Teen Series: Parent Self-Care
We know that when our self-care needs are met we are better able to manage our emotions and our obligations but how does it affect our teen? Let’s look at 6 ways your self-care benefits your teen:
The Model of Self-Care. When you prioritize what you want in your own career, or you invest in your health or passions- they see this! Your kid gets to SEE success and balance instead of being talked at about it. And because you are feeling content, you see them more clearly, which helps them see themselves more clearly. This is crucial during a time they are developing their identity. When you value your dreams it gives your teen permission to fulfill their own.
It helps us with the extra hard work of raising a teen. Little kids can absolutely exhaust us but their is something about a teen that can make parents question themselves and their sanity. This work is personal. As your teen decides who they are, they may be looking somewhat critically at who you are. Values, priorities, schedules, goals, and relationships are all on the table. These topics require a lot from us and our self-care ensures we are about as ready for it as we can get.
When you practice self-care you are not their beast of burden. Nothing takes a child’s mind off of their own growth and pursuits like having to worry about someone they love. You may think- no way! That’s not me! I’m fine! You may look great to other parents, your colleagues and even your own family but our kids, man they love us so hard and are so dependent on our well-being that I urge you to acknowledge and accept how deep their affinity dives. They may not understand it in adult terms but they know when things are not quite right with their parents and this is incredibly distracting to even the most “self involved” teenager.
We give them some hope for their future. When we take good care of ourself physically and mentally we are more likely to be positive. Remember when our teen intern from episode 22 talked about needing help feeling optimistic about the future- having gas in our tank as my child would say, really helps with that. Teens are still kids (we forget this) and they do want/need some reassurance. We don’t have to lie to them or minimize a situation but by practicing gratitude we see the silver linings and we can point them out to our floundering child.
We can better manage the care of a child with special needs. Does your teen have extra needs? Do they need help with homework, struggle with organization, need help remembering their medication or support with social skills? These extra tasks, if not organized and layered into our own day full of self-care can drain us rapidly. Self-care fuels your ability to consciously and consistently approach these needs. Helping your teen learn more skills she will take with her into the future.
We are a secure base. Remember when our teen intern mentioned that she often told her parents she was fine and didn’t need help even when she did? She’s not alone. It’s a style we see in a lot of teens trying to accomplish the developmental goal of individuation. Independence is a necessary goal but learning to accept help is also important. So when your teen barks “I’m fine!” and you know they aren’t, your self-care is crucial. It’s going to help you ignore their tone, see their attempt as developmentally normal and maybe even hold your compassion long enough to come back again once they are calm and try to connect. Being repeatedly rejected can take a toll on any parent but especially one feeling insecure, stressed or burnt out.