Inside: How a heart-centered approach to parenting teens can improve your relationship, reduce anxiety, and manage your emotions.
As moms, it feels like we live 24/7 in a state of high emotions: our heart space.
We’re always trying to do our best for our kids and get things right while letting love guide us. Feely things are constantly ebbing and flowing through our insides like the tide.
I get it.
I thought I was a heart-centered mom, too, until I realized I wasn’t. At least not all the time. I tend to log a lot of hours in my head. And when we are in our head, we can’t be in our heart.
When our mind runs, the bulk of our attention and focus is on the past and future. We expend inordinate amounts of energy regretting what already happened and worrying about what’s to come. The emotional wrangling tied to our fretting only adds to the drain on our reserves.
The Teen Years Put Parents in a Sense of Constant High Alert
During the teen years, the pull to analyze all the moving parts of our kid’s rapidly changing moods and behaviors is strong. We can’t help but second-guess our parenting decisions and wonder what the heck we’re supposed to do next.
The struggle is real. Not to mention exhausting.
What Does Heart-Centered Mean?
Stress, feeling overwhelmed, and not having our actions aligned with our true deeper emotions creates a feeling of chaos and distress.
In today’s complicated and overly-competitive world, we often get caught up in theoretical dilemmas, such as keeping up with the Joneses, getting left behind, or missing out. When you parent from fear, anxiety, worry, control, or pressure of “what will others think,” you are out of alignment, which causes stress to yourself and your child.
On the flip side, when you parent from your heart, using your value and belief system based on unconditional love and acceptance of your child, you are naturally decreasing your own and your child’s stress levels.
Essentially, it’s parenting your unique child based on your family’s unique needs.
When you are heart-centered, you listen to your feelings as information without letting them control your every move.
How to Use Heart-Centered Parenting for Raising Teens and Tweens
So how do we remain heart-centered? How do we stay present in the moment in front of us and resist the urge to obsess over all the turbulence and uncertainty of this teenage season?
Here are some things I do to help me remember my center:
Notice when you are resisting what is
You’ll know when you are in your head and not in your heart when you are in a dispute with reality. If you find yourself complaining, angry, or stressed out, it’s a sign you are resisting what is–the things out of your control.
These frustrations aren’t bad; they are helpful. Our true nature is love and peace, so any moments of tension are a signal or white flag that something inside us needs to heal or needs more clarity/perspective.
Start noticing where you clench in family life. Move into your heart space and breathe into the areas of your body that feel constricted by negative emotions.
Ask yourself what is going on. What is the lesson?
When you create space around the situation and continue to expand your perspective from your heart center, eventually, the intensity of the frustration lessons.
This gives you more mental and emotional energy to respond to life by doing the next right thing. When we wrangle with reality in our heads, we magnify the problem and have a more difficult time seeing a solution. My mother-in-law’s wisdom is to ask yourself, “Is what I’m upset about going to matter in 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5 days, or 5 weeks? If the answer is no, let it go.” Let your heart swallow it whole.
Practice breathing from the heart intentionally
Living from your heart center becomes more natural when you set aside time to be there consciously. And a natural way to practice connecting with our heart is through the breath.
According to the HeartMath Institute, heart-focused breathing is about directing your attention to the heart area and breathing a little more deeply than normal.
It’s important to remember that this is not an additional task to put on our to-do list. . We’re breathing no matter what, so paying attention to what keeps us alive is an easy add-on to our routine.
Find some time in the morning before you get out of bed, while driving, on a walk, or before bed to practice breathing in and out of your heart space. If you feel comfortable, connect with this space by placing the palm of your hand on your chest. Just allow yourself to experience your heartbeat drumming your life. Imagine how this very heart breathed life into your child in the womb.
Allow yourself to get lost in the joy of that loving bond, especially if it feels strained and drained during this teen season. While you’re at it, find some love for the amazing job you are doing raising your kids. You deserve it.
Typically, HeartMath recommends that you breathe for about 5 to 6 seconds and breathe out 5 to 6 seconds. Be sure your breathing is smooth, unforced, and comfortable. Although this is not difficult to do, It may take a little time to become used to it, but eventually, you will establish your own natural rhythm.
Say no to outcome happiness and yes to the joy of the journey
Living from the heart center means doing our best to let go of our expectations and laundry list of ‘shoulds’ when it comes to parenting. If we depend on certain outcomes and need things to unfold a certain way to feel happiness and content, welp, we’re gonna be disappointed.
Everyone’s map of the world is different, including our teens. No matter how big of a master plan we construct in our minds for how life should pan out, we can’t control the players or the result. We can only control ourselves and how we respond to the journey.
The journey is where the joy lies. That’s what’s real. All the stories and narratives in our minds are potentials to which we best not become too attached. But when we stay heart-centered and find gratitude for the gift of having children at all, it’s easier to ride the waves and find our way.
This is all about looking beyond the facades, the banter, and the crunchiness of your teen and allowing yourself to see their goodness in every situation.
When you get into your heart space, it’s much easier to layer down beneath the outer personality and connect to the essence of your child.
LOVE is all there is. The rest is a masquerade of pain, patterns, conditioning, and defense mechanisms mucking up their happy place. When we have the fortitude to see through these veils and connect to the LOVE, magic happens.
It Starts With You, the Parent
It starts by seeing yourself this way.
Your true self is LOVE, too, layered down beneath your masks, shadows, conditioning, and unresolved trauma.
Embrace your essence and let your light shine. Gulp down grace like it’s your job and pour it all over your teen. Discover your love language and help your teen understand theirs, too.
These are challenging years for both of you as you figure out who you are in your new roles and manage all the emotional upheaval these changes bring.
But together, you’ll figure it out and love each other even more on the other side.
Are you looking to have a better relationship with your teen? We love this book, Parenting Teens with Love and Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood, by Jim Fay.
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