The Upside Down Teen

Written by Parenting Expert Janet Philbin, LCSW, CHt

Many parents have been coming to me and sharing their worries and concerns about their tweens and young teens staying up very late into the night, around 3 or 4 a.m., playing on phones and video games. Parents are looking for a solution for the problem. Their first instinct is to punish their child and take away their devices. In most cases this has led to resentment and to children ‘lying” in order to find a way to get back online.

This is causing a lot of pain for the parents. They are having a hard time embracing and fully understanding that their teen is struggling or in pain right now. Developmentally, a 12-16-year-old does not have the emotional coping skills to deal with the pandemic and how it has turned their life completely upside down: they have no more school, no more sports, no more extracurricular activities, no more socializing, parties, or plans. Their worlds are shattered and confusing. What is happening in their lives is being mirrored by the new patterns of sleeping until mid-afternoon and staying up all night. They are upside down.

As parents, we also have never coped with anything like this. However, we still have to get up each day, take care of the house, kids, ourselves and work (if you have a job inside or outside of the home). Our schedules have not changed, even though the routines may be different. Parents are having the same hard time coping with the pandemic but have more emotional resources to deal with the stress.

As parents, we feel the need to react and control. The time our children are going to bed is very concerning. Have you ever stopped to ask what is really going on with your child? What is your child really looking for when he or she stays awake until 4 am? Are they looking to feel connected? Is their body not tired enough to fall asleep? Your gut reaction may be to remove all video games, to unplug the modem, to take away the phone and lock it up. But I want to offer you another solution first. Because if we continue to take away more and more for longer and longer periods of time, it will only lead to mutual resentment.

I offer you this as an alternative:

  • Check in with yourself. What is happening within you that is getting triggered when your child is up so late and on electronics? Are you fearful, worried? Are you in the future with all sorts of thoughts of what will go wrong in his or her life if all they do is play videos all night? Are you worried about their health because their sleep patterns are reversed? Are you worried about how they will be able to reset, and get back to school? Pause and check in with yourself. What are your deep fears? What are the fears you have not said aloud to anyone? Ask yourself, where do the fears come from? When and why did you learn to even be fearful about these things? How are these fears impacting you in your day to day life now as you watch your child struggle?
  • Stay present. Being in fear and worry is all about the future. It is not about what is happening now. Worry creates anxiety and when we are anxious we are not in the present moment. The present moment gets stolen and we spend our energy doing our best to control the environment and others. Is this happening for you? If it is, the first step is to pause. Take a long, hard pause. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, because these are your feelings and not your child’s.
  • Work through your own feelings first. Let your feelings rise to the surface and greet them. Take out a pen and paper and journal about what you are feeling about all of this and why. Take time to meditate and clear your mind. Go out and take a walk or exercise and give room for the feelings to move through and out of your body. Once you have done this, and it may take a few hours or a few days, then you will be ready to approach your child and this problem with new energy.
  • Create healthy boundaries. Once you’ve gone through these other steps you will have clarity about what is going on with yourself, which will give you more clarity about how to make a decision about boundaries for your child. You are now ready to engage your child in a conversation. Ask for their opinions and feelings, really listen to what your child is saying. Connect to their heart, hear their struggles and their pain. Validate their feelings. Your child’s voice counts. Together, come up with a plan they also agree with. One in which he or she is also deciding on boundaries. This will take compromise. Be patient as you may need to revisit the conversation more than once before you have a solution that works for everyone. However, once your child feels like he has a choice and a voice in the process, they will more than likely comply.

Remember, all our children want is to be seen, feel secure, validated, to know they matter and that they are loved. Taking the steps and the time to first check in with yourself allows you to respond to their needs from a loving place within yourself instead of reacting from a place of fear and worry. Be a team, brainstorm solutions together. Approaching the upside-down world of your child from a place of alignment within yourself is the place to start.

 

Janet Philbin is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Hypnotherapist (CHt) that helps people solve the emotional mysteries that has plagued them and kept them “stuck” in their lives. Additionally, Janet is a Certified Conscious Parenting Coach. She was certified by Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s Conscious Parenting Coaching Method Institute. Janet works with clients to uncover and heal the issues of the inner child which are influencing their adult life and parenting in the present. She is also the author of Show Up For Yourself: A Guide to Inner Awareness and Growth.

 

Meet A Parenting Expert: Angie Collins

Name: Angie Collins

Website: www.ParentCoachAngie.com

Location: Falls Church, Virginia (as of August 2020)

Tell us about what you do. I have always had an interest in working with children. I graduated from Chaminade University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education, and went on to get my Master’s in Education/Child Development from Tufts University. I also have a graduate-level certification in Parent Coaching from the Parent Coaching Institute via Seattle University.

How long have you been working with parents and children? I have been working with parents and children for over two decades. After teaching elementary school for several years in Hawaii, I joined the U.S. Peace Corps and served in West Africa as a Preschool Teacher Trainer for two years. Shortly after earning my M.A. in Education, I started a family of my own and am now a busy mom of three teenage girls. Because of my own personal experience, about three years ago I started coaching parents who are also raising girls. 

Why were you drawn to working with parents and children? Initially I was drawn to working with children as a teacher over twenty years ago. Eventually I realized that I could have an even greater impact on a larger scale on children’s learning and development by educating and empowering other community members who work directly with children. So, my work went from teaching to training teachers. After having daughters of my own and chatting with parents from around the world–from Virginia to Vietnam–I realized there was an even greater need to talk with those who potentially have the greatest impact of all on children’s well being: parents. 

I have lived in six countries in the last two decades and I have met parents of every socio-economic background; some parents held a PhD and other parents’ circumstances meant they only achieved a middle school education. I have talked to single mothers of three daughters, happily married moms with one child, at-home parents by choice, and mothers with demanding careers in which they excelled. None of these these parents’ circumstances seemed to inherently guarantee nor hinder a mother’s confidence in their own parenting ability. Nor did these circumstances dictate a parent’s level of happiness. But, they all wanted the same in the end–to parent well and to help their children thrive. With an intense desire to help such families, I was drawn to the parent coaching world. 

What is the biggest misconception you think parents have about parenting? Parents today are completely invested in becoming better parents. They spend years trying to perfect their craft. If someone had such a level of commitment and dedication in learning how to fix a car or bake a cake, they’d be experts equipped to handle any issue that might arise. Squeaky brakes? They’d know exactly what parts to purchase and what tools would be most effective in making the repair. Cake didn’t rise? Well, an expert baker would simply rarely experience such a mistake.  

A big misconception is that parents, with a few tips and tricks, can reach a similar level of expertise and be the perfect parent who, with one right move, can eliminate all future problems. 

But, people are living, changing, growing beings and there are no quick fixes. What works today may not work next week. Similarly, what works for the neighbor’s child may not work for another child. “How-To” YouTube videos may have led to self-taught bakers, but there are no such instructional videos on how to raise a child. 

So, I’d say one big misconception about parenting is that the answer to all parenting challenges is one Google search away and if a parent could just type the right combination of words into the search bar or find the right “how to” video, then all of a parent’s problems would be erased. 

My goal as a Parent Coach is to help parents rediscover their confidence and, with guidance help them to realize they have the power to be the best parent for their child. Rather than doling out tips and tricks, teaching parents about true connection and communication is the key to happier parenting and more connected families. 

What do you think is the hardest part of parenting today? The underlying fabric of society has changed. Many people move away from the city where they were raised and away from extended family who they could have relied on for support. In addition, while many parents are occupied with careers and activities, they find that little time or energy remains outside of their busy schedules. Meanwhile, men and women alike struggle internally as parents, with few people in their lives who they turn to regularly for both physical and emotional help, leaving them stressed and overworked. 

While there is true value for those who have been able to find their “tribe,”creating those connections and securing true support can be one of the hardest parts of parenting. We’ve all heard that it takes a village to raise a child, but finding that village is a challenge as people in the modern village have become harder to reach. Focusing too intently on trying to assemble a “tribe” can become overwhelming itself when already faced with sleepless nights or stressful days. 

What’s one piece of advice you can share with us today? Don’t wait until you’re struggling to reach out to people. If you are able to find your tribe, love them hard. Lean on them for support and offer the same in return. Humans are wired to connect with others. Your chosen tribe can be a great source of energy that serves to lift you up on an especially challenging day and be there to celebrate with you when things are flowing well.

Be creative when assembling your tribe. Members of your tribe need not be parents themselves, nor do they need to share equal life challenges as you. The key is connection. 

If I could offer one piece of advice for parents, however, it would be to not fret if you are unable to assemble a distinct tribe easily.  

Particularly during your child’s early years, when trying to balance everyday life with raising your son or daughter, it can become too overwhelming to identify potential members of your tribe. So reach out to a professional for support. Parent Coaches can often meet you at a local coffee shop or chat with you online if your busy schedule prevents you from being able to step out for too long. There may also be parent social circles available in your local community. 

When you feel supported and connected with others, you may feel less stressed and able to parent more calmly, which can result in a stronger connection and therefore a better behaved child. But, that support can look different from person to person, whether it comes from friends, family, colleagues, or a professional.  

What are your favorite resources to share with parents? If you’ve searched for information on parenting, you already know that bookstores are not short on great resources. There are books on every parenting challenge imaginable – from guidance on ADHD and raising children with anxiety, to sleep problems and stress in teens. As a professional who works mostly with mothers who are raising daughters, I am a fan of the work of Lisa Damour, PhD. I appreciate her work in particular because she sheds light on the value of stress and anxiety and details clearly how to help girls thrive. 

I also urge parents to step outside of the box when searching for resources – it is often the case that our children are not the ones who need “fixing” – it is us – as parents. Look for books that inspire you and could help you gain confidence as well. I love Brene Brown, who can be an inspiring resource in accepting and becoming your best self, which will help you to become the best parent you can be as well. 

Which topic will you be speaking about at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference? At this year’s Revolutionizing Parenthood conference, I will be speaking about raising girls in my workshop, “Empowered Girls: What Parents Can Do to Confidently Raise a Resilient Daughter.” 

Participants of my workshop will walk away with the steps they can put into action immediately to help their daughters cope with the academic stress of school, social pressures from peers, constant flow of social media, and general feelings of anxiety and overwhelm. Parents will discover effective ways to support their daughters while also letting them grow.

 

Loving Your LGBTQ Children Exactly as They Are

Written by Guest Blogger Georgia DeClark

It goes something like this: “Mom, Dad, there’s something I need to tell you. I’m gay.”

From that moment on, your life changes. Any number of emotions sets in: worry, sadness, disappointment, anger, confusion, relief, joy. But now what? How do we tell Grandpa? What will the fallout be at church, or school, or in the community? The initial questions, most of which are based in fear, can go on and on.

When we are faced with this situation as parents, these initial thoughts may swirl through our heads, many of which are linked to our own future dreams and expectations. Parents’ initial responses to their child may unintentionally involve strong, harsh, unloving words that they’ll later regret saying. And yet, we’re all human, just trying to do our best.

After taking the needed time to sit with this new normal, it’s a gift to our child to check in with ourselves to try and ascertain what’s behind our reaction, if it is not as we wished it were. Do we feel as if we’ll be judged by our family, or community? Do we make this ours, as if to say that if we were better parents, “this might not have happened?” Are we fearful that perhaps we’ll be rejected, or that our child will be rejected as well? We may need to grieve the loss of the child we thought we had so that we can embrace who we now know our child to be. Deep down as parents, we want our children to be happy and lead fulfilling lives that bring them joy. But if we are carrying old stories and scenarios from our lives based in fear, we may inadvertently be dragging them into the present moment with our child. And it’s likely that under closer scrutiny, all of that old “stuff” has nothing to do with our child anyway.

Having come out at 60 years old, I can personally relate to every part of this scenario, except that I needed to come out to my husband and children, after I came out to myself. When asked if I realized earlier in my life that I was attracted to women, my response was that I just did “what my mom said that girls do,” which is: grow up, meet a guy, fall in love, get married, etc. So, I married a man, had three wonderful children, and was leading my life. At some point, however, I needed to address my discontent and admit to myself that I was not living authentically. It was then that the hard work began. And yet I knew that there was no other choice for me except to make some very big changes in order to live my true life.

When I came out to my then 85-year-old aunt, I was more than a little nervous. I was worried about what she would think, what she would say, if she would judge me. But ultimately, I knew that I needed for her to know that I was now going to be living authentically, regardless of the outcome.

Her response? “Oh, Georgia, I didn’t think I could ever love you more than I did, but now I realize I love you even more!” What a gift she gave me! I was relieved, and also grateful to be seen and accepted by someone I love so deeply.

And if we don’t show up as our best selves when faced with this news, what steps do we need to take to mend the relationship and recreate our connection? How can we best support our child as s/he moves forward? As my aunt demonstrated, the best way to react to a child or loved one coming forward to tell us who they authentically are is to step out of our own way entirely. When we can imagine what it feels like to be in our child’s place, we can connect much more deeply with our compassion and be available to offer full, unconditional support. It will be then that we can recognize that all children, as well as all humans, just want and need to be seen, known, loved, and acknowledged that we are enough, just exactly as we are. And lovely things can happen from there.

 

Georgia DeClark is a PCI ® Certified Parent Coach , professional educator, and mother. With over 30 years of experience working with children and supporting their parents through the challenges and joys of their lives, she has a deep understanding of the demands, struggles and rewards that come from day-to-day parenting. Georgia works with parents to address their unique parenting challenges and concerns. After collaborative conversations within the coaching relationship, parents become empowered and available to support their children as they grow and become their most authentic selves.

 

Treat Yourself This Valentine’s Day: Discounted Conference Tickets For Couples

I know that Valentine’s Day is typically reserved for chocolates and expensive dinners or jewelry, but I find that, while these things are great for an evening, romance can only go so far if you’re not actually fixing the things you tend to fight about. This is especially true for parents. Once you have the added stress (umm, joy?) of kids in your life, it can put a lot of extra pressure on a marriage or relationship with a partner.

My husband and I met when we were only 18 years old. Although we were just friends for many years before we started dating, we have an incredibly solid foundation that helps keep us together when times get tough. But being together doesn’t always translate into having a strong connection. In fact, the connection is the hardest part. We both work, so our time together is usually pretty limited and fueled by exhaustion. And more often than not, instead of connecting, we end up having the same argument over and over again: we’re not on the same page when it comes to how we approach parenting.

We have two very smart and sassy girls–Sadie, almost 5, and Ava, 19 months. When we face parenting challenges, I am usually the one who is doing all the research, reading the books (let’s be honest, I don’t have time to read books. I skim them or listen to them on audiobook!), asking others for help in online parenting groups, and just generally being responsible for figuring out what to do. It annoys me that my husband thinks he can just “wing it”, which ultimately means that we’re sending mixed messages to our kids.

So, after our quadrillionth fight on this subject a few weeks ago, I decided to try something new: I asked him if he’d come to the Revolutionizing Parenthood Conference with me in April. And he said yes! In fact, he seemed pretty jazzed about the idea of also being the one to get educated about tools we can use to be better parents with a more united front. I’m really excited about this, and think that this will be more than just a chance for us to get on the same page about our kids; it will be an opportunity for us to connect in a whole new way, rediscover things about ourselves and each other, and just be two grown ups out without our kids for a day.

If you are looking to do something with your husband (or wife) that further solidifies your partnership and helps you create a more united front when it comes to your children, consider joining me at the Revolutionizing Parenthood conference on April 25th. To make it even harder for you to say no, we’re running a Buy One, Get One Free (yes, FREE!) special for a limited time. Use discount code LoveBird50 at checkout February 12th through February 16th to take advantage of this awesome deal!

Indulge in a momcation

Removing Your Emotional Backpack: A New Kind of Momcation

Written by Guest Blogger Tink Fisher

Tink Fisher of Clean House and Rise Gatherings

All moms get tired, even the ones who are real-life versions of Pinterest. The everyday struggle can weigh on you until you are burnt out and feel like you’re on autopilot. For me, juggling a full-time job, three children, and a wife can be exhausting. And although I feel so incredibly grateful for it, some days I just need a break. 

As a mom–whether running after toddlers, battling with teenagers, or emotionally supporting young adults– it is extremely difficult to take time for yourself with the weight and pressure of filling up everyone else’s cup. Especially in today’s world, where the hustle and bustle can drain even the Energizer Bunny. 

As women, I believe most of us hold it together pretty well and manage to do most things with a smile. Inside, however, I think it’s safe to say that our smiles don’t always tell the entire story.  

I read once that our emotional baggage is like a backpack we carry on our soul. The more things we keep in our backpack, the more weight we feel in our heart. Even the little things, such as finding dishes in the sink after a long day at work, or breaking up a screaming match over a toy (you know, the toy that no one showed interest in for months but now one of them wants it, so it’s the hottest commodity in the house), or when you hit every red light on your way to work. I personally know how these things add up because these are actual examples from my week. Each day I continue to add weight to my backpack, and it’s rare for me to take time to unload some of that baggage.  

When was the last time you removed your backpack to lessen your load? 

This is where the term “momcation” comes into play, which seems to be trending these days. Now, I understand that typically when people talk about a momcation they   are usually thinking about hopping on the next flight to Miami to sip Mai Tai’s in South Beach And while a beach vacation is incredibly appealing, does it really lend itself to helping you make sweeping changes in your life?  What if, when we talk about a momcation,we instead think about an experience that leaves you feeling connected, refreshed, and refueled? One that gives you clarity and supports your desire to be a better mother, friend, partner. A space that supports you in all that you need in the present moment instead of escaping it. 

A women’s retreat is exactly that, but rarely considered when we think about momcations. Rise Gatherings Annual Weekend Getaway provides you with the perfect opportunity to take a momcation that might actually change your life.

Rise Gatherings

Photos by Linette Kielinski

One thing that I feel many women can agree upon is that the days are long but the years are short. We are often told “enjoy it while it lasts” and struggle so intensely with finding balance.  Balance with being present and connected, balance with taking time for ourselves while still providing for those we love, balance with being on autopilot and taking time to enjoy the little things. 

A women’s retreat can, surprisingly, be the answer to our prayers. Picture waking up to the sun (not our children jumping on our bed), amidst 450-acres of lakeside serenity (not 450 pieces of legos). Imagine taking a leisurely walk to a morning workshop (not having to sit in rush-hour traffic only to sit at a desk for eight hours). Imagine eating substantial, nourishing meals and being able to dive into transformational conversations that ignite your inner light. Imagine experiencing a weekend filled with joyful noise, healing tears, and energizing movements. Instead of wanting to escape our current state of life, we can return home with a new, refreshed mindset, and an appreciation for the beautiful chaos we call life. 

During the Rise Gatherings Annual Weekend Getaway, women have the opportunity to not only remove their backpacks but also unload and examine the clutter inside those backpacks that were holding us back. Once the clutter is removed, we can replace it with the tools we need to help us get through our day, happily.  As women we are continuously evolving and transforming, as are our needs. What we carry in our literal purse, or metaphorical backpack, should support us. When we take the time to lessen our load and replace the items in our bags with new, functional tools to support our current needs and desires, we in turn, are gifting those around us with the best versions of ourselves. 

Indulge in a momcation

Photos by Linette Kielinski

While the sun and sand still sound appealing, a momcation that ignites my inner light and invites me to connect more deeply with myself and others, is actually the best way for me to lessen my load and reinvent my toolkit. I will continue to “Rise” and reinvent myself year after year at Rise Gatherings Annual Weekend Getaway!

 

Tink Fisher is the Owner of Clean House, Associate Director of Rise Gatherings, a wife and a mother of three wonderful children.

Finding Ways To Make Parenting A Little Easier

Parenting is hard. I think that’s one thing we can all agree on. Which is why it’s so important to create that village that everyone talks about. We can’t exist on an island; we need community support, group think, and sometimes a big bottle of wine to get through the tough times. Not to mention that it enriches our lives to have someone to share the good times with.

Here’s group think from around the web this week:

 

Who Run The World? Girls!

Trying to raise exceptional girls? That’s no small task. But in this article from The Washington Post, five different mothers share what they are doing in order to raise girls who are strong, smart, successful, and caring. These five girls who are profiled are all changing the world in their own unique way, and your child can too. It’s worth noting that many of the tips in this article can also be applied to raising incredible boys!

 

The Heavy Burden of the Mental Load

While there are plenty of Dads out there who are doing their fair share to help manage the work/life balancing act, research has shown that Moms are the ones who carry the heavier burden of the mental load. Jennifer Folsom, author of “Ringmaster: Work, Life, and Keeping It All Together,” shares her tips for how working moms can unload some of the burden of the mental load in their lives.

 

Laughter Is Sometimes The Best Medicine

We might have a different approach to raising our children, or different preferences when it comes to the foods we eat, but there’s one thing that’s universal to all parents: lack of sleep. This mom nails it in this funny article from Mommy Nearest about all the ways she’s been woken up since becoming a mom.