Trying to break through and reconnect with your lightspeed shapeshifting, surly adolescent often proves impossible. And it pains us, the mere cognition of "losing" them. To us, and for us, parent-child symbiosis is simply a given. It's inherent and, ultimately - beyond unconditional. The love we have for them doesn't know measurement units. It's immeasurable. Despite all that, we still find ourselves standing before an unyielding momentum, an avalanche of impulse, and silent treatments. "How do I get through?" - We are way past "Open, sesame" (you know, just like back in the day when they were curious and amazed by magic, and everything seemed so easy)—time to grow up. - Us included. Worry not if you're out of tricks and ideas; you can always find ways to connect with your teenager.
As our children mature, the parent-child bond organically evolves; ours is to understand the fluctuating relationship and provide a vast emotional space that feels nurturing and safe. "I don't remember my generation being deliberately distant and cantankerous with their parents." - times change, and so does the definition of adolescence. There are fewer rules today, as we witness individualism being put on a pedestal. - and it's not a bad thing. Not at all. Raging hormones are never the only culprit. Adolescents are hardwired to create emotional distance. Why? Because - creating an autonomous space is paramount for healthy development. Surely, it may not be all rainbows and glitter, but please remember: they don't know what they're doing. The need for boundary testing is natural and should be accepted. That's how independence is made.
Does any of us, really?
Leave the gavel at the door
Let's be completely honest; you and me. Parents make terrific judges. When your teen flies off the handle and presents you with a "temper tantrum" continuum, reaching for the gavel only makes sense. It's okay. We're scared too. Adolescence is an all-dreading experience for everyone involved. A room full of "deer in the headlights." So, what is it that makes them silent? Is it really on them? Solely? How big is our piece of the "culpability" cake? - The truth is adolescents shut down to prevent parental judgment. Porcupine method. Can't touch this. Naturally, our children's guilt and shame threshold is set pretty low. (and that's the whole idea behind growing up; we work towards debunking the embedded premises about the self and strive for self-acceptance and self-love - ideally).
So, yes, of course, they're scared of our reaction. "Mom, Dad, I drink. Skip school. I had unprotected sex. I experimented with substances." Children dread being lectured. (needless to say, structure and rules are there for a reason.) No matter how seemingly independent, our teenagers yearn for guidance. However, if you're trying to connect with your teenager (the unresponsive kind), try a different approach. Leave judgment at the door. Try to validate their emotions and inner processes: trial and error. Allow mistakes.
All healthy communication rides on our ability to listen. And actively so. Yes, it's hard—more than hard. The innate reflex to dissect, investigate, draw intricate charts and graphs, and give unsolicited advice is superior to all parental communication reflexes. We are their teachers, their beacons, and as such essential entities, our role must be respected and utilized at all times. - And that's how we contribute to the bond's deterioration, albeit unintentionally. Parents seldom listen. They talk. And then they talk some more. - Additionally, we're always right. Right? - The next thing you know, you're talking to the world's most avoidant clam—door slam hour. Let's fix it. Turn the scenario in your favor. Mutual favor. Instead of enforcing monologue as our means of communication, we should turn our selective apparatus into a gentle, cheerleading ear. - and the fearful clam will open.
Relocation (especially if abrupt) can cause familial havoc, as it creates room for deepening insecurities in adolescents. They will fight back even if you do your best to make the transition to Fullerton, CA, seamless, even if you look for expert Fullerton movers to do the heavy lifting. - Teenagers always win the grudge Olympics. - that is unless we make active listening our familial modus.
How do you get a quiet teenager to open up? Let's think. As with all relationships, finding common ground is paramount for connection maintenance. How do we engage our distant, disinterested adolescents? - By engaging about their interests. So, what does it mean? We're not saying, oh, sure, let's do Fortnite. I'll call in sick tomorrow morning. Bonding time. - No. Being curious about their current interests is enough to create a meaningful connection with your child. (yes, it can be a bit strenuous, especially if you can't seem to find anything appealing about their passion choices. You can and will persevere.) If you have a quiet one, taking an interest in their likes and passions can open the communication gates. Even the banalest things can help. Watch TikTok with them. See what makes them laugh. Share yours. Exchange.
Remember, getting them to open up about something important can provide the necessary space for information exchange without the "We need to talk. Sit down." discourse.
To connect with your teenager, practice "US" time. No phones. The good, old, analog day out. "But, they're glued to their iPhones. They don't communicate coherently or make plans with their parents." True. But, try. The enticing game is afoot. Sit down and brainstorm together. What do you enjoy? What do they enjoy most? That new Venezuelan place could be worth a visit. Game night? See a movie. Let them choose. Be proactive. Suppose they say "no" to every little thing, no hard feelings. Ask them to list all activities they'd typically engage in with friends. Make it a weekly thing. Hit and miss. Whatever you do, don't quit. Keep on trying. - They want you to. (even if they're terrible at showing it)
"It takes work". Yes, we know. There are no shortcuts; there is no "a match made in heaven." Synastry charts? Destined to be? – No. We know better than that. All romantic relationships (the harmonious, thriving ones) are indeed built with utter precision. There is no wiggle room; there's only love. Dedication. And work. If you love someone, you work for it. You don't wait for the affair's demise; blame it on the universe and its intricate aspects, conjunctions, and retrogrades. Above all things, romantic love is about self-accountability – and self-love. Mutual respect. Autonomy. Freedom. And a healthy sexual apparatus. – well, that's a given. So, how do we make love last? How do we grow to become the archetype of unwavering love? The perfect model and the sculptor. – The game is afoot. Let's talk; this is all you need to know about the habits of highly effective couples.
It's not about working hard
No two couples are alike; each relationship is to be viewed as a distinct micro-universe. "The rules" do not apply here, and, needless to say, there is no "standard model". Human connectedness is as vast as it is complex, an intriguing coordinate system where tautology doesn't stand a chance. However, there are common denominators (as we are, after all, human). A common thread emerges against all odds. And it starts with self-awareness. People who can embrace a somewhat radical approach to life and love, be it challenges or opportunities (it's all in mind, no), the versatile, flexible symbiotic types can stand the test of time. Why? Because they are able and more than happy to grow together rather than apart. Always at the brink of divorce? No, not for effective couples. Mindfulness is a game changer.
1 Of course, we are different
"I married/I'm dating the wrong person." It's not me; it's them. We are too different. Personalities: juxtaposition. Okay, we can roll with that. However, personality differences are real and should be our top priority homework when in a relationship. If we have and exhibit clashing personality styles, it's only natural to have little to no capacity to accommodate these differences. As it happens, one subtle discrepancy leads to another, and before we know it, we have a mismatch avalanche on our hands. Frustration, anger, and annoyance tidal wave. We misinterpret things; we take them too personally. We declare war. "Disrespect, that's what it is." But is it true? We are just different, and for all mortal couples: the end approaches. On the other hand, highly effective couples remain unrattled. And ever-curious. They take time to get to know their partner's true colors without the fight or flight response.
Why do we put our friendships on a pedestal? Mutual contribution; a game of squash. Got my back? – Got your back. – Vice versa. Till death do us part. So why should "the laws" of romantic relationships be viewed differently? – One of the most rewarding habits of highly effective couples is learning to listen. And be heard in return. A thriving romantic symbiosis knows how to make the loving individual feel important. "You matter. Your day matters. Tell me all." Responsiveness is vital to a long-lasting relationship. Experts from verifiedmovers.com share: "Recently divorced individuals make up a good percentage of our current clientele." – And it figures. In fact, without creating a meaningful, deep connection (engaging in our partner's inner world, idiosyncratic tendencies, fears, desires, and interests), the relationship is not saved. Abort mission. Simple as that.
Instead, try open-ended questions. Say no to generic "how was your day, honey?" Be specific. Show genuine interest.
3 Pillow dialogue
We could draw a map of their body's every single molecule and call it stargazing. But we don't. And somehow, for whatever reason, we think intimacy talk is off-limits. "I feel comfortable with this. I don't really enjoy that. We could/should shake things up." Puritan of us? Perhaps. Highly effective couples don't shy away from what we would call "a looming dread". They are vulnerable. Open. They are generous with information. Both ways. They accept suggestions. And, most of all, they negotiate and advocate. Shaming? Non-existent. Everything goes. With open lines of communication, highly effective couples are able to attend to their partner's needs without ever disregarding their own. Equality. Open sonic pathways. "I hear you. Let's work on it."
4 Meaning: shared
If we take shared meaning out of the equation, who are we as a couple? Draw the symbiotic trajectory. A symphony? Or perpetual discord? The term "shared meaning" can be defined as shared life perspectives, history, and values. If a couple possesses the desirable trait, they will resolve any impending conflict.
Additionally, it also improves the solution pool's success rate. Effective couples continuously work to develop a sense of shared meaning by adjusting the entity's (i.e., the relationship's) trajectory according to personal growth and harmony. Plus and minuses included. In today's spiraling world, staying connected can present quite a challenge. (alas, so many things to attend to)
All the same, there are things we can do to improve our relationship's health; we introduce rituals. No cellphones during dinner, no disassociating, numbing Netflix marathons. Let's keep it simple. The good old talk. And being present at the moment. It's all it takes.
5 I have needs
Frustration rides high when the partner cannot identify (and fulfill) our needs. And, to be fair, we like to keep them on their toes. More often than not, the seductive dance turns into a courtship of king cobras. Why aren't you picking up the signs? Hear my tune. It's plain to see. But is it? (remember, they're not wrong, we're just different) Subtle cues? Trouble in paradise. Unlike the grudge bunch, effective couples can and will communicate their needs openly without turning them into unnecessary lectures.
Furthermore, direct and honest people can convey and express the subtlest of needs – and the message will stick. To avoid any confusion – one topic at a time. Be sure to summarize and achieve mutual nods as you reach the needed resolution.
Adopt the habits of highly effective couples and pause to appreciate your partner. Think positive narrative. Why do you still love them? Remember: the strength of a couple's friendship is a definitive predictor of their future.
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