We always love to hear stories from parents who have successfully navigated parenting teenagers. So we’re really grateful to Alison for looking back on her years as a mum to teens and sharing her experiences. It’s particularly fascinating to read how training as a counsellor helped her solve parenting issues. Here’s ‘my parenting story’ by Alison.
Hi, I’m Alison and I was a stay at home mum of three. I loved being a mum but reached a point in my life where I felt I needed more and longed to escape my role as cook, cleaner, taxi driver and general ‘doer of everything’. Here’s my story about how I did just that while my now not-so-little children found their own path to success, of which I am truly proud.
Borrowing from your Parenting Teens Q&A idea of using three words that describe my parenting style, I’d go for… disciplined, loving and winging it! When I asked my children I had no response from my eldest, so I’m not sure what that tells me, lol. My daughter responded with: patient, caring and disciplined. I’ll take that!
Parenting three children
All my three children are individual, with their own strengths and qualities. I soon found out that what worked for one didn’t always work for the other. This was the beginning of my realisation that what I thought was helpful, wasn’t always! This was, and still is, continually changing as they grew and reached a new stage in their development. When the eldest reached every milestone my confidence grew and I thought ‘Yeah, I’ve got this”, only to be disheartened to realise when it was the next one’s turn that they needed a completely different approach.
Mental heath has entered our house on many times and it can come well-disguised. I have questioned myself many times, ‘Where was I going wrong?’, ‘Have I really done such a bad job as a mum?’, ‘How can I help them?’ I have learnt – and yes it has been painful at times – that healing comes from within and I am only their guide, a soundboard for them to express themselves.
How helping me helped them
I have also been on an inspirational journey of self-discovery. Six years ago I started on a counselling course. It’s not been easy but the skills it has given me to listen and not try to fix have been invaluable. To empathise with their troubled worlds and not shut them down with, ‘don’t worry, you’ll get over it’ or ‘come on, dry your tears’. To provide a space where anything goes and they can talk about how they are feeling without judging. It isn’t always easy to do. I have learnt it’s not a criticism of my parenting but a discovery of learning how to help them process their own emotions and what that feels like.
I try to be as honest and non-reactive as possible when they ask that awkward question, even if I’m squirming inside. This is key, because they will notice how you respond and that will set the scene for all further awkward conversations. So it’s like ‘yeah I’m cool with that’ and then go and rock in a corner! Lol.
The biggest thing I will take away from being a mum is to enjoy every moment, good and bad. Yes, even when they won’t sleep and they keep you up all night. Especially because this doesn’t change when they become teenagers. The difference is you know where they are when they are babies! So just sit back and enjoy the ride and be there for them.
Thank you again, Alison, for your parenting story. Wise words! We know readers of our blog will really appreciate them.
If you’d like to read more from parents to teens, our Parenting Teens Q&A blogs are a lot of fun – find them in the Parenting Teens section of our blog.
Louise & Anna x