Now your teen is checking off risky behaviours and bad habits like it’s a speed race, using vapes, weed, drinking, swearing, etc. Even their face is different. They don’t value school or their activities anymore, have isolated from their friends and are being sucked into a vortex like in a trace you can’t seem to break.
Everything changed when my teen met ‘them’.
How could your teen get involved with someone so opposed to the values and beliefs you’ve raised them under? Why on earth would your teen give up everything they had (and you’d worked hard to provide for them) for this path of self-destruction and ruin? It’s mind boggling!
You’ve tried explaining the dangers of their actions, limiting contact with this negative influence, and even forbidding the relationship. You’ve tried boundaries, consequences, grounding, and daily reminders that school isn’t optional and the opportunities they’re losing out on (scholarships, etc.) won’t come back, yet it’s falling on deaf ears.
Communication with your relationship with your teen is almost non-existent, except the angry grumbles or yelling matches that erupt from once again trying to get your teen to see the light.
Behold, the forbidden fruit.
The more you make anything off limits by declaring its evil roots and rotten existence, the more your teen wants it like a moth being drawn to the flame. It doesn’t matter how much reasoning you use or how illogical you think your teen is being, your resistance makes their muse even more attractive.
The teen brain isn’t logical and doesn’t care so put away your studies, research, and statistics to prove your point. Their brain is highly emotional and insecure and they’re desperately seeking feeling loved, special and true belonging, even if they don’t know what that means in a healthy way.
But they have all that at home!
You’ve busted your butt to provide a safe and loving home, so this makes no sense! Of course, you love them, don’t they know that?!!
Unfortunately, what you offer and what your teen experiences are two different things, and their perception is their reality. That doesn’t mean you’ve failed, you’re a bad parent, or it’s your fault. However, being defensive keeps you stuck in the problem.
The villain and victim trap
At first, your teen was the villain, going against your expressed concerns and rules and bringing increased conflict and stress to your home and your family, the focus of your anger. When the toxic relationship came to light, your teen became the victim of the evil forces pulling them away, innocent, and blameless, as you focused your rage on ‘them’.
Although this thinking is normal, it perpetuates looking at someone other than you, your teen, and your relationship to change to make the problem goes away. The truth is, the solution starts with YOU.
Bringing your teen home.
Pointing out how your teen isn’t being who you want, nagging, policing, and monitoring their behaviour with tighter controls needs to STOP today. Instead, level the playing field by giving your teen what they believe they’re getting in the other relationship.
emotional safety – what they share is met with curiosity and compassion not judgement or criticism i.e., “Tell me more about that”, “What’s it like to be you right now?”
meaningful connection – authentic, 2- way sharing with room to disagree that doesn’t jeopardize your relationship or anyone’s worth or value in the relationship
true belonging – you love and accept your teen for who they are without requiring them to suppress or abandon any part of themselves to please you
Use these 3 forms of affirmation and make your teen right about at least one thing every day.
emotional affirmation – validate their feelings as true and right for them, regardless of if you agree or not
character affirmation – point out qualities in their character they might not believe or see, even if they aren’t playing them well i.e. strong-willed can be independence and autonomous and loyalty might be keeping them in the relationship.
behavioural affirmation – use this script to affirm your teens behaviour choices (avoid saying it only when they’re doing/being the way you want them to be)
“I appreciate you taking time to do that”
“I know there’s other things you’d like to be doing.”
“I appreciate you made that a priority.”
Use ‘thank you for doing that’ only when your teen does something they weren’t asked to do.
“I was going through a very rough patch with my son. He was very depressed and sneaking out to go to his girlfriend’s house (a very unhealthy relationship). His dad was ballistic, but I shared your videos and got him on board with staying curious and keeping the communication lines open. Our son has done a 180° – broke up with his girlfriend and slowly found his self-worth. THANK YOU!!” Tatiana S.
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