I don’t write much about my son, now 15, out of respect for his privacy and journey to becoming a young man. But it’s not a secret among my friends that parenting a teen has been the hardest thing my husband and I have ever done. (I’m not embarrassed to admit that this weekend when we slipped away to dinner after a grueling day of negotiations with our son, the first question we asked each other at the restaurant was, “Are you having beer or wine?”)
When I was my son’s age, things between my parents and me were intense. In fact, we barely spoke (in their defense, raising three teens and four younger children had to be tough!). I didn’t feel seen or heard by my parents and most of our communication involved yelling and fighting about who was right.
So, when I navigate choppy waters with my son, I can quickly get caught in the grips of fear. It’s easy to find myself anchoring back to how disconnected I felt from my parents when I was my son’s age and how often we stayed stuck in a cycle of fear.
Most great spiritual teachers and traditions tell us, we only ever have two choices in how we approach our lives and day-to-day interactions: from fear or from love.
When relationships are viewed through the eyes of love, we:
• trust — and allow those we love to follow their unique path (even if we don’t agree);
• practice acceptance and let go (of homework struggles, of who’s right, and so on);
• listen from our hearts in our interactions and respond in the moment;
• communicate openly and are more receptive and flexible;
• come from a prosperity mindset and see there is always “enough” time, attention, space and resources;
• see everyone’s true essence, who they really are, not how they’re acting in the moment; and
• are able to feel more compassionate towards ourselves and others.
When relationships are viewed through the eyes of fear, we
• try to control, manipulate and micromanage people and situations by thinking we always know best;
• think things are good only when they’re going “our” way;
• operate from our heads and fall into over-thinking, criticizing and over-managing;
• become reactive and get easily triggered;
• react negatively and see problems first, instead of acknowledging what’s going well;
• come from a poverty mindset and feel like there is never enough;
• punish, judge, and isolate ourselves from others.
Reading these extremes, who wouldn’t want to choose love over fear when relating to those around us? We all want to feel open, free, generous and fully available to our loved ones. But often, this is hard. It’s easy to fall into old habitual patterns –like feeling victimized, righteous, resentful or seeing what’s wrong in a situation without acknowledging what’s right. Choosing love over fear takes vigilance and a willingness to consciously choose this path, moment to moment. Again, and again.
After a tense morning with my son today and being on the receiving end of some really hurtful, unkind words, I paused. While I could have easily picked up the phone and called my husband to hash out the before-school drama, instead, I texted my teen, “I believe in you and I love you.” Because I realize that not only is it a gift for me to tap into the power of forgiveness and the reminder that we can always course-correct, I want to model for him that we can all choose to drop our fear-filled backpacks and step into a lighter way of being. We can choose love over fear (read more).
Want support for shifting out of fear and into connection?
- Schedule me to speak to—or organize a retreat for—your organization, company or team on resiliency, stress management and mindfulness. Learn more.
- Explore the idea of facilitating or joining our Personal Renewal Groups for women (in 10 countries worldwide); becoming a RTA-Certified Facilitator can be a great way to support your own growth, empower women locally and learn the art of self-care. Our online training is $100 off through Oct. 31st and includes private coaching with me!
- Self-employed and live in Texas? Join me and other soulful women Oct. 20 at Soma Vida Work-Life Balance & Wellness Center for UNLEASHED ATX for seasoned business owners. Our theme is Cultivating Discernment: How to Become Your Own Business Advisor. Learn more; early bird rate good through today, Oct. 10.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/speaker/author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about living intentionally, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.