When I was young my little sister, Ann, threw some fantastic tantrums. When she was two or three years old she’d get down on the floor and bang her hands and feet crying, “Mommy, Daddy, Mommy, Daddy.”
We knew she was angry, and we didn’t belittle her, but we all thought it was kind of cute. In fact, when I think of her at that age getting all red in the face with anger, I still want to run over and give her a squeeze.
So Why Does It Stop Being Cute When They Get To Be Teenagers?
Ask any parent and they’ll roll their eyes. Teenagers can be monsters. They don’t just settle for a little tantrum, they go for blood.
Not only do your teenagers show you disrespect, they make it personal. They know your weak spots, and they deliberately use them to bring you down.
This Makes You Feel Frustrated And Humiliated
Frustrated because you can’t control them. The more you try to correct their behavior, the more rebellious they become. And it makes you frustrated because you can’t talk to them. They’re simply not open for discussion. They see you as the enemy. That’s final, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
And it makes you feel humiliated because they land some pretty decent punches. Punches that can make you lose your confidence and your authority.
This unsettled state of affairs can make you miserable. It can make you pull your hair. And it can keep you up at night.
So How Can You Make Peace With Your Teenage Children?
One tool that can help is called The Work of Byron Katie, or The Work for short. It’s a simple process of writing down your stressful thoughts and questioning them.
When you write down exactly what is bugging you about your children and question these stressful thoughts, you start to see a different point of view. You start to see that your happiness depends on you, not them.
But My Children Are Downright Mean
This may well be true. Some teenage children can be really mean. And The Work is not a way to change them.
The Work is a way to find peace even in the most stressful situations. You’re children may keep attacking you with full force for years, but can you be happy? This is the only question that concerns us here.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t discipline your kids. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stand up for yourself. These are your decisions as a parent and a human being. But in all this can you be happy? The Work is a way to find happiness, even in the worst of times.
How Does The Work Accomplish This?
The Work helps you find peace of mind in a war zone by looking a little closer at the situation. When you do The Work, you may just find that it’s not the situation but what you’re believing about the situation that’s causing all your stress.
For example, you may believe that your kids should show respect. And when they don’t you get furious.
The Work is a way to question a belief like, “They should show respect.” The Work asks, “Can you absolutely know it’s true that they should show respect?”
This Question Makes You Pause And Think About It For Second
And when you do, you may find a lot of reasons why, in reality, they shouldn’t show respect. The Work is personal, your answers will be different than mine. But here are a few examples.
They shouldn’t show respect because they are trying to exert their own independence.
They shouldn’t show respect because they don’t yet know how to stand up for themselves without using anger.
They shouldn’t show respect because I confuse them with inconsistent rules.
They shouldn’t show respect because I don’t respect them either.
And the list can go on.
The Purpose Of This Is Not To Make Them Right
The purpose is simply to understand better where they’re coming from. The Work nurtures compassion. And it calms the sense of frustration that you have.
The purpose of The Work is for you to find your own peace, even when you’re on the battlefield. Anything that your kids say or do that makes you feel stressed is an opportunity to do The Work. When you look at it this way, you can become very grateful for the challenge.
So there’s another reason why they shouldn’t show respect. They shouldn’t show respect because they challenge me to keep my peace.
If you’re open to it, The Work can help you find your peace every time your children make you mad. And if you keep doing The Work on these stressful situations, you may find that your children’s antics become less capable of making you upset.
This Is Freedom
This is a gift your children are offering you. They give you a chance to practice. If you can learn how to be happy in this situation, you’ll be miles ahead when others start to push your buttons outside of home as well.
You may even start to find that your teenage children’s tantrums seem kind of cute. And while you’d probably never want to show it, secretly you might want to run over and give them a big squeeze when they’re attacking you.
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