In putting together a presentation called Surviving the Ride on the Adolescent Rollercoaster, I invited mums and dads who have done a Time & Space program to come along to a preview of the talk. It was Melbourne based and as the programs are offered around Australia (and indeed the world now – with sessions happening in the U.K.), emails started coming back from parents of teenagers saying “I would love to come but obviously it is hard to get there from Perth!”
How could these keen parents be included, I wondered.
And then an idea visited. They got another invitation by email – “What do you know to be true about ways you can survive on the Adolescent Rollercoaster?” – It was an opportunity to ask the Tribe, the Time & Space Community.
Responses flooded back. Survival tips from Mums and Dads and Carers going about their everyday efforts, raising their adolescents as well as they could. They were brilliant. So here’s some of the wisdom that flowed back. As you read it… consider what you think your answers are…
From Kate Clark (Melbourne)
The best thing I did with my now 19-year-old daughter, to keep the rollercoaster on track, was to head off early on a Thursday morning and have breakfast in a cafe on the way to school. We started this when she was having a few wobbles in Year 9 and continued it through to the end of Year 12. I got the idea from a colleague at work who said she used to have dinner with her teenage son every Monday night and that got them through some tough times.
From Paul Shanley (Melbourne)
Be prepared to be open and vulnerable with your kids – be open about some of the struggles you have been through, how you got through them, what your learnings were. Your children are then more likely to share with you, your challenges and issues.
From Jennifer Pacifico (Adelaide)
Be the parent, not the friend… if there are times when my children are unhappy about something I am doing, saying, or restricting – then I tell myself I’m doing a good job.
And… grumpy, moody, stompy, uncommunicative teenagers turn into delightful, loving older human beings – they just get a bit lost for a while.
Melinda Rau-Wig (Geelong)
Let’s just say I have used our Maltese Terrier, Angel to be the ‘go-between’ when times get unbearable…
David Perry (Melbourne)
As a divorced parent… I just try to maintain a dialogue, tell them I love them, teach them resilience by example and have some fun when I see them.
Karmen Krasic (Geelong)
Do something as simple as going for a drive to a destination of their choice, which I always find makes for great conversations as they do not have to make eye contact.
Wendy Usher (Perth)
There is one thing we never do. I find it most important.
Never take fear into a conversation. Especially if you are in a situation where you are worried. If you are stuck in ‘cause and effect’ you won’t be able to step out of your fear and create the optimum thinking, feeling and acting needed.
Richard Cook (Melbourne)
Friends – quality not quantity.
Tiffany Winn (Adelaide)
I have learned through sheer trial and error that when my son says a boundary isn’t fair, actually, it is usually very fair… and I have to accept being viewed as an unfair parent, to be a good parent.
Glen Wakefield (Hobart)
When things get heated it has been good for us to have some time out for a little while to allow things to cool down… I mean for both parties to give each some space and have a think. When we do come back together we deliberately try and keep the voice volume low and calm and deliberate. Respect each others’ point of view.
Mark Farmer (Adelaide)
One-on-one conversations are great. The hard thing is to find a time when they want to talk to me. When that happens I have to be prepared to drop what I am doing and sieze the moment – as these opportunities don’t come around often…
Kerri Philpott (Hobart)
I recently put some photos of my two children on the fridge… I change them every week just to remind me of what they were like when they were little. The pictures always give me a smile.
Implicit in this are a few summary ideas…
… wisdom comes from experience – often we can bunker down in our own little family setting – isn’t there some value in finding ways to share, ask the tribe? The pool of expertise deepens when we share what works and doesn’t work with each other.
… you won’t agree with everything. That’s good. There are no hard and fast formulas that are gaurantees. We can learn about what we value when something grates, something strikes a “I don’t believe that” chord.
… there’s only half the answers here. Who’s missing? Of course, the adolescents themselves. Perhaps you might share this article with them and ask them their best tips for mums and dads surviving the ride on the Adolescent Rollercoaster (hmmm, there’s the idea for a story to come!)
Feel free to share your thoughts. You can reach out to the whole Time & Space Community by sharing your thoughts in the space below or email Bill through the box on the Contact Page of www.time-space.com.au