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Parenting Adolescents When You Have Changed The Rules

Nov 9, 2007
Marilee had grown up with very strict authoritarian parents, and decided that when she had children she would not be controlling with them the way her parents had been with her. Unfortunately, the only thing she knew to do was to be a permissive parent, which meant that instead of controlling her children, her children controlled her.

In the last year, Marilee went into therapy and started to learn about self-care. She realized that she had been allowing her three children, who are now teenagers, to run all over her.

"How do I deal with my teenage kids now that I have had some recovery? I am struggling with setting healthy limits, with knowing what is a healthy boundary. What do I do about setting limits around TV and computer use? How do I set up a structure for chores? What do I do to encourage them to start to take personal responsibility?"

The first thing that Marilee needs to do is accept that she has no real control over her adolescent children. At this age, and having been given little responsibility and limits, it is unrealistic to expect them to suddenly do what she wants them to do. In addition, they are not at all used to considering the effect their behavior has on her. Because she had not been taking care of herself, they had not learned to be considerate of her or helpful toward her.

However, this does not mean that their behavior will not change. It will not change in response to her demands or limit setting, but it may change in response to HER changes. Instead of trying to control them into taking personal responsibility, Marilee needs to be a role model of personal responsibility.

One aspect of her taking personal responsibility may be to speak openly with her children. She can share with them why she chose to be permissive in the past, and why this is not working for her now. She can ask for their help in what to do about the TV, the computer, and chores. Most children are far more willing to help when they are part of the process of finding solutions than when rules are imposed on them.

Children are naturally helpful and considerate of their parents and take far more responsibility for themselves when their parents are role modeling personal responsibility for themselves. As Marilee continues to learn about taking loving care of herself, she will naturally stop allowing her children to control her and let go of trying to control them. As she learns to stay tuned into herself and take care of her own needs and feelings, her children will begin to learn to do the same. All people, and especially children, respond to ENERGY far more than to actual words. When Marilee's energy is kind and personally powerful, her children will naturally begin to respect her. As long as she is trying to control them and/or allowing them to control her, they will have no respect for her and will be resistant to doing what she asks of them. But when they experience her as loving and secure within her self, they will be far more likely to respect her and care about her concerns.

The bottom line is this: people tend to treat you the way you treat yourself. If you ignore your own feelings and needs, they will tend to ignore you as well. If you judge yourself harshly, they will tend to be judgmental as well. If you try to control them into doing what you want, they will tend to be resistant.

Doing your own inner work and becoming a happy, secure, personally powerful and personally responsible person is the very best way of influencing your children to do the same.
About the Author
Margaret Paul, Ph.D., best-selling author of eight books, including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You" and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding healing process. FREE Inner Bonding course at: http://www.innerbonding.com. Phone sessions available. mailto:margaret@innerbonding.com.
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