Question: I’m worried about my 14-year-old son. He is putting himself into situations that aren’t the best and being very nasty in his tone with me and his dad. He’s fine with the rest of the world but not us. What should I do?
Answer 1 by 14YO, Kaci:
I think that young teenagers put themselves in situations like this to prove something, whether to themselves or other people. They want to prove that they are independent and grown up, or even cool. They think that doing things that are unsafe will make them seem cooler, even though it wont. Maybe he’s feeling pressured by his friends to do these things, or he could just be coming up with things on his own to feel older. I know from experience that 14 is a tricky age, you’re rapidly growing up, yet still feel like a kid, so this might just be a phase he is going through while trying to find himself.
A2 by Julie:
This dynamic shows up frequently with kids as they are continuing to establish their identity and separate from parents. As much posturing as boys do, they often feel at a loss of what they should be doing, often powerless to what their life looks / feels like. This, in turn, causes them to rebel or disconnect. There’s a good article on the Psychology Today website that address this: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/anger-in-the-age-entitlement/201306/parenting-teenage-boys. Boys – girls too – struggle with identity development at this age. They want so much to be their own person – separate from mom and dad – but they really don’t know who that person is. As parents, we often see the situation through adult / parent eyes and we fail to see the flipside. Taking that time to put yourself in your son’s shoes can be extremely insightful in terms of figuring out his needs. Once your do that, find a time when he is relaxed and open to discussion to explore what could be going on. Make yourself available to your son. Let him know that you have noticed that his choices have been putting him in risky situations and you are worried. Ask him what’s going on. Share how it is affecting you. Do not blame, put down or yell. Those actions will only cause him to shut down and tune you out. Rather, show compassion. Speak from the heart. Use your I-statemens while also letting him know there will be consequences, both natural and parent-imposed, for putting himself at risk. Be patient both in that moment of connection and with him. He needs your love as much as he needs space to discover who he is and what he stands for.
Do you have a question for our Flipside of Parenting youth advisory board and team? If so, email it to FoP@juliesmith.com.
I love, love, love me some Apple wisdom. This is a great message for kids to realize that it’s okay not to follow the crowd. It’s okay to be one of the crazy ones. Pass it on.Read More...
I always wanted to be a writer. I can recall my first book, The Fat Cat, which I wrote at the tender age of six. It was destined to be a best-seller with its engaging character and non-stop action (the frisky cat ate and ate until he blew up and then he was skinny again.) This eight-page thriller was designed with finest construction paper and illustrated with only the sharpest Crayolas. I remember painstakingly using my mom’s ball of yarn to weave the spine of the book together. I loved that book. Finishing it was intoxicating. After the completion of that book, I explored my creative side by writing a play called The Four Girls. It was a short play of four friends who sat around a table talking about all the kids at school. Had I developed it 20 years later, it could’ve been the next “Friends.”
Then I delved into my sensitive side by writing poetry and haiku. My biggest fan, my mom, took one of those poems and turned it into a Christmas ornament for our extended family. Since that time, I have written countless articles, blog posts, ebooks, guidebooks and more — my first book was even published in 2005. However, I stopped writing as much over the past few years. Somewhere along the way, I had lost the zest for putting pen to paper or fingers to keypad. I realized recently, though, that when I lost the pen and paper, I also lost a piece of myself.
Last night, despite the resistance I felt, I picked up the pen again. As I moved it across the paper, I realized that I need writing. It’s my craft, my outlet. It is how I communicate with you, the reader, as well as with myself. It’s my voice of reason, of clarity, of whimsy. It simultaneously holds me together and lets me go. It offers me clarity in confusing times and wisdom in anxiety-laden moments. Writing is the best way I can navigate through the ups and downs of life; it’s my guidepost. Writing is who I am.
What about you? What creative outlet makes you who you are?
One of the most important gifts my parents gave to me was instilling the value of traditions in me as a child. As a parent I strive to offer my children that same gift. From cherished holiday moments such as decorating Christmas cookies and lighting the menorah to simple rituals like reading a bedtime story or sharing dinnertime, traditions create a sense of belonging and comfort to families.
Traditions are simple family events and rituals that we repeat over and over again. They bring together the senses of sight, touch, smell, taste and sound, and they put a special “branding” on our family. Traditions help us establish our family identity and allow us to create a family legacy that carries across the generations. They provide favorable opportunities to teach values to our children. The benefits are countless, but the bottom line is that traditions allow us to celebrate family, love and life!
Holidays are a great time to create new customs and renew old ones, but traditions can also be started and enjoyed year-round. Many of our daily routines that we take for granted, like a weekly game night or taking a evening walk around the block, are already traditions in disguise. My family regularly enjoys Monday Meatloaf Madness and Friday Night Movies. To get started, incorporate the old with the new to make your distinct mark on a celebration or routine. Be sure to get input from the entire family. Take a few moments to think about what was memorable to you as a child and what is valued to you and your family now. Creating traditions is about comfort, familiarity and fun, so axe any that make you feel overwhelmed or unpleasant. If spending the caroling leaves you in a cold sweat, then opt for something like baking cookies with your children or sipping hot cocoa by the fireplace.
Stumped for ideas? Some of the best traditions are born out of simplicity. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Let your children routinely help you make dinner. You may even come up with your own family recipe.
- Start a movie night. Once a month, pop in one of your own home movies to see how your family has changed throughout the years. Children especially love to see themselves on the television!
- Have your children make and distribute cards for the residents of assisted living and convalescent centers, not just at the holidays, but throughout the year.
- Host a neighborhood holiday brunch and have the kids exchange homemade gifts
- Buy a white or light colored table cloth to use at family or holiday dinners. Each time you meet, have your guests write a message with a fabric marker. This is a wonderful way to remember holiday dinners!
- Start a “Good Deeds Box.” Place paper, pen and a small box (or have your children decorate a shoe box) in an easily located area. Each time your family witnesses a good deed from another family member, have them write it down and place it in the box. Once a week (or whatever works for you) over dinner or dessert, spend an evening reading through the notes. This is a great way to teach, reinforce, and praise selflessness!
- Celebrate half birthdays and bake half a cake!
Once you’ve decided on a tradition, remember to include all the family members in the planning and preparation. Relish the togetherness and reap the rewards of working together as a collective unit. Traditions do not need to be a heavy burden on your wallet or take days of preparation. Simply enjoy the moment for what it is and what it offers your family.
Traditions are more than just the passing of cultural elements from generation to generation. They are the foundation for happy, caring families. Traditions, both simple and extravagant, not only enrich our time with our children, but also bring a sense of unity among family members. So take a minute to create a gift that lasts a lifetime.
I am an action flick gal. I have seen every James Bond movie – at least three times. I was first in line to see Transformers (the first one, not the last one), and I never miss a superhero adventure. So, when the topic of missions comes up, it is no surprise that the first thing that pops in my mind is the theme song from them former television show and mainstream movie, Mission: Impossible.
Ethan Hunt, the main character in M:I, had a mission. Jake and Elwood Blues had one as well (please, tell me you’ve seen Blues Brothers; if not, go rent it); and so do I. Whether it’s a top-secret mission, one from God or one from within, a mission declares what you would like your life to look. It directs your life and asserts your purpose. It answers questions, such as: How do we choose to live our life? What values support us? What are our priorities?
So, your, well, mission – should you choose to accept it – is to identify and craft your own family mission statement. Whether you are a family of two or twenty, a mission statement provides everyone a say in how the family goes and grows in life as an individuals and as a team.
So, here are seven steps to get you started on creating your family mission:
Establish your personal mission. Consider the current status of your life, values, priorities, goals, education, professional pursuits, leisure activities and roles you enjoy on a regular basis. Get specific! (If you haven’t done a Life Perspective Plan, you get one at juliesmith.com.) Encourage your spouse, life partner, and/or older children to determine their personal mission as well.
Gather all the family members for a family meeting. Be sure to include anyone that lives in the same house: younger children, children who live/visit on a part-time basis and even grandparents who may live in the home. Explain that you will all be contributing to the creation of a mission statement. Let your family know that a mission is NOT a list of rules, requirements or punishments; rather, it is a roadmap for the family’s journey through life.
Characterize your family by asking each family member list adjectives that describe your family. For example, our family describes itself as loving, quirky, authentic, funny, kind, creative and smart. (Be sure everyone contributes.) As each word is shared, list it on a white board for all to see. Additionally, ask family members to listen without judgment as each person’s shares his or her dreams, goals, priorities, and if completed, personal mission. These contributions start to lay the foundation of what your family mission will encompass.
Brainstorm ideas to include in your family mission statement. Ask each person to contribute ideas. (Remember to do this without censorship as this is a brainstorming session.) Prompt ideas with questions such as: “What goals do we have as a family?” “If there was a definition of us in the dictionary, what would it say?” “If a stranger met us, what would they think of our interactions together?” “What inside jokes does our family share?” “What traits do we admire?” “What do we find unacceptable?” “If we were honored at an award show, what award would we win?”
Craft your mission by forming the ideas in sentences. Once you have composed your sentences into a statement, edit it until everyone is agreement with both the words and the sentiment. Hone An example may be, “The Smiths live authentically and judgment-free. We strive for continued growth, knowledge and new experiences. We are not defined by one trait or thought; rather, we are motivated by our qualities: quirky, creative, intellect, kind, honest and fun. Collectively and individually, we create the life we want.”
Refine your mission into a short motto. A motto is one sentence that summarizes your family’s mission. Depending on your family, you may choose to write it in code, rhyme or verse. Some families create a catchy, humorous affirmation as their motto. The key is to make it easy to remember and touch on at lest a few of the points in your mission. My family’s motto is “The Smiths are true to their best selves.” It also could be funny or in code, as long as your family knows what it means and represents.
Print out your motto and family mission statement, and ask everyone sign and date it. Post both mission and motto in a variety of prominent places in your home and business. Start creating habits and objectives that support your mission. As decisions are made both at home and business, tie them back to your family mission to ensure alignment in both areas for ultimate success.Read More...