06 Nov Life Lessons From Teenage Girls
Recently, I took a road trip with my 14- and 16-year-old daughters. It was an eight-hour drive, so on our way home I decided to take advantage of that quality time to have a much-needed conversation. After the conversation, it occurred to me that everything we teach at High5 Leadership is always a practice, and I got to practice some really valuable lessons.
Over the last year, I’ve been getting some messages from my daughters that indicate they believe they aren’t getting the full Mom experience from me. Some of those messages come in the form of loud words saying hurtful things. Obviously, that’s the nature of teenagers to a certain extent. However, these weren’t usual things. So, on the drive, I asked them where all of that was coming from.
If you’re going to ask the question, be prepared for the answer.
At High5 we subscribe to the Platinum Rule, which says to treat people as THEY want to be treated, which is different from the Golden Rule (treat others as YOU want to be treated). To that end, all of us should know what others need from us. Let me state, unequivocally, if you are going to ask what people need from you, you must be prepared for the answer AND you must be willing to follow through on that answer or explain why you can’t.
The girls told me they needed me to be more physically available. Although, I believe I’m always emotionally available, they don’t need that from me most of the time. Let’s face it. Most teenagers aren’t hip to deep conversations with their parents. They need me to simply be here in the house where they can lay eyes on me and feel my physical presence. As a kid, my mom was often unavailable in every sense of the word, so I was being the mom to them that I needed when I was their age. It’s unfair to all of us because there are unknown, thus unmet, expectations and no one benefits.
There is always a gift.
Honestly, I didn’t like a lot of what I heard during this conversation. It caused me pain to know that I had caused them pain even though it was unintentional. In my gut, I wanted to be defensive and shout about how they don’t give me credit for the things I DO do. However, when I stopped listening to that noise, and truly listened to them, I realized I was getting a gift. My daughters were talking to me openly about their feelings and needs, which hasn’t happened for a long time. They were giving me the answers to the test. I now know how to be a better parent for them, and I am grateful on all of our behalfs.
What we think about we bring about.
Since I became a mother, I was focused on NOT being the kind of mother mine was. Don’t get me wrong. My mom was a great human, and I loved her deeply. We just didn’t mesh well on the emotional scale, and as I said earlier, she was unavailable, in one way or another, for most of my childhood. I just knew I didn’t want that for my children. My kids were never going to have all those feelings of loneliness and the stress of doing for themselves from a young age. That’s what I thought. Do you see a pattern?
Those things were all based in what I didn’t want for my kids, so that’s where my focus was. Guess what my kids got. They got everything I was focused on. They got a mom like mine. If we consistently focus on what we don’t want, then that’s what we get. What we think about we bring about. Now, my focus is on being physically available for them as well as emotionally (should they ever want that). I’m focused on hearing their needs instead of projecting my own. In short, I’m focused on them.
Parenting isn’t easy. Frankly, relationships, in general, are challenging at times, especially if our outcome is them being beneficial for all involved. However, if we ask and engage, look for the gift EVERY time and focus on a positive outcome, we can all get what we need. ~Michelle Fink