How to connect and draw teenagers closer
We were packing up the car to leave on a long journey, well a four hour one and to us Brits that is a long journey! The boys, my two youngest sons, about thirteen and sixteen at the time, climbed in the back. Eden, the youngest, on his hand held gaming console and Hal listening to music on his mp3 player with earphones and still the music loud enough for me to hear! There was the usual bit of bickering or banter going on between them and I threw my handbag, phone, some c.d.s on the front passenger seat as I got in the driver’s side along with a bag with some food in, water to drink, checked for glasses and set off. It was the way we often travelled, each of us engrossed in our own activity, me concentrating on driving, the radio on. Boys in the back lost in their own world, no interaction really, very much separated. Then suddenly, a loud bang, the car started to feel weird, the steering wheel, shuddering, I was not in control and being in the outside lane hit the barrier. I struggled to straighten up and steer the car across the other three lanes to the hard shoulder. It brought me to a much higher level of alertness and I had to dig deep to find some resolve to get that car and us to safety. It was a scary experience, I had had a blowout. The boys in the back were quite scared and didn’t know what had happened, shouting and asking what was going on. When the car stopped I was beyond relieved and shaking. I checked the boys were alright, reassured them and called for road side assistance. Knowing it was advisable on a motorway to get out of the car and sit on the grass embankment away from the traffic. I took the car blanket out and we all huddled together on the side with the blanket around our shoulders. No hand held games console, or mp3 player with music blaring out, or thought of phones, c.d.s, or anything else. Just together, grateful with a renewed sense of priority. As we sat there, me in the middle, arms around both my boys in silence, I thought how grateful I was we were all safe and it brought home to me how precious they were and how quickly things can change. I thought about what really mattered and how easy it was and how often I did complain about them or what they’d done. I thought about how I didn’t tell them often enough how much I loved them, about not giving them quality time when they asked a question because I was too involved in something else. I thought about being too impatient with them, criticizing too often, expecting more of them. It was a wakeup call and changed things. In that time, huddled close together, waiting for help, we were all very present and in the moment. In the silence that time gave me the opportunity to realize how much I loved and admired them as individuals. I vowed I would remember how I felt and I have.
Being present for teens can be challenging! It’s often tempting and easy to fly off the handle and say the first thing that comes into your head, without considering and thinking it through. When we think about what we want to achieve in a situation, it’s worth taking that deep breath first and choosing our words carefully. Bite your lip and think before you speak so you can respond not react. Be present with them or for them when they are asking questions. Eye contact helps. Listen to them, attentively, give consideration to what they are saying or asking. If they are asking a question that you need time to think about say so, be honest.
What’s magic about being present and in the Now, is that you can do it with them and they don’t know you’re doing it and yet it still has an impact! I often sit in the same room as my boys, perhaps the kitchen and watch them interacting, or eating and silently send out love and positive thoughts and because thought has a vibration, a frequency, I know I’m emitting high level good vibrations that have an impact on them. I’ve done the same with the young people I’ve provided supported lodging for who have had troubled backgrounds and I know this, along with other support has made a huge difference. Too often our teenagers are dismissed, with adults not having time now, when they want to tell you something, or are ridiculed for having a certain idea, or told, that’ll never work, you can’t do that, whatever it is, instead of engaging and taking that considered approach. If it’s not possible to talk then, let them know it is important to you and schedule another time in.
Thoughts matter, or thought matters whichever way you say it, it has an effect on us and our environment and anyone in it, our thoughts effect our vibration the electromagnetic field that travels out and affects others, if we’re in a bad mood and our vibration is low it’s picked up, in a good mood it’s high and that can be felt. You hear people say the vibes in here are great or you can cut the atmosphere with a knife. I practice sending out the positive vibes when teens are about, in the silence, a positive affect is being had when you come from a place of love, understanding and acceptance, no need for words.
There’s a practice called Ho’oponopono that I read about a few years ago. A Hawaiian therapist called Dr Ihaleakala Hew Len worked with the criminally insane and after a few months the improvements in the institution where he worked were very noticeable. He never saw the inmates, he just worked with their files and with these in front of him and in his mind he would say over and over again “I’m sorry, Please forgive, me, thank you and I love you” … the power of thought! There’s more fascinating information you can find at http://www.mrfire.com/zero/
I adopted this practice too, whenever it popped into my head to do it, I’d say it over and over as I waved a son off to college and watched him disappear out of sight, while I was ferrying one from one place to another, or sitting with them somewhere. This along with my positive thoughts and being present has had an incredible impact!
Being present is beneficial for us too, as well as for the teens in our lives, we can get so bogged down with all the things we have to do and miss life as it’s happening. We often have ‘to do’ lists, make a ‘to be’ list instead; we are human beings not human doings. Make that list of what you will be; Accepting, caring, compassionate, thoughtful, tolerant, patient, happy … anything you want to be. Set a good example and let’s be the change we wish to see. :o)