10 Ways to Keep Up with Your Teen
Teen

Sometimes it’s all you can do to keep up with life. To keep up with your teen can seem daunting.

Your relationship with your teen can make or break your teen’s experience and relationships with peers, friends, school, and family. Research shows that connection with family is the #1 preventive factor in substance abuse, addiction, pregnancy, and school failure throughout the teen years.

Connection means that when faced with a dilemma or decision, your teen will first think what would my parents say? instead of what would my friends say? Connection does not guarantee smart decision-making—your teen is in the developmental risk taking years—but it puts you first and foremost in your teen’s mind. If your teen fears punishment, thinks you will not understand, knows she can’t talk to you, she will turn to her friends for the support and understanding she needs.

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Defiant Child or Full of Integrity?
Defiant child

When your child misbehaves, do you see a defiant child or a child who is trying desperately to get it right? Your perception makes the difference.

Typically we see these children as stubborn, bull-headed, bossy, defiant, rude—a problem.

The parents I hear from most have children like my daughter. These children won’t take no for an answer and will not be told what to do. A defiant child is how I saw my daughter. They will stand their ground for as long as it takes to get someone to understand that they are right—in other words, maddening. These are the children who push our buttons. They lead us into reactive territory saying and doing the things we swore we never would. They cause us to drop exhausted and frustrated into bed every night worrying about the hopelessness of their futures. This is because of the way we perceive them.

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The Story of a Family
Family of two

by Julietta Cerin

This is the best complete description of Connective Parenting I know—all the better because it’s written by a mom who has struggled through the ups and downs and learned its immense value in her relationship with her child—in her family of two. I am grateful to Julietta for her hard work and for writing about it in this moving story. ~ Bonnie

This is a story about a tiny family of two. The mother is devoted to her little boy, considers his care her number one priority. The child, too, adores his mum. And yet the mother presents at parenting courses tearing her hair out at her son’s ‘defiant’, ‘uncooperative’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘destructive’ behaviour. She is bewildered that her son, as she sees it, deliberately breaks the rules in order to make her angry – and he does it so well. She feels that both her own anger and her child’s behaviour are out of control.

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Real Parenting for Real Kids
Real Parents for Real Kids

How many of you began the journey of parenthood even before pregnancy either assuming all will be fine and you will have that sweet, cuddly Gerber baby and be a great parent or going at it with fervor and determination that you will never do to your kids what was done to you—so therefore your children will be happy and loving? And you certainly won’t have kids like the ones you see acting out in the supermarket.

Most moms fit somewhere in this picture of hopes and expectations and end up finding themselves in very foreign territory. I certainly did. My first child allowed me to hold up the banner of “best mother in the world”. He was a peace of cake. It was my second child, my daughter who pulled me up short and turned, no snapped, my head around, but only after many years of power struggles and feeling like a terrible mother.
For Melissa Hood, my friend and colleague, it was the same. She too was lulled by an easy first and then… I’ll let her speak for herself. And then we’re going to give away one of her new books, Real Parenting, for Real Kids, hot off the British press.

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Roosters Need Understanding Too
Roosters need understanding

I saw an exhibit of Art Spiegelman’s many years of brilliant comic work at The Jewish Museum in NYC. One comic strip caught my attention as brilliant parenting advice. I share it here.

The comic was Spiegelman’s fairy tale of a Prince who told his father, the King that he thought he was a rooster. His father laughed it off but the Prince kept up his belief. His father, of course getting concerned for his son’s mental health, dismissed and belittled his son’s fantasy. The more the Prince seemed convinced, the more his father rebuked him and the more the prince regressed into his roosterdom until he eventually spent all his time naked under a table crowing.

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To Give In or Let Go: That is the Question
Power Struggles

I was stuck in power struggles with my daughter because I didn’t want to give in. If I did, I feared she would have all the power. She would learn that anytime she wanted her way, she could just dig in until she outlasted me. I couldn’t have that. So I dug in too. Until I understood how “letting go” could change our relationship.

My daughter was a won’t take no for an answer/won’t be told what to do kind of a kid. It’s hard to accept a child like this until you understand it as inborn personality rather than manipulative, oppositional behavior that must be eradicated. But that’s what I tried to do so I couldn’t give in, I couldn’t let her get away with it. As long as I believed I had to train her out of this opposition, I had to maintain control. Anything else felt like giving in.

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Distracted Driving Lessons
Distracted Driver

Do you have a young driver in your family? Or a soon-to-be one?

We all worry about our teens (or soon to be teens even if they’re now only two) as they are about to take the wheels of our cars and get on the road. Distractions are everywhere. Does your teen driver see them? Simply having a cell phone or a friend in the car can be distracting for a teen, who is new to driving and has a yet undeveloped pre-frontal cortex, which makes good snap decisions difficult.

A concerned mom of a teenager and a guest blogger wrote to me with her desire to spread the word about a video game about distracted driving. She found it to be very helpful for her teen driver. She wrote me the following story. Please check out the video game she found so helpful.

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Prevention of Drug Use: Are we looking deep enough?
Drug paraphenalia

Our state of NH is first in the nation in the horrendous heroin epidemic. Our Governor has appointed a “senior director for substance misuse and behavioral health” who is focusing on prevention by proposing “curriculum infusion” in our schools from kindergarten on up. I applaud this efforts highlighting prevention, which is intended to raise children’s awareness of how their bodies work—and don’t work.

However, when I see the word prevention connected to any program dealing with children’s well-being, I am no longer surprised by the blatant neglect of addressing the root of prevention—the family. Whether we are talking about bullying, resilience, school success, drugs and alcohol, high risk behaviors, you name it—the preventative factors begin at home in the parent-child relationship.

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A Connected Relationship with Your Kids
Connected relationship

If you’re thinking about making changes in your relationships with your children, here is an inspirational story from a parent in Australia to get you jump-started. As you can see, it often takes time and effort to get to a truly connected relationship. The work you put in is an investment: in your children’s futures, in your long term relationships, and in your own personal growth—nothing is more worth it.

“I’m nearly two years down the track in being a Connective Parent! I love realising how far I’ve come with it, whilst also acknowledging I’ve got some way to go yet before I would consider myself a “competent” connective parent. I totally agree with you that it’s like learning a complete new language, way of thinking, way of being really… I love the dimmer switch idea; it’s getting brighter and brighter all the time, slowly but surely… with work!! I wanted to share with you what happened this morning.

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In Times of Tragedy…
time of tragedy

The nature of tragedy is that it is out of our control. Ultimately so is just about everything. The nature of parenting is the desire to maintain control. The irony is that in order to best handle times of tragedy and to best maintain influence over our children, we first need to let go of that desire to control.

Instead we tell them what to think and feel, what to say and do. Everything around us tells us that if we do this, take that, wear this and buy that, we will be happy. Rewards and punishments are the way we control and tell them how to be. This method raises our children to focus externally (what will happen to me if…? Or what will I get if…?). They often don’t know how to handle themselves without those external controls. Most of us have lost sight of what we already know — if we could trust ourselves to just listen.

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