- Posted by ROWI
- On October 11, 2017
Taking Back Your Power As A Parent:
It felt like yesterday that your teen listened to you, they may have even liked you *shock*. It was only a week ago that you asked them how their day was and they actually told you. Now….crickets.
When it comes to power- it’s not just cleaning rooms and keeping curfew that we are talking about, it’s parents wanting and needing to be heard when their teens are putting themselves in life threatening situations. Parents want their power back, and I don’t blame them. Taking it back starts with how you define power- when we look at a healthy family system there is an element of control and respect that the parents have in the sense that they are creating the rules and structure of the household but we also think that bringing your power back as a parent comes from re-attaching and re-connecting to your teen.
It is an incredibly difficult transition for parents when their teens go from really looking up to them and wanting to spend time and connect with them to all of a sudden Middle and High School roll around and that all changes. Now their peers are the people they want to spend time with and the predominant influence in their lives. While this is natural, and for the most part healthy, it is a weight on the family system. It has been my experience as a family therapist that parents most often lose their power when it becomes more about the power and less about the relationship.
Traditional parenting philosophies are really supported by the idea that because you are a parent you innately deserve and are entitled to respect and power. While I agree with that sentiment, what I find most often with the teens that I am working with is that they do not typically feel respected or trusted by their parents- and they feel like they then have a right to be disrespectful back.
Often times, the key to a parent getting their power back is to form good and meaningful connections with their teens by reevaluating family roles and communication styles and reconnecting in an authentic way. Really ask yourself how you communicate with your kid- is it working? I spend nearly all of my day communicating with teens and understand how challenging it can be. Even in my own work as an adolescent therapist I notice myself pseudo parenting to some degree but I am forced to remind myself that teens just want to be listened to- and most often their desire is to be listened to by their parents.
It seems so counterintuitive that our love and protective nature of our teens could be the biggest downfall in our communication-but it often times is. This love and protection leads us to wanting to solve our kids problems for them, or judge their problems, or fix their problems. It’s harder to listen to what someone needs when you are in problem solving mode- it also sends them the message that we don’t trust that they are capable to do it themselves. Then we find that kids no longer want to go to their parents when they are hurting and in trouble- this is dangerous. Now they are going to their friends- and their friends are the ones with all the power. “How do I get my parenting power back?” Is the same as asking “how can I get my kid to talk to me?” The most powerful tool we have as parents is the connection we have to our children. Teens want structure, and they want boundaries, and they want their parents to be in control. It’s just how we as parents go about exerting that power that can create positive or negative family power dynamics.
By Brittany Cohen