I work with struggling teens, and their parents at a company called Vive (www.vivenow.com). When a family enters, our program, the whole system is riddled with fear. Risky behaviors are involved which can activate deep fears in parents. Unfortunately, during these times, our children need us to be safe emotional containers more than ever. Working with our own fears around what their behaviors trigger in us is mandatory.
Fear-based example: Johnny, age 15, comes home one night and doesn’t even say Hello before he races up to his room. Mom is taken aback because Johnny has always touched in when arriving home. She knows something is a off so she goes upstairs and goes into Johnny’s room. He has his headphones on and doesn’t hear her. As she enters she smells something and immediately realizes that it is alcohol. In a flash, heat rises up in her body and fear takes over. The next thing you know, she is screaming at Johnny drilling him on where he has been and what he has been doing. He lies, which sets her off even more, and she grabs him, shaking him and telling him that he will be grounded for the next week. Johnny, screams at her, that he hates her and shoves her out the door slamming it in her face. Fear meets fear and all that happens is a HUGE explosion and a movement away from each other.
Love-based example: Johnny, age 15, comes home one night and doesn’t even say Hello before he races up to his room. Mom is taken aback because Johnny has always touched in when arriving home. She feels her heart racing and watches as her mind goes to all the negative possibilities. Before going up to check on Johnny, she takes the time to check all of her stories and takes a moment to calm. She remembers, that no matter what is going on, that the relationship with Johnny is the number one priority. She decides to give him some space until she is able to find her own curiosity and go up in a loving state.
Later, when she is feeling connected with her love, she goes up and knocks on Johnny’s door. He says, “go away”. She again, feels her hurt inside, and makes a move to stay connected with her love. She tells Johnny, through the door, that she loves him and was just checking on him. She tells him, that when he is ready, she would love to check in. She gives him the space and the energetic connection of love that let’s Johnny find his own way and know that mom is a safe place when he is ready to share.
When our children begin to experiment with risky behaviors it is critical, that we hold our own judgments and fears, not projecting them onto our children, so that we can support our children in finding their own way.