When Your Children Aren’t Being Themselves

When Your Children Aren’t Being Themselves

Eva Fleming

I live in Florida, where hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th. To survive these six months, every home must have a contingency plan: What are we going to do in case of a hurricane? Where will we go if the storm is a category 4 or 5? What supplies do we need to have stocked (water, candles, medicine, batteries, water bottles, water for bathrooms, generators, etc.)? When should the shutters go up? If it’s necessary to evacuate, what does everyone need to take with them? How are we going to keep our pet safe? It’s necessary to have a plan for keeping our family safe and for preventing as much damage to our home as possible.

Now, imagine that a relationship between a teenager and their parent is like hurricane season. For this reason and during this season, parents need to be prepared with a clear “emergency protocol” plan. During this time, teenagers may be entering a stage of insecurity and hormonal changes that could feel like a category 5 hurricane is whipping around in your home, ripping out the relational foundation you once had with your sweet child.

You’ll find yourself arguing with a little monster – something that’s never happened before. There will be a lack of communication, and you may witness everything you’ve ever taught your child go down the drain. As if all that time of nurturing and hard work in cementing values and teaching them almost everything they know has simply vanished – as though it never happened.
Several factors determine how fast and how hard that approaching storm between parents and adolescent children, especially between mothers and daughters, is going to hit.

  • What are your temperaments like? If you’re volatile and your child takes after you and is also volatile, get ready for a super intense argument. If one of you is calmer than the other, the conversation may go a little smoother.
  • Are there any external situations causing stress on your child?
    Is your child having issues at school? How are their grades? How’s the stability of your relationship with your spouse, ex-spouse, partner? What’s the financial situation of your home and is the stress of any money issues spilling over into your child’s life? Is there a sickness in the family?
  • Do you have boundaries?
    Are there firm boundaries between you, the parent, and your child? Does each one know their place and respect each other?
  • Are there any other triggers?
    Is there something happening your life or extended family’s life that’s serving as some kind of trigger, such as the loss of a parent or a traumatic experience in your life?

Adolescence can be a time of uncertainty for everyone involved. During these times of emotional sensitivity, it’s better and wiser to follow “emergency protocols.” Police officers, firefighters and pilots follow protocols in case of emergencies; they do not let themselves be carried away by emotions. You shouldn’t either. When your child is overtaken by those hormonal demons that take over their bodies every now and again, avoid stepping directly into the eye of the storm. Instead, use your safety precautions and follow the protocol you have prepared. If you do not have these protocols defined and you are the parent of a teenager, it’s time for you to create them. It is worth spending a few hours with your partner making a plan for what to do when your children do unexplainable things. You don’t want to be unprepared for an upcoming storm. It never ends well.

Our children respond much more positively to us when we are not reactive. Fighting over a hairstyle is counterproductive. When your children are beside themselves, ask yourself the following questions: Is it bad for their health? Will it affect their grades? Will it destroy or affect their future? If your answer is no to these three questions, it is best to stop fighting or arguing about the matter. Instead, calmly follow the protocol that you have planned in advance.

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