Being a parent can be one of the most rewarding roles a person can ever experience. It can also be draining, exhausting, and unusually confusing.
Parents of the teens I support will often say to me, “my teen is struggling with XYZ, and I know I am also struggling, BUT I don’t have time to deal with it right now.”
Do you find yourself doing everything in your power to support your teen, finding that at the end of a very rough day, you’re exhausted? If you are juggling emails to teachers, counselling appointments, and emotional rollercoasters; it can be like having a second full time job.
How you take care of yourself will support you and your teen along the way to get through the tough times and relish in the great times. “You can’t pour from an empty cup”, is a message we need to hear over and over again as parents. The more you take the time to fill your cup, the more you can pour into your teen’s cup.
If it feels like everything is falling apart and you want a smoother, more fulfilling experience as the parent of a teen, ask yourself: What am I filling my cup with?
I think parenting will always have ups and downs, there isn’t a utopic vision to strive for. There are however guiding principles that can support you during these capricious years. Try filling your cup with the following:
Self – Care
If you are tempted to stop reading right now, chances are you are not practicing a lot of self-care, or are just over this catch phrase word. I encourage you to keep reading… Self-care is incredibly important as a parent because not only does it fill your cup, it models to your teen skills and behaviours that will build their resilience as they go out in the world.
Self-care can look many different ways and what works for one person may not for another. You may also notice some strategies that worked well for you in the past no longer fit the bill.
Think of self-care as putting your oxygen mask on first. If you invest in daily practices, you will be able to be the best parent you can be.
I sometimes hear from the parents I work with, “how do I find time for self-care?”. I suggest starting small and tacking it on to something you already do. When I started meditating and exercising in the morning a few years back, I started with a 1-minute meditation and 10 sit-ups. I tacked it onto brushing my teeth in the morning. As soon as I was done brushing my teeth, I did my little self-care routine. It quickly became a short and doable habit and eventually grew to be a more filling self-care practice that I now do every morning.
What inspires you? Where do you feel the most creative?
A creative brain cannot be a stressed brain at the same time. When we make time to tune into our creativity, it helps the brain start thinking outside the box.
This means thinking on your toes, the possibility of responding to things that come up between you and your teen differently, and looking at conflict and problem solving with a fresh perspective.
So, go out in nature, pull out your camera or art materials and allow yourself to tune into that creative self as often as you can.
It truly does take a village. Having a support system in place can provide you a place to vent, lean on, and a shoulder to cry on when needed. Your natural support system may include relatives, friends, neighbors, significant others, roommates, and community (local and online).
You may ask yourself: Who has been instrumental in different points in my life? Who can I count on for help? Who are the people that have my back or are willing to go to bat for me?
You might be thinking you already use “No” all the time with your teen. In fact, you may be really great at being clear around boundaries, rules, and expectations in your family. If so, this is amazing and worth acknowledging and celebrating for yourself.
Saying no is about giving yourself permission to say no to overdoing it, overcommitting, and overexerting yourself thinking that is what it means to be a good parent. Take a moment to do a time inventory and take stock of things you may be able to release or let go of. In saying no to some things, you are saying a BIG yes to being your best self.
Turn Down The Radio
Our minds are always saying things to us. It can be like radio noise, at times playing in the background and other times blaring and drowning out all other things. When your radio noise is playing the ‘not good enough story‘ or the ‘unworthy story‘, it can be like a fog overshadowing every choice and decision you make as a parent.
Check-in with your radio noise. What is your mind saying to you? What are the thoughts that play on repeat? Turn down the radio noise that doesn’t serve you as a parent and as a person living your best life.
Next time you find yourself thinking that your struggle isn’t worth putting first, think again and ask yourself: What is one thing I can do to fill my cup today?
If handling your teen’s stress is an area you need support with, I am offering a Stress Busting Bootcamp for you and your teens – coming soon! Your teens will receive 28 days of texts with stress busting tools, while you will get four weekly webinars and a session with me. You can email me for details at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chantal Côté (she/her) is a psychologist and teen life coach living in Calgary, Alberta. After over a decade in non-profit and community mental health, Chantal started Pyramid Psychology, a practice dedicated to supporting teens – a population she is constantly amazed by. Chantal is on a mission to help 100,000 teen girls (and their parents) build bulletproof mindsets so they can weather the ups and downs of life. As part of this goal, Chantal has had the privilege of speaking at various events – virtual and live – to support teens and parents.
Outside of this passion, Chantal is often in nature, writing poetry, playing ball hockey and hanging out with her loved ones.
Each week, Chantal writes a blog article in response to issues she hears from the parents and teens she connects with.