It's easy to blame an out-of-control teen. Our parenting experts are sharing an excerpt from their book, The Whipped Parent. Marney Studaker-Cordner and her co-author Kimberly Abraham are social workers who have helped many teens. They'll share advice on how we blame and how to change.
How We Blame Our Teens:
We keep mental tabs on their past wrongs like:
. The temper tantrums when she was young
. The time she stole money from my purse
. The time she set the house on fire from her cigarettes
. The times she stayed out past her curfew
. The times she got drunk when I was out
. The times she's called me the "B-word."
When we think about the mental list, it's easy to feel angry, resentful, and hurt. Our authors tell us that keeping a tab is like a credit card. "You're the one who ends up paying - with lots of interest tacked on." What's even worse, our kids learn to keep tabs on our mistakes too.
When we keep tabs, it's like lifting the back of a chair while our arms and back ache but we won't put it down. Try it and see how long it takes for your arms and back to tire. So how do we stop the credit card or put down the chair?
Marney and Kimberly tell us to accept our child unconditionally by:
1. Forgiving through letting go of the past (Get rid of the credit card.)
2. Loving your child as only a parent can.
3. Telling your child you love her.
4. Avoiding withdrawing yourself and your love from your child.
"Some of the saddest adolescents are those who feel hopeless because they believe their behavior has led to the loss of a parent's love."
If you have trouble feeling unconditional love for your child, "Fake it until you make it," advise our authors. If something happened to your child, you'd want the last words she heard from you to be, "I love you."
One telling question Marney and Kimberly ask is, "If a stranger asked your adolescent, 'Does your parent love you?'" what would she say? (From pages 122-126)
You might respond, "This is tough to do." Our authors would heartily agree. They understand. I appreciate their view on unconditional love. It's important to focus on what is truly important even when we're hurt and angry.
Let's HONOR our authors, Marney and Kimberly, for sharing their knowledge from working with difficult teenagers.
Kimberly Abraham, MSW, CSW
You can order their book The Whipped Parent: Hope for Parents Raising an Out-of-Control Teen
Available at Amazon.com
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