What Bonds You With Your Teen?

bondsThere are so many things that can cause conflict between parents and teens.  Chuck in a mental health condition or two, and you’ve just raised the stakes.  Bonds between parents and teens can be pushed to their limits.  Therefore it’s not unheard of that a little arguing and shouting breaks out!

Nurturing those parental bonds keeps them strong enough to ride out tough times.  Ways to do that are as varied as our families are, however the common denominators are always communication and/or fun.  The more you have of both, the more resilient the connection is.

Jessie has a unique way of thinking that often leaves me in hysterics or shaking my head, speechless.  And sometimes a combination of the two.  Sometimes I have the same effect on her, although more of the head shaking from her end, “omg mum you’re so embarrassing.”  We don’t spend money on the things that bond us.  They’re free and effective.  I find it’s the conversations we have together about anything, or after an argument, that help.  Having conversations where we are each other’s focus, instead of a screen of some description, are awesome.  And the simple things like enjoying time together playing a game or watching a movie, sharing funny things we see online, and laughing together about silly things.

bondsWhen we started really working on our connection during our stay at Coral Tree we played charades on the iPad each night before Jessie went to bed.  There are a few free apps you can download.  We continued that at home, even on nights where we weren’t feeling so happy with each other.  Amazingly, every time we’d end up having fun together and letting go of the days upsets.  15 minutes each night is all it takes, no longer.  I wonder if it’s the same principle as reading stories before bed when they’re little? Quite possibly.

Jessie cracks me up. We were watching tv last night and an ad came on for a spray called V.I.Poo.  You spray it in the loo before you go and it claims to mask any odours.  (I love how politely I’ve written that.)  I told her I wanted to get some and she couldn’t understand why, so I was explaining the benefits to her i.e you bondscan have a crap while you’re at a party, or at your boyfriends house and you won’t leave a smell. We were already laughing because she thought it was such a waste of time and that I was weird. So after I tried convincing her of the benefits yet again, she just said to me, “nah, when you leave fast enough it doesn’t matter.”  It was a funny enough conversation, and this had me on the floor.  Who cares about washing hands, it just slows down the getaway!

Jessie was nine or ten when she started seeing a wonderful child psychologist at Westmead Children’s Hospital.  She was very volatile back then, and I remember him saying to me that having gone through these issues so young, and with all that I was learning and changing, he believed we’d find the teenage years much easier.  At the time I couldn’t see that being possible, but I think he was right.  We both know how to handle conflict a lot better, but even better, we know how to repair our bonds after any issues.

Stronger, wiser and kind




Do You Know What Your Kids Really Think of You?

I do. My daughter and I are very close (most of the time) and she loves sharing her thoughts with me. She is also very honest and can’t be bothered with false niceties. It can be very enlightening listening to her thoughts. Communication is the only way we know how and what our kids think. I love having those lines open with Jessie.

Jessie is either silent or she talks without drawing breath. She can literally talk under water. Literally! This morning she felt like talking to me while I was in the shower. Something she hasn’t done in a very long time. She was telling me about her favourite shows, and then got into how much her tastes have changed as she’s gotten older.

She’s used to like The Vampire Diaries, but thinks it’s so lame now. She said she cringes to think that she once loved it. Then she said “it’s like when old people think they’re cool but they’re not.” There was silence. I wiped the steam off the shower screen and I looked at her. She looked at me. We started laughing and I asked her if she was talking about me. Silence again!! Hilarious! Then – “yeah Mum. Sorry, but you’re not cool.” I tried to convince her that I am actually very cool, but apparently my generation can’t be cool. She just doesn’t understand the real meaning of what it is to be ‘cool’!

ThinkI used to be a punk for christ sake, with my spiked hair and my hardcore skeleton buckle boots! I’m cool goddamn it!! The eyes nearly rolled out of her head. Imagine how embarrassed she would be if I still looked like that. It’s so funny that I’m just seen as Mum, not as a whole person who’s had a life before motherhood.

So on she goes with her conversation. I’m hearing all about her shows and who she ‘ships’ and why – something I wouldn’t understand she tells me. I started laughing again and said “oh my god, so I’m uncool and stupid?” Thankfully I was corrected – no not stupid…just cringy. Cringy!! I’m not to take it personally though, because most of my generation is cringy, with the mum jokes and the dad jokes and the general embarrassment we can’t help bestowing on our kids. So phew, that’s a relief. She was kind enough to acknowledge that her kids will no doubt be embarrassed of her at some time too. She’s very thoughtful like that!

I’m out of the shower by now, getting dressed in my room and she was looking at a photo of a pregnant me that I have on the wall. She says to me “you were so pretty when you were younger Mum. Not boasting but I think I’ll be pretty when I’m older. I’m just worried about when I’m 50 and ugly.” I’m 46… Getting close to the end of that timeline and that ugly stick’s going to be coming after me! I guess 60 = fugly? 70 = fuglyas? 80 = fuuugly? 90 = hopefully in my grave.

thinksThis afternoon I had my first impromptu lesson in Why Mum’s NOT Cool. Jessie asked me why I did something, I can’t remember what, and I said “coz that’s just how I roll.” She immediately said, in a flat tone, “And there it is – cringy”, before disappearing into the smelly depths of her cave. Snap.

Luckily I know she loves me more than everything else she loves put together. She makes me laugh hard. Today was a good day.

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