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Parenting Advice Article

Tips for Dealing with the Teenager in Your Life
By Amy Phillips-Gary

Is there some (or more than one) person in your life who absolutely gets on your nerves?

Maybe it's your teenager or it could be someone else.

It may be a person you spend a lot of time with and whom you really care about, but he or she seems to know that certain tone of voice or particular way of doing things that gets to you-- and not in a good way.

This might be a person who you seem to butt heads with on a regular occasion. It could be someone who only irritates you occasionally.

Either way, you probably view this other person and your relationship with him or her as difficult and possibly even as an obstacle in your own life.

I live with a wonderful teen. He is loving, caring and sensitive-- at times.

He can also seem, to me, to be difficult, stubborn, disrespectful and even arrogant-- at times.

As young people navigate that threshold between being a child and an adult, there are those angst-filled, confidence-testing and sometimes downright harrowing years that fall roughly between the ages of 13 and 18.

The thing about teenagers is there are occasions that they seem to know each and every button to push to make the adults in their lives feel a little crazy.

It might not be a dear teen in your life that appears to cause you unending irritation and exasperation. Your partner, neighbor, boss, parent or even an acquaintance may seem to have a knack for ruining even your best days.

I believe that we all can actually benefit from a brooding teenager, irritating partner, overbearing boss, nosy neighbor, etc. because these are the people who can potentially help us expand, grow and move closer to being the person we each want to be.

Without the beautiful irritating person or people in our lives, we might not make the changes we've been wanting to make.

We could literally stay stuck in the mediocrity of the "comfortable" place we're in.

It's not about you.
As much as any of us DON'T want to hear this... nobody can make you or me feel bad, irritated, angry or upset.

We do all of this to ourselves.

There is always an element of choice in how to respond to a person or set of circumstances.

When my teen is having a grumpy day and his growling spills over onto his brother, his dad and me, I get to choose how I will greet his grumpiness and behavior.

I could take it personally and interpret his words as an insulting or degrading comment about me.

I could also set aside any judgments or knee-jerk reactions I might have and address what's going on.

Without labeling my teen in any way, I can make requests for a change in his behavior or tone of voice. I can ask him what's going on, how he's feeling, what he needs to feel supported right now.

I can listen more than I lecture. And I can be honest and upfront about what I expect from him.

When you come upon someone who seems to be directing his or her anger or criticisms your way, stop and pause before responding.

Ask yourself if you absolutely know it's true that this person is singling you out in his or her annoying.

Once you realize that your boss seems under a lot of stress and is spewing negativity on everyone in his or her path, you can begin to breathe more deeply, feel less like a victim and know what you want to say or do next in response.

Decide what you need from this situation and this person.

From as calm a place as you can reach, make it clear what you would like to happen and stay open to listen to what the other person might need at the moment.

When you really listen, you might be surprised. And you probably will gain a deeper, more accurate understanding of the person and what's going on.

Well, ok, it is really about you.
...But not in the way you might be thinking.

On another level, when you get triggered by something another person says or does, that's a sure sign that it is about you.

This doesn't mean that every time my teenager gets angst-filled or snarky I am to blame.

What it does means is the fact that I quickly and easily go to a place of irritation and annoyance with him indicates that there's learning and growth potentially available to me in this situation.

Perhaps I see in his behavior a mirror of an aspect of myself that I am embarrassed by.

I do not want to admit that I share this characteristic and I might even find myself feeling responsible for
it developing in my son.

Sometimes the person pushing your buttons exemplifies a point of contrast for you-- even if it is also a mirror of your own aspects.

He or she is making a choice that is absolutely NOT what you want for yourself.

This can be a wonderful moment for you-- or not.

Spiritual teacher Abraham points out that those blessed people who seem to cause us such consternation are actually those who help us to expand in ways we've only dreamed of.

Once you see what it is you don't want in the (possibly mirrored) choices of your button-pusher, you can take notice and then turn toward what you do want.

Many of us, unfortunately, get caught up in the trap of continuing to fixate on what we don't want as it is demonstrated right before our eyes and thus we intensify our irritation.

This usually escalates the conflict with the other person as well as the inner turmoil.

Instead, notice the contrast and-- if applicable, the mirror-- and then make a conscious shift away from what is unwanted and toward what you do want.

This can take practice and it requires you to stay
tuned in to yourself.

As great as it is to be with people who agree with us and make the same lifestyle choices we do, such an environment does not always encourage expansion and growth.

It is by recognizing the contrast in situations with others, that you can more easily decide what you want for yourself and then re-orient yourself toward what you desire.

You can also decide to love yourself and even those irritating people for who we each are... beings trying to discover our own personal paths to greater awareness, wholeness and fulfillment.

Amy Phillips-Gary is a freelance writer, homeschool mom and personal growth adventurer.




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