Remember the day when your teen changed from being a sweet, lovable, engaging friendly kid into an emotional whirlwind of sulks and door slamming tantrums? It can happen overnight as newly minted hormones fluctuate and expectations change. Teens can become belligerent and emotionally demanding as they test the expansion of power, trust and exploration. And it goes right against what we though we knew about our child.
Unknowingly, what we’ve done, is to take a snapshot of them from before, and we’re working from that snapshot — which has suddenly become no longer relevant.
Where are you in all this? How can you not get squished in the middle of the sandwich of aging parents and growing needy kids? How can you avoid being run ragged emotionally and physically with everyone demanding your attention, time and energy? Baby Boomers are most often the sandwich generation — having to deal with both sides at a time when both sides are going through often deep emotional roller coasters.
The solution is based on the The Circle Protocol, — the unspoken contract or agreement with have with every relationship.(it removes the me-you from contentious situations and the focus is put on the relationship itself — the usually unspoken agreement between you, me and the relationship— the third circle) First step is to work on your own relationship. Know your own values, understand and start living and operating out of them. That way your boundaries will be firm enough to be comfortable in your skin enough to be tested, and you’ll feel stronger emotionally, and ready to take on other peoples’ roller coaster of emotion.
Once you’ve worked on your own relationship with yourself, and you feel comfortable with it, then approach your teen with the idea of writing an up to date relationship contract with you and the rest of the family. What does the teen absolutely want, need and is prepared to give in that relationship. What are their values and priorities over the next 6 months or so. As a parent, it can be hard to not drop into the old patterns of ‘shoulds’ or ‘must’s. If this new contract is going to work, it has to be honored and visited every other month or to check in.
The benefit of this protocol is that it gives the teen some choices, some power to design their own life, relationships and responsibility. It’s a learning process for everyone, but if you give it time and support, it will be a gift you give your teen for the rest of their life. They will use it with all relationships in their future, in career, friendships and love relationships.
Does it work every time — no, but nothing does, not even Aspirin! But it does work most of the time, and with practice boundaries become stronger, you get your emotional power back. You’ll sleep better and you won’t feel any guilt!
Originally published at medium.com