After a tumultuous 24 hours with our oldest, I believe we’ve gotten to the bottom of some of her current issues. She’s the kind of teenager that when they want to dig into their heels, it’s pretty difficult to get them to budge. I couldn’t figure out what exactly was bugging her about us- until we got into the car to go to supper.
We gave her three choices at the time- and she decided that talking about the issue would be much better than the other two choices. It turns out that even though we went away for the weekend to learn more about resources, tools and family with mental disabilities- my daughter felt that we were abandoning her by going away for two days. Then when my wife wanted to discuss other possibilities for her future, she ended up getting in her head the idea that I would kick her out of the house after her 18th birthday.
So once again, rather than clarifying what was said, she took ideas and went off in her mind on a far tangent to believe the worst case scenario. Once we got the fears on the table, it only took about half an hour to assure her that we are her parents and will be there to help in her life no matter what.
I guess I never remember being that stubborn as a teenager about that aspect. My parents would give me expectations, I would follow their rules to the best of my ability, and for the most part I could get what I wanted as long as I was paying for it. I didn’t spend my energy holding grudges for weeks on end. I didn’t punish my family when I was afraid.
This evening her demeanor and personality have come back to her normal happy go lucky self. She’s bouncing around regarding her favorite songs- she even had a great conversation with her little sister, who is handling her own issues currently at a treatment center. She admitted that has a love/ hate relationship with her sister- and that this conflict has been more pronounced every time she returns to a treatment center. I enjoy when she’s more outgoing rather than depressed and insulated.
My wife and I don’t give up easy. If the children think they are tough nuts to crack, well we are even stronger. The commitment remains hard as a rock, and we have to find special ways to get to the bottom of issues. In one sense, we have to remain loving, caring and honest- while at the same time be grounded in the reality of their choices and where it could take their lives.
If you feel like as a parent that your child seems to be stuck in a mood and is having the worst week (or month, or year) ever, close your eyes, do some deep breathing and focus your mind on the great qualities of the child. It could be a special memory, it could be their smile, it could be a passionate embrace they give you- anything at all that takes your head back to why you do what you can for your child. There’s always a way to solve any problem- even if it takes you a while to get to that resolution.