rightfully so, as  far as social media goes.  But as a human being, and especially as a parent, we are all influencers!

St. Stephen was an influencer above all as the first archdeacon to help the poor.  However, we can all be influencers.  We all can work to influence, support, nourish, and help the people we come into contact with. If we listen hard enough,  we  can discern what work we need to accomplish for the service of humanity.

I have some BIGGER dreams for this year, now that I am feeling healthier finally.  I want to influence 50,000 people in supporting vibrant, compassionate, developmental parenting and education.  I want to think about refreshing my skills in medicine and healing now that my children are 17,14,and 9, which will definitely require a lot of work on my part since I have been out of the game.  I want to be the healthiest I have ever been. We are going to have an epic year with family and friends making connections and having fun and adventures.  It is going to be a great year in parenting and homeschooling our children toward also being influencers that help others. And in order to do this all of this, one thing has to happen first.

We have to believe that we are more than our past mistakes, or the past we think was foisted upon us that was debilitating and wrong. We have to FORGIVE. Forgive ourselves, forgive our parents and whatever they did or didn’t do, forgive the people that we think wronged us, and move forward.  Forgiving doesn’t mean we condone what that person did or even what we did, but we move forward knowing that now is the time to do better, to let go of bitterness, to overcome layers of shame and anger, and to become what we are called to be and called to be doing. Time by itself doesn’t fix things; as I get older I see people holding on to things that happened in their teens and early 20s and are now in their 50s. This has to be an active process!

There is a confession we make in the Episcopal Church that makes me think of this process:

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

On this second day of Christmas, I  know I have the BEST readers ever!  I really  want to hear from you and how you forgave!   How did you free yourself from “what you have done and what you have left undone?”  Tell me how you threw off layers of despair, depression, anxiety, anger, and rage.  Tell me how you are an influencer in your family or outside your family!

This is going to be a fantastic year!

Many blessings,

Carrie

 

Celebrating Christmastide

Christmastide is almost upon us, and I am looking forward to the twelve days of Christmastide and the wonderful Holy Nights that are the wonderful, introspective times of peering within for moving forward. It’s a beautiful time of year!

Freya Jaffke, in her wonderful book, “Celebrating the Festivals With Children”, writes:

During the twelve or thirteen Holy Nights that follow Christmas, the events of Christmas continue to resonate; and it is a lovely custom for children if candles are lit each day, with singing, music making and perhaps a reading.  This period is set apart from the rest of the year, and can be a time when we gather our strength for the year ahead.  Nothing urgent needs to be done, and we can really take time for things.  Children are deeply satisfied if mother or father sits down beside them with some craftwork, or perhaps join in a game now and then.  In contrast to the summer when we like going outdoors, we feel very comfortable at home in the warmth – apart from winter walks and the fun of snow when it comes.

Here is a small guide toward helping families enjoy each day of Christmastide, and I do so hope you will leave your favorite traditions in the comment box as well!

Monday, December 24th – Since the Feast of the Nativity truly begins on Christmas Eve, attending liturgy is a priority for this night! In the hustle and bustle that can often accompany this day before Christmas, making time for quiet prayer is a powerful example of showing our children that God is with us should we choose to acknowledge Him, find Him, adore Him. God is with us, and with His smallest creatures. In Scandinavian countries, it is traditional to put sheaves of wheat for the birds. Children will enjoy taking time on this day to decorate an outside tree for the birds by stringing popcorn or making the traditional pine cone bird feeder of peanut butter rolled in birdseed.

 

Tuesday, December 25th– Christmas Day, the first of the twelve holy days, is a wonderful time to take an afternoon walk and see God’s creation, and also to read from The Gospel of Saint Luke. Old-fashioned board games are another suggestion for celebrating the Christmas afternoon in family togetherness. Another suggestion that some Christian families have tried with success is to spread gift-giving throughout the twelve days of Christmas so that not every gift is opened on Christmas morning.

 

Wednesday, December 26th The Feast of St. Stephen – Love is the spirit of Christmas. This day is the Feast of Saint Stephen , one of the first deacons of the Church to serve the poor. Perhaps today you and your children could bring small baked treats to your neighbors, or another act of kindness and love for those in your area. Good King Wencelas is also associated with this day; perhaps you know the famous carol about him and there is also a picture book about him called “Wencelas: The Eternal Christmas Story” by Geraldine McCraughrean that children may enjoy.  This is also marked as “Boxing Day” in the UK and other countries, and you can see a full description of that here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_Day

 

Thursday, December 27th– The Feast of St. John –  This is sometimes associated with the blessing of wine.  You can see more about this day here:  http://www.fisheaters.com/customschristmas4.html

 

Friday, December 28th– The Feast of the Holy Innocents. This is a lovely day to let your smallest child be the “King” for the day, and a wonderful day to bless your children with a special ceremony.

 

Saturday, December 29th –  is The Feast of St. Thomas Becket  in the Anglican Church and also in the Roman Catholic Church. You can see more about this feast day here:  http://www.fisheaters.com/customschristmasx.html

 

Sunday, December 30this a very quiet day on the Church calendar; perhaps this is the day to write thank you’s for Christmas gifts and to take another walk or hike to look at God’s beautiful world.

 

Monday, December 31st– this is, of course, New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve actually has no relationship to Christmastide since the beginning of the New Year in the (Western) Christian calendar actually begins with the First Sunday in Advent or September 1st in the Eastern Christian calendar! However, this can be a wonderful day of receiving friends and hospitality. Perhaps you could plan a special party, playdate or tea for your children and their friends on this day!  My favorite activity is listed in the book “All Year Round”.  Those of you who have this book may remember this activity, where small walnut shell halves are filled with beeswax and floated in a tub lined with tin foil and greenery and there can be small “islands” of desires, dreams, wishes for the New Year.  Just lovely!

 

Tuesday, January 1stThe Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus – according to Jewish tradition, this would be the day of the naming and circumcision of Jesus Our Lord and Savior. In English tradition, it is also a day to remember godparents. Children would often visit the home of their godparents to be blessed and receive a gift! Perhaps this is a day your children could talk to their godparents and deepen that relationship.

 

Wednesday, January 2nd – The website Full Homely Divinity, a resource for Anglican parish life, recognizes that the Feast of St. Basil is celebrated on January 1st in the Orthodox Church, so they recommend making the traditional vassilopita on this day, which traditionally has a coin baked into it for one lucky person to find and have good luck in the new year. Here is a recipe: http://www.lerios.org/recipes/vassilopita.php

 

Thursday, January 3rd– Today is a wonderful day to again gather friends and family and hike, play board games and sing Christmas carols! What carols does everyone know in your family?

 

Friday, January 4thThis is a day to read Christmas books; there are several by Tomie dePaola that are exceptionally good!

 

Saturday , January 5th– Twelfth Night, the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas and marking the transition to the beginning of the season of Epiphany! We often recognize not only the gifts brought by the Wise Men on this day in the Western Church, but also the Baptism of Jesus and the significance of water, but also the first miracle of Jesus performed when he changed water into wine.

Bonfires of the Christmas greenery and Twelfth Night Cakes are typical on this day; perhaps this would be a good day to sing the carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas”!  Many times a special cake is baked; a Twelfth Night Cake!

 

Sunday, January 6th – The Feast of Epiphany –Epiphany is a festival of The Baptism of Jesus in the Orthodox Church and called Theophany; in the Western Church we often call it “Three Kings Day” and mark the Wise Men. The night before Three Kings Day is Twelfth Night, and is a time of joy and festivity marked in many different ways in different countries . In Scandinavia, “Star Singers” move from house to house, led by a large and festive star on a stick and in Russia, children are putting out shoes for Babouschka and waiting for gifts. Italian children are waiting for Old Befana and gifts as well. There are many wonderful traditions from other countries to explore; in many countries Epiphany and not Christmas is the main time of gift giving!

There is a traditional house blessing often done on this day that acknowledges the Three Kings, and the eating of a King’s Cake is traditional. You can find details about this under the Epiphany tab on the Full Homely Divinity website.  I also have past posts about Epiphany on this blog.

For those of  you interested in the idea of the Holy Nights as elucidated by Rudolf Steiner, there is much to say, and I am by far not an expert on Steiner’s indications for the Twelve Holy Nights.  I refer you to this document about the Holy Nights as a good source often shared in anthroposophic communities.

Blessings and love,

Carrie