How was your Christmas holiday? I hope you and your family had some moments of joy, laughter, calm and connection as we say good-bye to 2022 and welcome 2023.

It’s less common now for all four of us to be in the same house so we enjoyed our twelve days together. Hearing the boys joke and laugh on a daily basis while playing games and hanging out truly warms our hearts and we’re grateful for their friendship. Although there was lots of snow to shovel, we got in a game night and a few meals between their busy social schedules.

Jeff and I worked some and thanks to his talent and a few long days, he finished our basement bathroom, so we officially called our massive home renovation complete after 7 years!! It’s always the last 5% that seems to take forever, right?! 

It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows.

I was seeing your posts and comments over social media about family vacation power struggles, too much together time and blow ups that ended with hurt feelings and frustration. All are normal parts of parenting and a LOT of together time, btw.

The holidays are hard for many reasons and with so many expectations put on being a ‘matching PJs, puzzle finishing, snowman building, picture perfect’ family, you’re often left feeling disappointed and disconnected.

When you try reconnecting with your teen or offering support in their challenge, you get the silent treatment or cold shoulder. Why?

Because your teen believes you’re th eir enemy, not their ally.

They don’t feel heard or seen in their experience so they’re not ready for or open to any relationship repair, let alone your help, even if you’ve professed your love for them, begged for forgiveness, and assured them you’re on their side.

Here’s a quick check list for you AND your teen to see what side you’re really on.

Enemy thinking:

  • Come from a place of blame, judgment, criticism, shame, or condemnation(unconsciously or otherwise)
  • Talk/lecture more than you listen
  • Convince your teen of anything–your logic/perspective, you know more, know better, you’re right, etc.
  • Believing your teen is being nonsensical, illogical, dramatic, oversensitive or attention seeking to get their way
  • You feel powerless because you don’t have power over them (fear driven)
  • Take the offense and drive the solution and win
  • Yell louder and you’ll win by shutting them down
  • Talking about feelings is pandering giving in, not to mention raising snowflakes

Teen response:

  • Sharp, angry, defensive
  • Shut down, silent treatment
  • Refusal to participate–school, family time/activities, etc.
  • Emotionally abandon and invalidated because there’s no room or time for their thoughts or feelings

Ally thinking:

  • Your teen’s brain is in a massive development phase and their often hijacked by complex emotions they don’t yet have the language to express
  • Understanding that ‘I don’t know’ is valid response often from overwhelm or anxiety
  • Listen more than you talk
  • Be patient, including taking a feeling/thinking break, knowing the small conversations build the relationship over time, not in one moment
  • Get curious with open ended questions to create understanding (not agreement) without assumption
  • Use a calm and compassionate tone to model emotional regulation
  • Empathize and validate because feelings are the gatekeeper to the rest of your teen’s brain
  • Creating ‘power with’ to empower your teen to make choices within a clear set of boundaries (not military control or )
  • Relationships are limited by taking sides and finding common ground is the fastest and healthiest way through any conversation

Teen response:

  • Talking more, even full sentences
  • Calmer and more open to hearing what you have to say
  • More likely to share how they feel and why
  • Engages while still wanting independence and adding their own style to everything
  • Takes initiative without being asked a million times
  • More likely to share taboo topics with you and ask for advice in tough situations

So how do you get from enemy to ally?

Well, there’s a few ways.

  1. binge watch my social posts including YouTube
  2. read my last 125 blogs and…
  3. try all the tips and tools in one day, feel defeated and post the L

that’s what you’re NOT doing tomorrow! And scrap the resolutions too. Instead, try this..

1. Visit my website and type in key words (boundaries, consequences, school, etc) to this search bar and read a few blogs that start where you’re at

2. Watch short videos on my YouTube Channel

3. Watch my FREE Masterclass to learn more about why your relationship with your teen isn’t working and specific tools you can use to see positive changes

Happy New Year to you and your family! I’m grateful you’re here and look forward to connecting even more in 2023.