Parenting through the teen years often feels exhausting, doesn’t it? And in the exhaustion of dealing with the unknown and how it will all play out for our child, our happiness slips right out the door and just beyond our reach. 

Why is it that we are conditioned to feel happy only when life is going according to plan? Our fulfillment in life typically comes when the path we are on MATCHES with our belief that we are where we should be. And when those two things don’t add up, we begin to feel stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and even depression. 

When you are worried about your child, the wheels of your mind spin into overdrive while you imagine every possible scenario that may play out.  It’s hard not to be on edge, wondering when the next phone call with bad news will come in. But wait, does this mean we need to put happiness or gratitude on hold until our teen is out of crisis?

Well, in my own journey, there was one thing I did that made a big difference in how I navigated through the challenging teen years, and it has been the difference maker for each parent I’ve coached or mentored since starting this program. What is it? Simply put, when happiness is not available, we must choose to pursue meaningfulness. 

As parents of children involved in the court system we waste a lot of energy and time believing that things will only be better when _____________ (you fill in the blank).

Your “blank” may sound like one of these: 

 “I’d be happy if he would just go to school like he’s supposed to,” or 

Life would be so much easier if she could just find a different group of friends,” or 

“Our relationship will be better once he starts being more respectful.

And even, “If I could just get through one day without a call from the school, I might be able to relax.”

Without thinking, we tie our happiness and, sadly, our peace to situations that are outside of our control.

Slowly we begin taking ownership of those scenarios, and soon enough, they factor into how we see ourselves as parents. We hop on the hamster wheel to chase the elusive ideal life we want for our child, and the next thing you know we find ourselves going round and round, but no matter how fast we are moving, no progress is actually being made. 

It’s tough to let go of control or should I say, perceived control. It’s scary and it feels completely counterintuitive to what we should be doing as parents, but as the saying goes, “the cave you fear entering will hold the treasure you seek.” When we shift from chasing happiness or even controlled order to pursuing meaningfulness it requires something of us. It requires “ACCEPTANCE.”

See, acceptance is the very foundation of the emotional stability we are so desperately craving.

To learn more about what acceptance looks like in this season, listen to Unyielding Episode 18 Finding Meaning in the Mess.

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