Surviving (Your Child's) Adolescence

Welcome to the hard half of parenting

New Year's Resolutions for Parents and Adolescents?

Some suggestions for self-management that might be helpful in the new year

The playful question was: “From beneficial efforts you've seen parents and adolescents make with themselves and with each other, what might be some psychological Resolutions worthy of consideration for the New Year?" In no particular order of importance, a few possibilities came to mind.

1: SPEAK UP: Everybody needs to declare who they are, what they want and don’t want. No one can read your mind. The best spokesperson for you is you. MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN.

2: GIVE A LISTEN. The gift of listening is letting someone know they’re worth your time and undivided attention and are not alone. HEAR WHAT THE OTHER PERSON HAS TO SAY.

3: FIGHT TO UNDERSTAND. Treat conflict not as a battle for control, but as an opportunity to communicate about a disagreement. TREAT EACH OTHER AS AN INFORMANT, NOT AN OPPONENT.

4: CHECK SUPPOSITIONS OUT. False assumptions about what each other may be thinking, feeling, or intending can lead to serious misunderstandings. BEFORE REACTING, ASK WHAT IS GOING ON.

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5: BE RESPONSIBLE. Totally fault the other for your problem and you become a victim, while they become a villain. Claim your share in what happened. OWN YOUR PART, DON’T BE A BLAMER.

6: KEEP TRYING. Constant effort guarantees no outcome, but it’s your best shot for success. Persistence keeps possibility alive. Quitting kills your chances. DON’T GIVE UP ON YOURSELF OR EACH OTHER.

7: DON’T COMPLAIN. Knock yourself or each other, and you or they will end up feeling worse. PROPOSE A BETTER ALTERNATIVE.

8: SERVE OTHERS. When feeling down about your life or are taking it for granted, contribute help to others. Be grateful for all you have received and repay the favor. GIVE BACK.

9: RISE TO ADVERSITY. Bad times can clarify what matters most, challenge your resourcefulness, and teach how to endure or overcome. AT LIFE’S WORST, ACT YOUR BEST.

10: BE CONTENT. Go after what you want if that is what you want, but don’t make getting all you want a condition for feeling happy. FOR EVERYONE, SOME HAS TO BE ENOUGH.

11: CHANGE THE FUTURE. If caught in a habit of harmful behavior, remember that most habits are too strong for promises to break. To change tomorrow, practice acting differently today. NOW IS LATER.

12: INTEGRITY MATTERS. To feel good, do right. Match your actions to your values and you will be glad; betray your values and you will be sorry. LIVE ACCORDING TO YOUR BEST BELIEFS.

13: GO WITH THE FLOW. If you can’t alter events or circumstances you wish were not so, learn to live with what you’ve got and make the best of it you can. ADAPT TO WHAT YOU CANNOT CHANGE.

14: MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS. Unless the other person is harming themselves or you or someone else, are ignorant of consequences their choices bring, or want help, don’t interfere. LET EACH OTHER BE.

15: MEAN WHAT YOU SAY. Do as you promised and you will earn respect. Break your commitments and you will lose trust. Be truthful in speech and deed. KEEP YOUR WORD.

16: MAKE UP YOUR MIND. Thinking good thoughts can help you feel happy, thinking bad thoughts can make you feel sad. Your mindset is partly up to you. THINK HOW YOU WANT TO FEEL.

17: EXPECT THE BEST, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. Anticipate the good, but don’t set expectations unrealistically high. PREDICT THE POSITIVE AND THE POSSIBLE.

18: BE COURTEOUS. Small acts of consideration like listening, empathy, and help can have symbolic value when they represent Respect, Sensitivity, and Care. LITTLE KINDNESSES CAN MEAN A LOT.

19: STRIVE FOR COMPLETION. Don’t carry through with what you start and you won’t accomplish what you want. You’ll spin your wheels from acting inconsistently. FINISH WHAT YOU BEGIN.

20: BE TIMELY. Delay can be a bad bargain when used to borrow time. Demands you put off in the present only come due later on. The more tasks you postpone; the more future pressure you create. DO IT NOW.

21: BE SYSTEMATIC. Don’t lose or forget what’s important. Disorder can be disabling. Develop strategies to keep track of what you have and have to do. Creating order is a life skill everybody needs. GET ORGANIZED.

22: FORGIVE. Holding on to anger toward yourself or others is punishing to do. Relieve the burden of guilt or resentment with forgiveness. LET HARD FEELINGS GO.

23: DEVOTE YOURSELF. Invest your dedicated care and efforts in what activities and people truly matter to you the most. LOVE IS THE BEST YOU CAN DO.

Finally, resolve to keep your resolutions few, since the more you make, the less you are likely to fulfill. And treat resolutions realistically -- not as acts of will for producing assured results, but as reminders about how you'd like to grow.

Onward, into the New Year! Of course, comment with any corrections and add whatever resolutions make sense to you. Together, we can grow a list.

For more about parenting adolescents, see my book, “SURVIVING YOUR CHILD’S ADOLESCENCE” (Wiley, 2013.) Information at: www.carlpickhardt.com

Next week’s entry: Adolescence and Death of a Close Friend

 

Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D., is a psychologist in Austin, Texas. His most recent books are: The Connected Father, The Future of Your Only Child, and Stop Screaming.

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