Does your teen make a plan with you and then ditch you for her friends?
Does your teen say hurtful things to you?
Does your teen squirm away when you try to be physically affectionate?
Even the nicest teens say mean things.
True story: I remember looking at a photo of my Mom when she was a young woman wearing plaid bellbottoms, and I said, “Did you actually think you looked GOOD back then?” Ouch! Sorry Mom.
When you’re constantly looking for ways to connect with your teen and they’re finding ways to separate themselves from you, it can be exhausting. The rejection can quickly build up into resentment between you and your teen. You resent their attitude, and they resent feeling guilty for choosing their friends.
(By the way, they’re SUPPOSED to be separating themselves from you, this is part of how they gain their independence. AND, they’re not very delicate in how they handle other’s emotions, which is why you frequently feel the sting of rejection from your teen).
I know that even though it hurts, you LOVE your teen, and you’d do anything for them.
Then do this one thing for them: stop expecting your teen to fill your emotional needs.
Hear me out:
When our kids are little, it’s so easy to love them, because they love us back to easily with “I love you Mommy” and “You’re the best Mom ever!” and their spontaneous hugs. All of those moments fill us up, and we come to expect them from our kids.
But as our sweet elementary school kids become adolescents, they push us away, choose their friends first, and look at their phone and laugh at a text, then look up and scowl at us.
They used to make us feel loved and cherished and now they make us feel rejected and unwanted.
You know you can’t rely on your teen to meet your emotional needs. That’s not their responsibility (and expecting it just sets you up for heartbreak).
You might not have even realised that this is what’s been happening, and that’s ok!
Now that you know, you can make a different choice.
This is YOUR opportunity to re-calculate your relationship to LOVE.
This is YOUR opportunity to lean in to your own hurt and fill those wounds with love.
Why? Because when you know how to invite love into your life you’ll be loving your teen from the overflow. This is the only sustainable model for love. Wholehearted love. Not the kind that has hooks in it, the hooks of you needing them to say “I love you” back. But the kind of love that you can freely give them, even when they’re unkind and unresponsive, without expectation of them returning your affection. This is YOUR opportunity to show your teen how sustainable, healthy adult love FEELS.
When you know how to invite love into your own life, you’ll be able to teach your kids how to invite love into their own life. Having this skill will protect your teen from looking for love in unhealthy relationships, or unhealthy habits like disordered eating, smoking, drinking, drug use, and engaging in risky behaviour.
Who knew that pouring love into yourself would have such incredible protective benefits for your teen!
I know a savvy Mom of three teenagers who missed those sweet baby cuddles, so she volunteers once a week cuddling infants for families of multiples (twins or triplets) who need an extra set of hands. What a wonderful way to get in some cuddles and also help another family!
Invite LOVE into your life. Invite LOVE into your body, mind, and spirit. This is not a selfish act, this is one of the BEST ways to show love to your teen.
I’ve used Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages as a framework to give you strategies that you can start using TODAY! If you’re most hurt by your teen’s mean comments, start by inviting love in with words of affirmation. If you’re hurt by your teen’s rejection when you want to spend time with them, invite love in by spending quality time with yourself.
Words of Affirmation: Speak lovingly to yourself!
- Write yourself a love letter
- Write a list of positive affirmations each day (for example: I am a powerful leader. I am a compassionate listener, etc.)
- Create a scrapbook of your accomplishments
- Have you saved old cards, or job references where others have said great things about you? Read them over! Make a scrapbook, or a beautiful box of good feels.
Acts of Service: Give AND receive
- Volunteer with a cause that makes you feel really good about how you’re spending your time
- Say yes the next time someone offers to help you (even if it’s something you COULD do yourself)
- Implement a plan that will make one part of your life a little bit easier- order in once a week, get someone to pick up the dry cleaning, ask your partner to cook one meal a week
Receiving Gifts: YOU know what you really want!
- Make yourself a love hamper- fill a pretty box with your favourite things: A scented candle, your favourite tea, a good book, a cozy pair of pj’s. Set a date for when you’ll enjoy a night to yourself.
- Give yourself permission to replace one small thing in your home each month: worn out cookie sheets, new hand towels
- Buy yourself flowers without needing an occasion
- Order a new book online, and promise yourself that you’ll spend an hour reading it the day it arrives- make it a spontaneous party!
Quality Time: What really nourishes your soul?
- Schedule in time each week doing something you love: meditating, singing in a choir, writing yourself a love letter, praying with others, creating something new
- Sign up for a class- knitting, Zumba, yoga, painting
- Schedule in a long-overdue get-together with friends. (Even if it’s a Skype call!)
- See an energy healer
Physical Touch: Love your physical body! (Not just the surfaces, allow the love to sink all the way through to your core)
- Book a massage
- Lovingly apply body lotion as you give thanks for each part of your body
- Give yourself a 10 second hug every morning
- Give yourself a foot rub and give thanks for all the things you’re able to do because of your feet.
The important thing here is to get creative, and remember that YOU are inviting love into your life. Remember the airline safety message to “put on your own oxygen mask first”? When you invite love into your life, you’ll have MORE love to share with your family. If you’re giving to your family when yo’re half full you’ll feel depleted and resentful. The truth is, your family will FEEL the resentment and not your love.
LOVE YOURSELF FIRST
Don’t read this as “only love yourself”, just LOVE YOURSELF FIRST. When you are loving yourself, you are inviting God into your body, mind, and spirit. (If God isn’t the word you’re most comfortable with, invite in The Divine, collective consciousness, Source, Spirit, Life Force Energy, Chi). When you’re inviting love in, you’re inviting in your best self, your highest self, your God self, and you have access to all the resources that you need. This is sustainable living. This is wholehearted living. This is loving from a full cup.
Invite LOVE in. Every day.
Coming up next… How to love your teen so they FEEL it.