This man has worked with mid-adolescents for 30 years. Thirty years ago, our society only had adolescents for a period of 36 months. By 2004 (10 YEARS ago) it had stretched into 15 years of adolescents and he went about to find out why.
What he discovered disturbs me. The entire book is pretty much dedicated to the fact that adults have abandoned their children, emotionally, by the time they child is 12 and yet expect their child to trust them and to respect them unconditionally. Some parents even demand that the child respect and trust them, yet how can the child? They were pretty much left on their own to figure out the world by themselves so the adult could go off and have their own life.
Take a moment and absorb that, Reader. Read it over again. Please tell me why you think that it's not possible to be your child's friend and fan while also being able to place appropriate boundaries when needed? I can't find any reason why it's not possible.
The fact that many parents do not even see this as a possibility breaks my heart. I am Honey Bunny's biggest fan and leave her well enough alone unless she is in danger of hurting herself or others, then I step in and put down boundaries. And guess what, Reader? Because we are FRIENDS, she listens to me and HEARS my boundary with love and concern, not retaliation or control.
I'm here to tell you it IS TOTALLY POSSIBLE to be your teens best friend, biggest fan AND their safe place to come to and find an appropriate boundary. Honey Bunny suffers from depression and anxiety. We brought down her meds another 25 mg two weeks ago in hopes of starting to be able to graduate her off of them. She is taking a bunch of supplements and our ultimate goal is to get her off of medication and onto supplements as a life time intervention to her biology.
She was sick week 1 of the step-down and she was doing pretty well, but she also had some residual medication in her. The past 72 hours haven't been so good. She's been isolating, staring off into space, ignoring people or being rather snarky with her sister and I. I knew something was wrong. The hardest part was waiting for her to tell me. You see, when she's like that, I know if I push her to tell me it will become a power play and although I might ultimately "win" and get the answer, I will actually lose because I will lose her trust. Forcing someone to tell you something only creates a dynamic which is toxic to the relationship.
Last night, I could tell she was truly struggling. She was snarky to Boo Bear and was snarky to the puppy. I finally sat her down and asked her what was going on. I sat on her bed, my hand gently resting on her leg and waited for the answer. I had to ask a few times as she just wasn't there or clicking in. Finally, she admitted she was really struggling and needed her meds to be re-upped again. She is feeling defeated because every time we try to decrease them, this happens. She was feeling like a failure. The key here is to note she trust me to tell me. She did tell her boyfriend first, as that is the way with teens, they go to their friends first but that didn't stop her from coming to me. We sat on her bed, tears running down her face, while I gently wiped them away. No thoughts of being anything other than supportive occurred to me. No shaming. No condemning. She was coming to me with bare naked emotions.
I was proud of her for being honest with herself and me and we went downstairs, hand in hand, to up her meds right then. Not a big deal. An easy solution. And together, we faced her fears and her insecurities.
What I want you to hear, dear Reader, is that it IS possible to be their friend, their biggest fan and put down boundaries but it takes staying involved. It means staying clicked into their lives. It means keeping an open line of communication. It means always being there for them, even at 2am if they come in. It means starting when they are young, listening to everything they say and accepting every gift they give you (even if just a rock or pine cone) because they are giving you a piece of themselves and trusting you with it. How you handle those gifts, drawings, etc. is being watched. Everything you do is being watched as they grow up. Don't let them down, because if you do, you won't have their trust when you will need it the most
You can't walk into teenagehood, after abandoning them emotionally, and expect to be able to be their parent and put down respected boundaries. It just doesn't work. Attachment Parenting isn't about just being a parent until they are 12. It is about being an attached and involved parent...for life.