My daughter and I have a running joke about the magic wand: It's never there when you need it and it's actually been in the repair shop for at least 20 years (or since she was in elementary school).
Pre-school problems tend to be easy to fix. You give them what they want or find an acceptable substitute. Sometimes it's as simple as kissing the boo-boo or wrapping them up in a hug, and they're on to the next thing. The magic wand (or the concept of it) is functioning pretty well.
During the teen years, however, it's another story. The kids can be single-minded, whiny, and stubborn. Distractions don't work. They definitely know how to use their words now, and may use them to sting and manipulate. And those magical hugs aren't so magical any more because they often don't want to be consoled; they're too busy being angry at you and the world. The magic wand of days gone by is most definitely out of order, lost in the recesses of the repair shop and fond memories.
Time to shift focus, as that was all about your child. If you accept the premise that you are the most important teacher (read 'magic wand') in your child's life, then the focus is now on you. Yes, I can hear some of you sighing. "She's at it again. Why is it always about me? Why can't my kid just grow up already?!"
There were many times I needed, prayed for something that would just make everything better for and with my child. (It's like going to the doctor and hoping there is a pill to cure what ails you, rather than having to make major changes in food, exercise and lifestyle.) It's the easy way at that moment, but not always the best way or a way out. Sometimes it digs you all deeper into a hole. But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are things you can do, beliefs and attitudes you can change, to transform your family.
As the children grow and change, the challenges become more complex. To be a truly magical magic wand, some things about you must adapt and grow as well:
* how you listen and communicate
* the way you see yourself and your role as a parent
* understanding your deep, long-held beliefs about yourself and life
* replacing the unproductive beliefs with empowering ones
* identifying your core values
* using those values to make decisions about anything and everything
* letting the truth be your guide, especially when it's painful
* going for everyone's best, instead of trying to prevent the worst
* taking action, even imperfect action
And if you think I'm standing on a mountaintop, preaching and looking down at all of you, think again. In the marketing world, I’ve been advised to refer to myself as a parenting expert. The term makes me a little squirmy. Expert doesn't mean I'm perfect, that I have all the answers, and that everything is hunky-dory all the time. I'm not, and it's not. You don’t just find yourself ‘done’ one day. I’m on the road, just like you, and sharing what I have learned to be true.
It means that I’m always learning from from my experiences, introspection and training. I’m able to more quickly recognize when things are heading south and, more often than not, react less emotionally and respond more thoughtfully. When my buttons are pushed (and they are pushed often), I can examine my own beliefs and thoughts and spend less time in that cranky, helpless place. It makes me a growing, evolving person and a better parent. That feels like magic to me, because life and family are infinitely better when I do these things. The magic begins in me.
It begins in you, too. Tough stuff happens. It always will. It's up to you to decide whether you drag yourself down, and others with you, or be your own magic wand.
You are the magic wand you've been wishing for. What magic will you create? What will it take to release it? The possibilities are infinite and wondrous.
Fern Weis is a certified life coach who learned that caring and good intentions are not enough in parenting. In fact, they are often the problem! Fern supports parents of teens and young adults who are going through difficult situations, including addiction recovery. She helps parents release guilt, end enabling and confidently prepare their children to thrive through life's challenges. Her articles are featured in Thrive Global, Medium, Motherly, The Teen Mentor, and Bergen County Moms.
Learn more about coaching and classes at www.fernweis.com. And then download your free guide, "Five Powerful Steps to Get Your Teen to Talk." For information on Family Recovery programs, visit www.familyrecoverypartners.com.