teen boy sunset

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

What if we didn’t take every darn thing in life so seriously? What if we did not analyze every word and nuance? What if, God forbid, we were not mindful every second of the day? As a person who defaults to living the well-examined life, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in ignorant bliss like others seem to do.

I saw a TedTalk once where a woman explained that having stress in our lives and believing stress does damage to our bodies increases our chances of death. The belief that stress damages our health adds to the damage of our health. Which made me think, all of my awareness regarding alostetic load and the epigenetic wounding trauma and stress cause, probably are adding to the alostetic load and epigenetic wounding in my body. Wouldn’t it be awesome if I could just turn off the knowledge and awareness and dumbly stumble through life?

Teens don’t care?

I’ve been dealing with emotions and fears about my relationship and level of connection I have with my oldest son. He leaves for college in the fall. I want to be close to him. I want him to feel secure and solid about our relationship.

He couldn’t care less. He rarely talks to me. Often does not respond to my texts. He even said he does not want me to drop him off at school. Most days, all I feel from him is rejection, which hurts and gives me stomach aches. Stomach aches I am sure are ruining my long-term health…

Avoidant attachment style? 

I spoke with my therapist about my son’s behavior. She said he is avoidantly attached and to let him go. I should stop putting so much energy into trying to connect with him.

Avoidantly attached people stifle emotions and strive for self-reliance because a primary relationship in their past (often with a parent) did not provide security and reliability. Naturally, I assume I am the reason for my son’s distancing and coldness.

Or typical teen? 

Enter Dr. Wendy Mogel, a clinical psychologist specializing in parent education and stress on children and adolescents. I first heard Dr. Mogel on Dax Shepard’s podcast, The Armchair Expert. Her calm, practical and humorous take on parenting is a breath of fresh air. She has a link to Over-parenting Anonymous on her website.;)

In Dr. Mogel’s book, The Blessing of a B Minus, she allays some of my fears and shame regarding my son’s behavior and our relationship. Dr. Mogel says rudeness, vanity, impulsiveness and carelessness are typical teenage behavior. Teens seek independence and ways to disconnect safely from us. If our teens are reasonably well-behaved with other adults and have nice friends, then they will be fine. Parents are the dog they get to kick after being nice and restrained all day at school or at their summer jobs.

Maybe we know too much

On the podcast with Dax Shepard, Dr. Mogel said she constantly tells the parents of her patients to be dumber. “Your kids are dumb, so you need to be dumb too.” It is so tempting to use our intellectual arguments and knowledge when dealing with relationships but not all problems resolve with logic. In some cases, the answer is to step back and let the natural process unfold.

The teenage brain is not fully developed until the ages of 24-29. Specifically, the prefrontal cortex the part of the brain that directs executive functions like planning and impulse control, is last to develop.

Dr. Mogel did a survey and found that kids most want their parents to stop worrying about them and relax. They also want their parents to listen to exactly what they are saying, instead of jumping ahead thinking about how to solve something or how something could go wrong.

Lightly child, lightly

older woman in sombrero

Photo by Alex Harvey 🤙🏻 on Unsplash

If we lighten up and keep our inner-turmoil and ambivalence to ourselves, they will relax and respect us more. They mostly need to know what the rules are and that we are there for them.

An accepting parent tries to guide a child toward great maturing, but tries not to panic at immature behavior, or take it too personally, or mistake it for a permanent character flaw.

Dr. Wendy Mogel

We can ease the situation by joking a little. Humor is a lovely source of relief for parents and children. Use it, but avoid snark. According to Dr. Mogel, snark is thinly disguised criticism.

Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig.  — Aldous Huxley, Island

Wisdom from a sage

I watched James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke episode with Paul McCartney this week. I encourage you to watch it for the joy of it. In the episode, they sing a rendition of the classic Beatle’s song, “Let It Be”. Paul McCartney wrote the song after a dream he had where his deceased mother came to him while he was worrying about life matters. Her words to him? Let it be.

As a sensitive person who believes her intuition is flawless, it is not easy to stop over-thinking and projecting. I love to treat every relationship snag as fodder for research, discussion and worry. Perhaps I should simply lighten up and let it be.

Are you over-analyzing? Over-parenting? What would happen if you could laugh and relax? 


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