by Shelley Richanbach, Certified Addictions Specialist and Peer Facilitator, Founder of Next Steps for Women
When your teen is missing curfew, talking back, or completely ignoring you, it’s enough to make you want to throw up your arms and call it quits. If you suspect tobacco, alcohol or drug abuse it only adds more anxiety, dread or despair to the “I can’t cope with this anymore feeling”.
It’s a rare parent who can deal with the wild and unpredictable changes at this stage of life. When I was raising my three adolescents, I remember feeling like I was on an emotional roller coaster.
If you have more than one in the house, it can be compared to enduring a ride on the Kingda Ka. Your tweens, teens and young adults can have you up, down, and sideways in seconds.
And, if a partner isn’t buckled in alongside for whatever reason (you’re a single parent or just on completely different tracks about how to handle the gravitational force of this developmental age), it’s as if you’re in a single car on the Wild Mouse without any built-in safety systems.
Parenting teens is not for the squeamish.
For you and your family’s well being you’ve got to keep all your wheels on the tracks.
So how do you hold a constant velocity throughout this harrowing time?
Here are five key wellness concepts that will help you jump off Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and settle in to a seat on the Little Dipper.
First, hold onto HOPE. Just as you can count on the daffodils to pop out in February and the sun to rise every morning, you can take faith that your young people will mature. It’s now proven to take until their mid-twenties but, so what? Chances are they will leave the nest. They want out as much as you’re ready for them to be out.
But if your wheels are about to fly off, allow another family member or good friend to hold hope for you while you find support in the way of a counselor or coach, your church community, a wellness center, 12-step group, (i.e.: Al-Anon) or at a local Community Recovery Organization (RCO).
Second, take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for your parenting. Look at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Ask: what is my part in the issue at hand? How am I acting or am I reacting? Acknowledge your part in the situation du jour. Become aware and try to build “response ability.” It’s okay to give your self a “time out” to assess what’s really going on.
The third key is EDUCATION. Find out as much as you can about the challenges your kids are facing. Get more information about their teachers, friends, their friends’ parents, parties, hangouts, technology, and up-to-date info about alcohol, street and prescription drugs.
Who knew there would be a party drug called Bath Salts? “Hey Mom, I’m off to Walgreens for some bath salts…see ya later.”
Find out what other parents are doing. Align with those who hold similar values. Make time for the Parent Teacher Associations/Organizations’ educational forums. Enroll in parenting your adolescent classes.
It can feel overwhelming but don’t make the same mistake I made by shrugging and hoping everything will be fine; I trusted the schools, other parents and that my kids were smart—that they’d figure it out. I was wrong. Believe me, we’re on a new fangled roller coaster in a whole new class of amusement park.
Fourth--SELF ADVOCATE. Are you staying on top of your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing? To be feeling your best, you must take what you need in the way of healthy food, a good night’s rest and exercise along with using stress-reducing tools (meditation, yoga, journaling, a walk in nature) and have hobbies and creative outlets. These are your wellness tools. Do you need to take a parenting class and your partner says you don’t need it? You know best. Advocate for your self.
Get SUPPORT. This is probably the most important key to your wellness. Why oh why do we imagine that we don’t need help? What’s wrong with surrendering? It’s okay to lean into a community and connect with others who are also on the Wild Ride. Find out how much we are the same and not so different at all. Finding out that you’re not alone can be a huge relief.
When you feel like you’ve had enough of the tight turns and steep slopes, (exhausted, talked out, and stressed out) check to see which of the 5 key concepts to your wellness needs assessing.
Tell us about one of the key concepts that is currently working in your life this week.
Shelley Richanbach is one of three Bay Area moms writing Parent to Parent ~ a blog sharing concerns about substance abuse. Lisa Frederiksen, Author Speaker Consultant and Founder of BreakingTheCycles.com and Shelley Richanbach, Certified Addictions Specialist, Peer Facilitator and Founder of Next Steps for Women, round out the Parent to Parent team. Check back every Wednesday as one of these moms will share their expertise and personal experiences with substance use, abuse, addiction and recovery. And if you find yourself in any one of their stories, consider attending their March 3, 2013, Substance Abuse Workshop for Parents.