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Maiara Musings

"Problems can not be solved by the level of awareness that created them" Albert Einstein

Hi Everyone, I hope that you had an uneventful week. My week was very stressful but not entirely bad. Even the fact that my ex ended up moving back to the house paled on the side of what happened to my daughter and the scare I got. That is why this week I wrote an essay about Fragile Life and Teenage Parenting and how everything gets in to perspective when very the scary and unexpected happens. I hope that this essay will give you something to think about and to truly appreciate that the teenagers, however annoying, are part of us and with everything we should just be grateful that they are alive. I wish you wonderful week ahead and thank you for visiting Maiara Musings, I will be posting next Sunday again.

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Fragile Life and Teenage ParentingAn Essay written by KKMaiaraM

And so it happened that in an instant she turned from one frustrated mother who was ready to show the door to one very impossible teenager to a sobbing nerve wreck that sat on the stairs behind closed doors at work thanking the universe and Buddha and all the other Gods on earth that the same daughter was still alive. The moment was earth shattering and her mind went blank, for there is nothing in this world worse than losing a child and even a thought of the possibility losing a child is so horrendous that all the other issues fade instantly to the oblivion and the darkness fills the soul.

After the first shock subsided and the mother’s mind got around understanding that her daughter is not only ok, but she is actually trying to calm the crying, desperately scared mom of hers so that she would realize that nothing bad had happened at the end. Finally the mother pulled herself together and told her daughter to go to  church and say prayer of thanks for her life. Only after the phone conversation was over, did her mind reel back the dialogue to the very beginning. And this is what she heard: “Mom, guess what? Something happened to me yesterday. You know that intersection where I had to change the bus around 4 pm, well mom, I was waiting for light to change and when it turned green something came over me and I stopped to check my phone, then few moments later I was about to start crossing when this accident happened. And mom, it was this big crash of two cars and flames came up. I did a cross sign mom and then this car pumper flew right over my head and hit the bus behind my back. But mom, I did not panic I was ok and no mom I did not stay to wait for the police and yes mom the drivers had these fancy big cars and they were ok but its ok mom I am ok and I just went to wait for my bus after….” While she was still sitting on the dark staircase trying to digest the conversation, the ever so familiar sound of received text from the phone penetrated her consciousness and with teary eyes she reached to the phone.

There it was, written in a hurry and with so typical style of misspelling and jumble of words that only her daughter was capable of, the follow-up text message of assurance. The smile spread over her sad face while she read these wonderful words that her daughter, who was very much alive, had written and the fragments of the message were like nectar to her soul: “….I will always be ok….you can’t keep me from trying nre things and taking risks…..in sorry that scared you…..I will jever leave u i love you……i get mad only ecause im trying to survive as a teen in a crazy world like this……but i love you”. She took a deep breath and stepped back to the world on the other side of the door. But nothing was the same, for starters her stomach was hurting and this heavy feeling of impermanence of life followed her the rest of the day. The thoughts followed her until late evening when she had to sit down and write an essay about fragile life and teenage parenting. She was hoping that by the time the essay was finished she would have gained new insight to her relationship with her highly impossible teenager and to her parenting techniques which were obviously not working anyway, since just that morning she was ready to have her daughter move out to live with her dad.

Teenage parenting, there is two very emotionally loaded words put together and at the other end are the cries of desperation from the miserable parents trying to figure out what it means. For certainly there are as many parenting techniques out there as there are parents with teenagers and whatever might work for one may be a looming disaster for another. Among the few simple questions that arise from this highly messed up situation are these: What am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to do? and What am I supposed to do? Look at me, my daughter did not even tell me about the accident until the following day, for she did not think that it would have been such a big deal. I am not even trying to understand the flow of thought, for how can it not be a big deal when I know that she runs out from the room almost in a panic if somebody is even remotely looking like they are getting sick or if they are bleeding. The teenage brain must be some alien entity which includes the part where the memory of those years will be erased once they reach the adulthood, for how can you otherwise explain the masses of middle-aged parents screaming clueless for help.

There are countless ways to approach this subject matter of which I have tried several, some techniques have been successful but mostly nothing really works. The one of the good ones is of course the old-fashioned poker face that never fails if you have practiced it enough. That has calmly gotten me through some interesting situations like the time she pulled out an EMPTY raspberry flavored Smirnoff vodka bottle out from her purse calmly exclaiming that she did indeed drink it with her friends but it is not that strong!!!!! Or the time she came home with her neck suspiciously covered with the scarf and when I voiced my opinion of such a marks and heard her shock of disgust after I admitted that her dad had once very, very long time ago done a mark on my neck too. Well, what is the difference again? I guess parents for the teenager are mainly sexless, brainless and boring naggers, who have bottomless pockets for their constant money needs and who don’t deserve a life. However, the reason that the poker face works is that when the parent manages to be non judgmental and calm in a situation, the chances are that it does not arise negative atmosphere but that of loving understanding (remember the rules of the poker, cheating is allowed and you can win as long as you won’t get caught). That understanding does not have to be deeper than the facial expressions, for to get into the argument over an EMPTY vodka bottle is rather useless since that vodka has already been consumed long ago in all ignorance of youth. The main thing is to keep the communication channels open and if the teenager feels that it is safe to be honest with the parent then less sneaking around will happen and it is better for the parent to know than not to know.

There is also of course the nagging, begging, pleading, threatening and bribing approach that every one of those teenage parents have at least once reduced themselves to. It is like a song with well-known verses. You start with the nagging, but that is only after countless kind words of asking and reasoning, words of futile attempt to reach the ears of the receiver. The ears totally deaf to anyone over 20 years of age. Once the parent is forced to change the tone of her voice it immediately gets labeled under nagging, and surprisingly enough nagging never works so then comes the next stage of begging. That, if one is really lucky, does work sometimes depending on how easy the task for the teenager is, harder the task less likely to work so it is time to raise the stakes to pleading and that has to be done with skill so that there is visual distress on parents face to gain some sympathy points, for there is a consciousness somewhere well hidden under the tough surface of know it all and I will do it later attitude. We all know that at this point the task has been accomplished for most of the time, but then there are those moments of complete frustration where the fuming words of threat are said in great anger and the war of wills has been declared. That, as anyone can attest, can escalate to rather nasty encounters with great regrets on both sides and to the silent defeat of the parent, which then leads to the last, but most successful, parenting technique of bribing. Bribing of course is looked upon those without the children the horror of parenting, for they would never, ever do it if they had kids, but then again what do they know. They have no kids. And those who have no experience with the teenagers are just not qualified to judge.

How about approaching the situation from the other angle. Lets consider the direct consequence, trust and faith method instead. Most certainly this approach has been quite easy when the little monsters were just that, little. But as their actions and mouth  got bigger the faith and trust meter might have fallen quite low and what the heck is the consequence for smoking weed, drinking, having sex and failing grades for sheer laziness anyway? The direct consequence takes some bold talk from the parents. If one is worried that the daughter is going to get pregnant then it is better to decide what is it that one can handle. It is better to be straightforward on matter and tell her that mom is not going to be a babysitter nor is she going to lose even one night of sleep watching over the baby. Or to mention that if they don’t want to study, then that is their choice, however their salaries and quality of life are not necessarily going to be what they expect and that the parents home is not a hotel with the free service. Importantly enough parents should have trust on their kids. They should let the teenager know that they are needed, for with the trust comes expectations and you would be surprised to know how powerful the feeling of being trusted and counted on is. That feeling of being needed makes them want to succeed and to live up to expectations. Even if they don’t always do the things the way the parent had envisioned it, if the intention was there and they proudly did the task, it is essential that the parents give the positive feedback for the work well done. And at the end of the day, it is the faith on future, the faith on greater good, the faith on something bigger than us that keeps us going, trusting that our teenagers are safe and that eventually they will find their place in this world.

Since we live in a world of heightened awareness for equality, there is one more thing that we as the parents have to take in consideration while deciding how to handle the very explosive situation of teenage parenting. How about our own attitude? Maybe there is a grain of truth in our daughters and sons exclamations, when they with the heavy sigh look at us declaring that we are directly from the dark ages. Our world has radically changed since we were teenagers and what used to be looked upon as extreme behavior at our times has now become an everyday norm it seems. Things like cell phones – thank god for those for it was the cell phone that saved the life of my daughter this week, had she not stopped to look at it before crossing she would have walked straight into the middle of that horrendous accident. The fashion – which seems to lean towards less and less material, if they keep reducing the amount of fabric the rate the skirt length is going up and the waistline going down they will sell themselves out of business for certainly the next fashion trend must be that of no clothes at all. The visual media – all the horrors of the world are bombarded to their brains while they are surfing the internet or watching the TV where the extreme acts of violence are as plentiful as sand on the beach. The information –  not only is huge amounts of data available for them but they are actually supposed to sort and process it in their still developing hormone fogged brains. I can’t even continue the list for my heart goes out to my daughter. Her life is far cry from my teenage years, where I had no cell phone, no computer, not even remotely sexy looking clothes in a closet, the TV had 3 channels and  my free time I spent mainly reading and doing sports while the homework assignments were dutifully done in a library sorting through the rows and rows of dusty books. As you can see the life then was very simple, sure enough the fundamental problem of being a teenager was there and the fights with parents as well, not to mention that I did indeed think that my parents were for sure straight from the dark ages….

The point I am trying to make is this: Maybe we should consider parenting our teenagers with more compassion, love, trust and humor in hopes that they would not shut us out from their alien lifestyle. For at the end of the day most important thing is that they will learn to trust their own judgement and to do their own decisions with the knowledge that the mistakes they make are theirs to make but that they are also the ones who have to live with the consequences. This is all natural part of growing up, and our teenagers are going to be alright as long as they have the knowledge of unconditional love, acceptance and support that only us parents can give them.

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