KIDS

Bayview Post - - Kids -

over them.

This de­light­ful (to them) il­lu­sion causes them to push back hard against the bound­aries we set.

And then we shoot our­selves in the foot by buy­ing into their agenda when they push back. This is where emo­tional com­pli­ca­tions muddy the wa­ters of par­ent­ing. When teens en­act their in-built de­vel­op­men­tal man­date of dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing and sep­a­rat­ing from us, it hurts. We can’t help but feel re­jected when they take dis­tance. Es­pe­cially be­cause they don’t usu­ally do it very nicely.

So we feel sad. We want them back. They’re pro­grammed to sep­a­rate, but we’re not. We’re ha­bit­u­ated by 15 years of par­ent­ing to keep them close.

What hap­pens when we set a limit? They push back. They (both overtly and covertly) threaten to re­ject us more. We want them back. This is the first rea­son why we go soft on the bound­aries. We feel sad. We feel re­jected. We want them to like us. We cave. The sec­ond rea­son is our fears

When they use emo­tional black­mail to push back, we get scared. What if my kid re­ally is the only one not al­lowed to go to the party? What if my daugh­ter suf­fers (more) on the cut­throat girl so­cial lad­der? And our re­solve weak­ens.

To th­ese two sources of flabby bound­aries, at camp we say: Get a Q-TIP. Quit Tak­ing It Per­son­ally. That’s what I teach the coun­sel­lors of ado­les­cents at camp.

When you set bound­aries, teens will get hos­tile and hurt your feel­ings. This is a given. Don’t give in, be­cause when you do that, they feel un­safe. Teens need walls to push against just like blind peo­ple need to feel the walls of a room to know where they are in space. Same for teens.

Push­ing against bound­aries makes them both sullen and safe. Teens with­out firm bound­aries floun­der. We’ve all seen this. So get a Q-TIP.

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