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Q: Allana, my youngest is entering high school next year and we just received military orders to move. He is freaking out. How can we get him on the same page and excited about the move?
A: Maybe you can’t. So, your son is about to go into high school. Friends are a big deal–a super big deal! Whatever you resist and push against, you’re just going to get resistance back. So, I would first really get him. Let him know you understand him. Have an open discussion with him and tell him that you understand. Say things such as, Of course, you’re freaking out. Anybody going into ninth grade would be freaking out, you know. When you’re about to go into high school and you’ve been with your friends and now you’ve got to move, I totally get it. I understand it. Pour it on authentically until he can hear because right now he can’t hear. He’s thinking “no, no, no, no, no.” Or perhaps she, I suppose. I don’t even know. You just said you’re youngest.
So, at that point, I would start to tell stories about when things in your life didn’t go the way you wanted and how you resisted. Let him know that you were sure it was going to be horrible and then these unexpected miracles happened. You know it felt like it was against you but it was really for you. Life is weird that way, you know. Start to tell some stories. They’ll be fishy like they know what you’re doing but at least they’ll start to come around.
And then, I would really like to get truthful about choices. Are you OK with them living with somebody else for all of high school? If you’re not, say look I really considered letting you stay living with so-and-so and then give them your real honest answer of why you chose that they come with you. Let them know that you chose to keep the family together and that not everything in life is always easy peasy lemon squeezy. Sometimes we have to do what’s hard to have a life that’s easy. And sometimes when we just do what’s easy, we have a life that’s hard. That’s a quote by Les Brown. That quote is in my son’s room. When my son was seven years old, he met Les and got a picture. He put this great man’s wise words on the wall in his college room. Yeah, this is a really super big lesson but not one to go at like you gotta do it, you better be happy about it. Good luck. Okay, be prepared with plenty of compassion, understanding, and allowance.
Then, what would it take to make it better for him or her? How could you start to get excited about this but not sprinkles on top of the ice cream kind of shit? (it never works, ever) You know, I’ve never done full-on family counseling. I’ve certainly done lots of couples counseling and singles counseling, etc. I have worked with very young kids whose parents have hired me. They’re 16-, 17-, or 18-years old or any age before they’re 21 years old. However, I’ve never worked with the family. I wonder if there would be any way that I could support your family and just let this child be heard. I want to be a parenting counselor. Perhaps I can meet with you guys on a phone call or Skype. It is possible that involving a third-party might be helpful. My son has a parenting coach because there are some things that I just can’t get through to him. The parenting coach can. Sometimes I need some help being a parent. I can refer you to my parenting coach.
There are solutions here. The first one would be to have an allowance for how your kid feels. I don’t try to force the issue. You grow and see how uncomfortable it is to see your child sad and mad. Don’t try and fix and change and make it all better so the child doesn’t feel uncomfortable. You sit in the fire too.
It might be that your kid’s not even going to be happy until the end of grade 9 or the middle of grade 9. Because I’m a Canadian, we say a grade 9 and not ninth grade but whatever. It might take them a while. You might just have to be with your kid hating you for a little while. Perhaps that’s part of your spiritual growth. As parents, we’re not here to be our kids’ best friends. And, at the same time, we’re here to be their parents which sometimes means they don’t like us. It sometimes means they hate us and, in the end, hopefully, they come around. So maybe it’s counseling for you that would be most supportive right now. I don’t know but there’s a lot to heal, a lot of conversations to have and a lot of breakthroughs waiting to be had as well.
So thank you for reaching out. It could be the best thing that’s ever happened to everybody even if initially it feels like the worst thing.
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Intimacy Expert Allana Pratt’s passionate devotion to her audience via her podcast, blog, and coaching sessions helps men and women reclaim their joy, freedom and personal power dating and in relationships.