02 November, 2011

What to say to a teen?

"It would be interesting for you to talk to her" a friend tells me, in all seriousness. His high school daughter has found herself in an unhealthy relationship. She communicates with her parents, but knows that her parents would like to see her out of this situation. I have already told the mother that I would be happy and willing to do whatever I can to support this teen, though I am not sure just how I can help other than just being there.
My experience with unhealthy relationships is limited, but strong as both these parents know. But I endured an unhealthy and manipulative relationship for years without really allowing myself to see it. I am not sure I would have seen it had someone pointed it out to me at any point during that time either. This isn't to say I didn't "know" the suffering I was experiencing. it just means that I refused to see it because seeing it, realizing it, would mean that I had to face it and do something about it. And in my case that meant recognizing that one of my core values was more based on my own experience than reality.
Over the years, I lost myself to a great extent. I stopped trusting my intuition and allowed myself to fall into a cycle of boosting another based on their idea of love all the while realizing that it wasn't mine.
Emotionally drained, physically unhealthy... I woke one day to find myself without secure boundaries and manipulated and involved with a passive agressive personality. I found myself choosing that core value over personal integrity and believing that I was doing what was best for my child.
With all this in mind, I wondered what I could share or what I could or can do for a teen who is trusting and entering this phase of her life with an open heart?I have thought about what I give my own daughter; what I would give her in a similar situation?
Would I share with her my experience?
Would I gently ask her questions to help her work through what she is experiencing and what she wants to experience?
Would I ensure, to the best of my ability, that she knows that she is loved and supported no matter what?
I would do all of these things, and I would hope that she has learned from my experiences. I would hope that, unlike me, she has the ability to trust her heart, her intuition, and her boundaries.
yet, without experiences, we don't always know the need for boundaries or where those boundaries lie. We don't always clear our minds to hear our intuition or learn to trust our hearts when they say "jump" or "leave" until we are faced with the situation. And we often don't know what it is to allow people to take responsibility for themselves until we are in a situation that asks us to be emotionally responsible for them.
And what do I say to a teen in the midst of a tough experience?
Maybe I say nothing; I listen, I support, and I demonstrate trust and care.


BigLittleWolf said...

Oh T.E., there's just no easy answer to any of this dealing with teens stuff, except that gentle listening you mention, the unconditional support, the demonstration of trust and care.

Sometimes it's all about listening. And sometimes it's about planting the seeds of questions and letting them know they don't have to have an answer - or an answer for you - only to let the question roll around in their heads, knowing there isn't a single right way to most issues.

I send you good thoughts in trusting your own intuition, which I suspect is far better than you give yourself credit for.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi TE .. it's a challenging situation .. because you have her parents to consider too ... I guess listening - she won't understand your situation ..

I read recently that a child/young person doesn't have the knowledge base we have .. they weigh things relative to themselves without the years of experience that we accumulate. They're only 'interested' in themselves - totally logical .. especially in this situation ...

I wonder whether her peers are helping, interested etc .. whether there is a school student liaison 'prefect' .. who is in tune with what is going on ..

I'm sure your support, encouragement etc will be invaluable to her and her parents .. Big Wolf says it well ..

All the very best Hilary

Sara said...


It's been awhile, but when I read this post, I had to respond. If anyone can talk to this teen, you can. Perhaps, this was one of the reasons you experienced what you did. It gives you the wisdom to honestly share with someone who might be heading down the same path as you.

This teen may not listen NOW, but she will see how you've survived and thrived. She will see your example of how you said NO when you really needed to...and how you found yourself again and made yourself even stronger.

She will see your gifted daughter and know there are choices in this world. You've made some very difficult ones, but come out like a diamond, strong and beautiful. She will see that:~)