Last night at 1:00 am, our family left the cozy precincts of Mockingbird Cottage and dashed through the rain and wind to enjoy the hospitality of our neighbors, who have a basement.
We love Mockingbird Cottage and find it a wonderful home. But with no basement, it is less than ideal for tornado warnings.
The immediate danger of tornadoes passed and we returned home, but the storm raged the rest of the night.
This morning, we walked out of the house and the sun was shining. Birds were singing. It was warm and spring-like. All was bright and happy and cheerful. The contrast to last night, when it seemed the world would be blown apart by the storm, couldn't have been greater.
It occurred to me that this is a very apt metaphor of the adolescent years. Tremendous storms are followed by the most beautiful, loveliest days. But the sunshine can be deceptive. We could easily get another storm tonight and it might be bigger or worse.
Those of us who live in places where tornadoes are apt to occur have a plan. We don't tent to get too worried about them, they're not part of what most people think and deal with on a normal, daily basis.
I would suggest that this provides a useful approach in dealing with the adolescent storms that will come to your child. Don't let them rattle you. Go about your daily business, keep calm and carry on. Storms will come often and they usually blow themselves out. Most storms can be weathered with not special shelter.
To the extent you can, be there for your child. Support and love, but always be the voice of reason. Help them see (gently) that what they think is devastating at the moment is probably not going to hurt them in the long run. Teens need people to talk them down in calm, warm tones not someone who make the storm seem bigger and worse than it is.
But there are sometimes when a storm is big enough and the atmosphere unstable enough, that a shelter is necessary. You are the shelter! Your strength and stability will help shelter them from the tempests of adolescence.
Don't try to make the storms go away. You can't. Just provide the quiet, safe place for them to work through the storm.
Don't let the storms interrupt your life or ruin your equilibrium. Your child needs you to be the stabilizer, not to stir the pot even more.
To be a shelter, you need to be grounded and solid. You don't need to be perfect, but you need to be mature. You are the adult, not the oldest kid. You must be grounded in something. It might be your relationship with God or your spouse. It might be your responsibility to your family--whatever it taks.
But if you are to help your teen deal with these storms you must be the shelter--a quiet, place of security and calm that the storm can't beat down. You need to be the adult. If your psyche is sheltered and secure you can coach your child through. If it's not, if you are insecure and dependent on others, then you are running around in a tornado trying to shelter your child with a Hello Kitty umbrella. It's a nice thought--but it's not going to do much.
Kids need adults in their lives--adults, not just older people. The maturity and security that you radiate will provide you with the ability to help your child.
One of the trends that worries me most is how many parents are skewing down to their children in terms of the way they act and talk. They are as caught up in teenage dramas as their children. This kind of a parent can offer very little during these storms.
Note: If your kids think you are cool, you might need to do some careful examination. There are some parents who pull this off, but most parents, if they are really parenting, are not going to seem cool. Extra warning: if you care that your children think you are cool, if you have ever tried to be cool to them or their friends, then you really need to re-think things. Don't be cool. Be a parent. Don't be fun. Be an adult. If you are real, they will love and respect you far more than if you manage to snatch some fe
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Thoughts about raising and teaching adolescents. You can read the complete series here. (What in the world are Middle School Mondays?) Click here.
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