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FREEEEDOM! is the Teen Dream

There are few images, role models and conversations out there that show teenagers getting on well with their parent. I seem to hear everywhere I go that our children’s teenage year are the worst for us as parents. Many years before my daughter was a teen I was warned that I had to watch out because I would go through hell with my teenager, that this would be the worst years of my life as a parent, and what I say to that is what a load of rubbish! In fact it can be the best years of our child rearing life!

So what I have discovered is, there are not too many people out there who know how to communicate with their teen children.

I Adore watching my daughter enjoy her teenage years. I remember well what is was like to be a teenager. Scary, exciting, full of hope wishes and desires for the future. Lots and lots of desires! Boys, bodies, hair do’s and don’ts, fashion, music, stuff, lots and Lots of stuff, I wanted it all. It was a vital, scary and exciting time. For the fist time in my life I was thinking about “who am I, what do I want others to see in me. What do I need to do to make others like me? And how am I going to present myself to the outside world?” As children we do not ask these questions as much, instead we are happy to look for more things that are fun to do. But teenagers have so many questions and most of them are about their image or their abilities.

I remember the day I dropped my daughter off at school on the first day of her high school years. I stayed in the car for a while after she left remembering my teenaged years, and a thrill of excitement coupled with a tinge of fear swept through me. How much life was out there to discover, explore and play with? How thrilling it all was then, although I felt apprehensive about how I would be judged by my peers and wracked with self doubt and insecurities, being a teenager was still very exciting to me and I enjoyed it to the max.

My teen years were a time of great change and rebellion. My mother was sick with cancer and my father was having problems with his second marriage and took his rage out on his children. So I used to run away from home regularly, sometime living at the local park when I was too afraid to stay at a friends house for fear I would be discovered.

What was it I wanted most when I was young? This is the question as parents we need to remind ourselves.

For me it was independence. I wanted to rule my own life and I wanted my parents, or the people who had authority over me, to respect the fact that even though I was young and I would make mistakes I knew what I wanted, and they would encourage me and support my desires.

But this is not what I experienced. Like most teens today, I was told I was irresponsible, too young to know what was best for me and I didn’t have the life experience I needed to make my own decisions about how I was to behave. I was told what to do and how to live my life and I hated it. I rebelled at every command.

School was not a place where I found my passions, so I looked to other people and places seeking to find a space where I felt I belonged. Were I would fit in and be accepted for who I was. Like most teens today alcohol, smoking and drugs were on the agenda and I indulged in all of them. Of course the authority figures in my life did not approve and I was told it was not allowed to see the people who had lead me astray, so I hid my adventures from them.

My mother was sick with cancer at the time but still she smoked. She was a social smoker, it was only when we had company that I remember her smoking a lot. I was worried for her. I said to her that if she did not give up smoking that I would start. All my friend were smoking at the time and I remember trying it and thinking it was the most horrific thing I had ever tried, but even though I didn’t like it, I wanted to bribe my mother. I wanted my mothers care for me to inspire love for herself and to stop this habit that was not helping her get better. So I started smoking in the hope she would stop. It didn’t work, and now I had this bad habit that I thought was cool. After all most people smoked in those days.

Her health declined and when I was sixteen she left this beautiful planet to enjoy new adventure in another place. Dad on the other hand was busy with a new wife and was not interested in looking after me.

I had my freedom! I was sixteen and the independence that I so desperately wanted was now mine. I could be and do anything I wanted and no one was going to tell me what to do any more. I was out there on the leading edge with only myself to blame if I got into trouble. I thought to myself; “I better choose wisely if I was going to live a life of happiness, as there wasn’t anyone to pick up the pieces.”

At this stage I started to think about my future. What would happen to me, where would I go and who would look after me. Until then, the conversation in my head was only one of rebellion and seeking more naughty things to try, but when no one was there to tell me not to do it, I stopped and thought about my behaviour and the consequences for the first time in my life. I was the only one who was going to look after my welfare now, so I better clean up my act.

This is when I became intensely aware of my own guidance, as I didn’t have older wiser people in my life to guide me or to tell me what is right and wrong, so I had to listen to my own feelings. It really was a great gift and one I try to emulate with my daughter. She often comes to me for advice and I tell her to listen to how it feels to her.

‘Well does this feel good to you,’ I ask her. ” No but I should do it because everyone else is doing it.” She tells me. So I remind her that everyone else is not wanting what she is wanting and the best way to know if something is right for her is to feel it. If it feels good it is right for you and if it doesn’t then think about it in a way so it does feel good or do something else.

I give her the freedom we all are seeking to make decisions based on the way she feels.

What do you think I should do mum?

What do you want to do? What feels right for you?

Because of this we have a great relationship, she feels she can tell me anything and I will not judge her or make her wrong for a decision she has made. She loves discussing her life with me, but we still have our spats because we are exactly the same. We are loud and opinionated and want others to hear our point of view. She likes the idea of thinking of me like all other teenagers think of their parents, we are old and always wrong! We are a different generation and she tell me I don’t understand what it is like to be a teenager. But in truth she really appreciated the freedom I give her and the non judgmental views I have about her life. Although she wants to be like everyone else who is rebelling against their parents authority, she loves the fact that she doesn’t have to. It frees her up to think of other things.

Kids are usually afraid of what our opinions will be about what they think and the authority we hold over them, so they usually hide what they get up to. She wants to fit in with the crowd and be like the others who rebel, but really she loves having a parent who she can talk to and will not judge her or her friends for all the naughty adventures they get up to. She tells me things most kids would never dare tell their parents.

Because she has the freedom to choose her own life, she is the most conservative, responsible and caring amongst her friends. Her friends call her Mother goose and are always coming to her for advice. She want to try naughty things like alcohol, sex and drugs just like most, but not because they are naughty or because she wants to upset or rebel against her parents and other authority figures, but because they are there to try.

Life is like a big smorgasbord and there will be things on the table that you will like and things that you will not. Things that enhance your well being and things that will not. But how do you know if you don’t try them?

The world is made up of selfish or self oriented people and this is Perfect for the well being of All!

Many parents give the world to their children and then when the selfish little blighters grow into their teenaged years and do not do something that is asked of them or do something that is not approve of, parents scream ” I give you so much, I spend so much money on you and do everything for you, how can you be so selfish?’ And the child thinks; “EH! I don’t get it; I thought you did all that stuff because you wanted to, not because you have to?”

This is really the truth. As parents we give to our children because it feels really good to give, to love them and spoil them rotten. It is the best feeling in the world to adore and spoil someone we love, and really when we spoil them it gives us a great feeling. We do it more for ourselves than for the child.

When our children do not do want we ask of them they are not trying to ridicule us or hurt us in anyway, they are being the spoilt child they have always been, although they are now wearing different adult looking bodies and they do not understand that everything like, house work and food on the table and rubbish disappearing, just happens because it does. They are simply looking to feel good with their actions and deeds as we are, and maybe giving to other’s or doing house work is not high on their list of things that they think will make them feel good right now.

Most teenagers do for us, or give to us out of guilt. We have told them they are selfish, and most of them do not want to be labelled selfish, so they do the chores t gai approval, or to over come the  negative labels we have placed upon them. We don’t want our beautiful kids to grow up with this kind of feeling inside, we want them to feel free. Free to love and be kind, because it feels good to be kind, generous and to contribute to others. We want them to listen to their guidance system and to guide their life according to what they want and how they feel. After all Feeling Good is what brings a successful and happy life.

Our Kids give us so much, they give us joy, they give us adventures, they give us love. Their fabulous attitude about life is so exciting to be around. They are excited to explore and know everything, to discover this wonderful world and what it has to offer them. It is so invigorating to be around this type of energy. It lifts us up and makes us remember a time when the world held so much excitement and adventure for us too.

Freedom is what everyone is looking for and it is truer for teenagers more than most. They seek freedom to express themselves in a way that feels good to them at the time. We all want to feel we have the freedom to be and do what we want, so why do we punish our teens for this? We want more money because we think it will give us more freedom to have what we want, we want health for the same reasons and more than anything we want freedom inside our relationships.

This is what our teens ask of us. To have the freedom to be and love and explore the world and freedom inside this parent/caregiver teenager relationship. Not so much that they feel ignored or abandoned, but to be reassured that we are there for them when they need us, but the world and the decisions about what they are going to do in it, is in their hands.

Love is you ; Remember to Feel it

KAren Swain

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