Last week my 14-year old was being just that, a 14-year old. When I’d ask a question, I’d get a grunt or if I was lucky a one word answer. I knew in my heart that it wasn’t about me but as the days wore on and the behavior stayed the same I watched my tolerance expire.
Finally, I just couldn’t take it anymore.
Fortunately, I didn’t lose it in front of her, yell or express my frustration. Instead, I called a friend. “I need help. My daughter won’t talk to me and I’ve reached the end. I don’t think I can take another day of this.”
In our conversation, what ended up emerging wasn’t my daughter’s behavior but rather my response to her behavior. After all, I want to show up and be loving, supportive, kind, empathetic. Don’t you?
Instead I felt frustrated, irritated and annoyed. And that made me feel embarrassed.
What I wanted was to be able to keep riding it, let it wash over me like a wave, knowing that it was just temporary. I wanted to allow her the freedom to be where she was and how she was without being affected by it. But sometimes, in the moment, that’s hard to realize and easy to fall into defeat.
So why did my response bother me?
Underneath my disappointment about not showing up as a loving presence, was the fear that I was being a bad parent AND that behavior would have lasting effects.
Here’s how the unconscious thought went, “because I’m being a bad parent, I’ll never have a good, loving relationship with her.”
Talk about projection! Wow.
Once I got clear about my underlying fear and could satisfactorily let it go, I instantly felt calm, refreshed and no longer annoyed. In fact, I actually forgot that her behavior had been bothering me at all.
And guess what happened?
The next day my daughter was Miss Chatty in the car!
I’m constantly amazed at the truth of this. Every time I let go and shift my behavior, the whole dynamic changes.
So often we feel out of control or feel the need to change someone else or their behavior. But the ultimate lesson is that we can only control us or in my case, me. And when I do, when I own my reactions, face the triggers and release them, I free myself. And then, like magic, everything else changes.
Do you have a teenager? Have you experienced this?
Tell me about your journey in a comment below.
And sign up to join our growing community!