If you are a parent of teens, or will soon be a parent of teens, do yourself a favor and read Breathe Through This: Mindfulness for Parents of Teenagers by Eline Snel. What I most love about this book is that it offers mindfulness tools that help us to be with the complexity of parenting teens in an open-hearted and vulnerable way.
Eline Snel has taught mindfulness to many parents and teens, but more importantly she writes from her experience as a mom. Her voice is real and authentic as she offers suggestions for showing up in a clear and firm, loving and forgiving way. She offers practices that can help you to do that rather than just feel like you should do that.
Excerpts that you may enjoy:
"These are the principles for genuine communication with your child:
Take your child seriously
Talk with respect and honesty
Put off giving ready-made answers
Ask yourself whether your words are helpful or hurtful
Be prepared to listen to what you may not want to hear."
"If there is tension about an issue that cannot be resolved very easily (computer use, boundaries, household tasks, nights out, alcohol, and so on), start by looking at your intention, your initial impulse to say something, and your nonverbal attitude. What can you notice about the sound and tone of your voice? What questions are you asking your teenager to find out what's really going on? Become aware of all of those moments when you expect yourself to help, want to resolve something right away, or want to impose your own will where you may not need to."
The first parenting book that I read, How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Maslish, is one that I discovered in a used book store when I was just beginning to work with children (long before I became a parent). It caught my eye, I bought it, and it has had a deep impact on me ever since.
This little book is accessible, interesting, practical and full of simple truths. If you haven't already discovered this book, do yourself a favor and get it right away! It's an easy-to-read mixture of stories, cartoons, and teachings.
Here's a useful nugget from the book:
“Some children can tell you why they’re frightened, angry, or unhappy. For many, however, the question “Why?” only adds to their problem. In addition to their original distress, they must now analyze the cause and come up with a reasonable explanation. Very often children don’t know why they feel as they do. At other times they’re reluctant to tell because they fear that in the adult’s eyes their reason won’t seem good enough. (“For that you’re crying?”) It’s much more helpful for an unhappy youngster to hear, “I see something is making you sad,” rather than to be interrogated with “What happened?” or “Why do you feel that way?” It’s easier to talk to a grown-up who accepts what you’re feeling rather than one who presses you for explanations.”
And another wonderful passage:
“To Engage a Child’s Cooperation 1. DESCRIBE WHAT YOU SEE, OR DESCRIBE THE PROBLEM. “There’s a wet towel on the bed.” 2. GIVE INFORMATION. “The towel is getting my blanket wet.” 3. SAY IT WITH A WORD. “The towel!” 4. DESCRIBE WHAT YOU FEEL. “I don’t like sleeping in a wet bed!” 5. WRITE A NOTE. (above towel rack) Please put me back so I can dry. Thanks! Your Towel”
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish also have several other wonderful parenting books--Siblings Without Rivalry, and How to Talk So Your Teen Will Listen are two of my favorites. Follow this link to see more.
My life and work are guided by the these core understandings: that all beings (including me!) are capable of transformation and joy, that healthy parenting matters profoundly, and that simple practices can support each of us.