Nice to hear this again – just when I happened to have signed up for a CBT course.
Nice to hear this again – just when I happened to have signed up for a CBT course.
New Book is out – please take a look at the blog about it =
or of course you could go directly to Amazon from here if you’d like to order it =
on Amazon (UK), and Amazon (USA) –
or on Kindle (UK) – or Kindle USA –
Its 200 pages with b&w interior but includes graphics.
New Create Health blog in progress here – which I hope you will follow please!
What do you really want of me? Some people seem to think they need to fulfil certain criteria for their partners, but really the answer is “I want you to just be you – the one I love.”
We don’t need to make decisions about our own lives based on what we think others want. Even if we think we know what they want, we are probably wrong!
Yes, obviously you do make decisions together about things that affect the workings of your life – logistic things – like when to have supper and what you might like to have, how to approach getting DIY tasks done, where to meet after work.
And these things certainly apply to jobs – how to work as a team to meet the objectives.
But they don’t apply to your personal choices about who you are being deep down, what you are interested in, how you behave in the world, what your lessons in life might be, what you want to learn, and do.
No one person should be influencing another to be other than themselves – this is not really love – unless they simply do not understand the implications of what they are doing, and would be willing to try to understand this in order to consider doing things differently. (Note that I said “consider” – if they do not wish to give you the freedom to be yourself even when they do understand the implications then this shows that they do not truly cherish you for who you really are, and may prefer to control you, or try to make you into someone to fit their needs.)
We should not have expectations of others, other than to be themselves, and try to make reasonable efforts to get on with each other and with things that need doing so that you can function as a couple or team. These things merely require the willingness to: communicate, compromise to reach joint decisions about practical things, and to actually get on and do your share. They have nothing whatsoever to do with trying to control or change who a person is.
If you want to try to change another to fit your needs, then you should look at why you think you have such needs. The idea of love is simply to give love and be loved in return. You love just as you are and just as they are, otherwise it is not love in the first place – it is merely some idea that you quite like someone and if you can just mould them to fit your needs they will do – but this can never work, not even if you are desperate!
We also have to understand that people are affected by circumstance, and make allowances for this – they may grow past it or not, but that does not mean we love them any more or less. Hopefully pure love will get you both through, but it is difficult if you don’t communicate. You have to not be afraid of talking – trust that the other will want to listen and at least try to understand. But it is not our job to try to ‘fix’ another, just to be there for each other. So as long as you can communicate enough to share your love, so that you do have some joy in your life together, you should be fine.
Perhaps part of cherishing is also being grateful for what you do have. Try to remember all the good things if you are in any doubt.
We should look at the good things in life in general as well, in order to cherish life itself.
Come visit our CHERISH board on Pinterest at https://www.pinterest.com/woodmanjulia/cherish/
See our slideshow here:
Discussion Times for Couples or Others needing to make an effort to get along
Blessing to all, Julia Woodman
Any suggestions to add? Please feel free to comment.
Effective Strategies to help you Cope if things have got Tough, and also
to help you re-engage Joyfully with life and make Practical Plans for further
Goals. This is especially slanted to suit mums, but is helpful for anybody.
by Julia Woodman – Life Coach, Counsellor, Stress Consultant, and Writer
How about keeping a special book to write down lists, notes, responses and observations as
you go along. This is a special record of things you will want to know where to find and refer
back to easily from time to time.
If you are setting out on this journey with young children, then use a large scrapbook for them
as well. Encourage them to explore the world around them and draw and stick things into their
scrapbook as they go.
Make the best of what you have. List all the good things about and around you, and focus
on appreciating them by referring to your list every day. This should include :
• Things about yourself (assets, skills, attributes – for example, you might have child care skills,
be a good cook, a loyal partner, have beautiful hair, strong arms, be friendly, have a great sense
of humour, good health, good home, job that fits around family so that you can be there for them,
considerate, helpful, creative)
• Things about your friends and family etc – listing each person separately is probably best
(very similar to above, including things like: loving partner you can communicate well
with, great children, sensible teenager, friends you can chat at ease with, parent you can
ask for help, practical brother, understanding boss, etc.)
• Things about your surroundings ( beautiful hills and valleys you can walk in, rivers to fish
or swim in, amazing flowers or butterflies you can look at or smell or draw or photograph,
places to go out and listen to music and dance, gym, martial arts or yoga etc classes,
seaside for watersports, swimming pool, good school, other kids that your kids can
spend time with, good weather for growing your crops or veg etc, access to good health
support, libraries, college, jobs, etc.)
You can also refer back to this list to make sure you remember to make use of
the good stuff – for example, keep a diary perhaps to just take note of inspiring
things at any time, and to draw in or write poems in about the beautiful things
in any wild spaces you visit.
You might like to cook a special meal for your partner or family or even just for yourself,
find ways to ensure that you keep up with your friends (even if just via the internet if they
are far away), find fun ways to keep fit, set aside time for good movies or comedy shows
or music events, access resources and knowledge available, play games with your friends
and family, etc. Remember to give praise to partners and children when you can.
When taking walks or going on trips with your children it is great to point out how things
work along the way, and show them the beautiful details in nature, encourage them to
draw or write about it, or stick things in their scrapbooks, such as leaflets about where
you have been. You could help them draw a flower or leaf, and then press it between the
pages of a heavy book in greaseproof paper (which keeps it more vibrant than tissue paper).
Then later on when it has dried you can compare it to the drawing, maybe even
stick it into the scrapbook next to the drawing.
“Beauty is alive in every moment, riding the breath of life
Young children can understand a lot more than we tend to think, and it is crucial to keep
their curiosity, sense of wonder, and thirst for knowledge alive. You too can enjoy their
delight if you help them for example by using illustrated information books. It is
wonderful if you can put on a little act and exclaim with delight or awe at some of the
Effective communication is vital, whether it be at work, or with family, children, or
friends. Be prepared to ensure that you have your fair say in a respectful way. Again, it
is good to write things down in preparation so that you are clear about what the most
important one or two things you want to discuss are, and don’t muddy the waters with all
sorts of vague bits and pieces. I do have more detailed articles and videos about
communication available via my website www.radiance-solutions.co.uk
Let go of small things that niggle at you by concentrating on being grateful for the good
things. What does the other stuff matter by comparison? We all know that no one is
perfect, so let’s stop expecting them to be. If you give praise for the good stuff it will
make everybody (including yourself) feel more willing to try to be their best.
List the knowledge and skills that you already have, and appreciate those too.
These are the building blocks of your life. No thing is too small, so put them all down.
If you are lacking in confidence then use affirmations to help build this up.
There are also some of these available via my website.
You can also learn to write your own – they must always be written in the present tense.
A wonderful affirmation that helps balance your mind, body, and spirit because it aligns
you with the earth and the universe (both of which crucially allow and support life) is to
simply say “I love, and I am loved”. You need to be comfortable, take a few deep
breaths to relax and focus, and then say this aloud and feel that it is true. Your
relationship with the universe and with the earth is fundamental to who you are. Be at
ease with yourself, and let the energy flow up and down your spine as you stand upon the
earth, holding your head steady, repeating this until you know that it is true.
When we are balanced, it is easy for others to love us, because we hold a steadiness in
our hearts and do not react to trivial things. You are regaining your connection with the
deep self and the real world beneath all the crazy stuff and meaningless rules we have
piled on it. Breathe deeply and feel yourself to be more free.
As you progress through all these ideas here and in some of my other materials, you will
find that your confidence increases quite naturally. You have to know that you are
worth it. Everyone has an equal right to live their lives as they choose because each one
of us is a vital part of the overall diversity of life and consciousness. You are a unique
human being come to experience life on this planet so you should aim to learn from
everything, even what we would normally term as negative because the most challenging
things usually have the most potential to teach us stuff. Even illness can be viewed as the
body trying to show us that it needs attention, so once you start listening to that and doing
something about it, you are taking the positive steps you need to. It is your life, and you
have the power to choose to make it good for you. You should not be afraid to follow your
heart and fulfil your dreams, don’t listen to people who tell you otherwise, or to any
niggling doubts in your ego mind.
Our minds can be used as tools to help us help ourselves, instead of allowing
ourselves to be subjected to some of the silly thoughts, fears, and worries that tend to go
round in our heads if we let them. Stop listening to that sort of negative stuff and focus on
the positive. Think about it – worry is a total waste of energy because it does not achieve
anything productive. All it does is show us that perhaps we need to take care to prepare
for whatever it is we are worrying about or fearing, so that we can face it instead of letting
it knock us down. Fear stands for False Evidence Appearing Real – usually if we just
get on and do what we are afraid of, then we find it is all fine after all – so we need to learn
to stop our minds getting in the way, and use them instead to help us move forwards.
By making these lists of all the good stuff, we can then remind ourselves of things to
inspire and motivate us. We can say “AHHHH YES I CAN DO THIS. Look – I already
have some of the skills, and I can learn the rest, and find out what I need to know and do
to be successful.” You can learn to follow your heart to be who you truly want to be.
If you feel stressed or depressed, then look for my articles that can help with such
issues, which are again available on my website www.radiance-solutions.co.uk
There is a full Stress Busting guide available too. Don’t let these things steal your power,
learn how to deal with them! I also have some simple visualizations to help you relax, but
meditation is even more powerful, so if you are prepared to put in the work, go for my
full meditation guide, and you should be well rewarded for your efforts. Meditation takes
you into a sense of bliss that arises from a combination of personal and universal power.
Promise yourself that you are going to stop beating yourself up about anything –
you are doing the best you can for the moment, and as you find out how best to move forward,
you will continue to be doing the best that you can in each moment. Of course, as you
learn and plan and achieve, that best will be better than it was before, and you can
congratulate yourself for every step that you take. Meantime just do not expect too much
from yourself, we can only do what we can, given the tools we have in each moment.
Don’t judge yourself (or others) – each moment is only one step on our journey. Even
if you take a step backwards, don’t waste time and energy on berating yourself for that, just
get back on the track.
Everyone needs a bit of space to themselves once in a while, so ensure that you
do get this, and don’t let anyone else make you feel that you can’t take it – we need to rest
and renew ourselves, recharge our energy. We all have different ways of doing this, so
plan for it as part of your life, just don’t overdo it – there is a big difference between taking
time out now and again to do something inspiring, and withdrawing or retreating from
things. It should be time to do something positive for yourself….. yes if you need to sleep,
then sleep, but ideally you could meditate or read or write or draw or play music, go for a
walk, visit a friend, or do anything you love.
Meditation is fantastic for regaining and strengthening our deeper sense of self.
It can also be used as a tool to train our minds to do what we want instead of getting in our way.
Plan lists of anything else you want to learn or achieve – You can come back to this
later, it is just to get your thoughts clear for now Don’t just think about work, think about
hobbies, enjoyment etc too, anything that might help you (and your partners, and
children, if you have them) have more fun. Obviously sometimes you may need to do
things on your own, but this can be planned for – if you really want to do it, make sure
you put it on your list, don’t leave anything off or limit yourself just because your logical
mind says it isn’t practical!
Writing all these things down helps to give them more potential. If you faithfully
make your lists as suggested, then you will find it useful to refer back to them to remind
yourself of your thoughts and renew your positive motivation. Another main factor about
writing all these things down is that it clarifies your intentions, which helps you focus on
what you want. If our minds are less muddled then we are simply much more likely to
follow what we have set down, so this focus removes the muddle and sets you on track.
We can go a stage further and use life coaching charts to actually make step by step
plans of how we are going to get from point A to B. These are different from the
lists above, because these exercises here are looking at your whole life really, whereas in
life coaching plans you need to focus on one or two specific areas – for example how to get
to do what you want at college, how to plan to move country, how to give up a bad habit,
how to save or pay off debts, how to get fit or lose weight, how to basically achieve any
goal we choose to.
We make the steps along the way realistic and achievable alongside time frames that
again are realistic and achievable. We also add in details like who is going to help or
support you where help is needed, for example you may need a child-minder so that you
can attend college, or you might just need to be able to phone someone up for moral
support if you are feeling tired and demoralised. Or you might just be able to refer back
to your book where you have written your list of reasons for doing this in the first place
to regain your sense of motivation. In any case, your plan will also include rewards for
achievement along the way to help keep up your motivation. We need to bear in mind
that any cycle of change is bound to have slight setbacks once in a while as it is normal to
feel very motivated to start with then run out of steam a bit if things get tough, but the
thing is just to get back on up and on with it again as soon as you are ready, and not waste
time and energy regretting the setback. If we are prepared well enough, then we will
have the support in place to help us get back on track. I have life coaching charts
available on www.radiance-solutions.co.uk/essenceguides3.htm so that you can use them
yourself if you wish to.
If you want to find something to do and you are not sure what that is yet, then I do also
have a system included in my Life Coaching packages to help you tap your
subconscious to identify what you most want. This might help mums returning to
work or mothers whose children have left home, for example, to decide what sort of a career
or business they might want to go for, or define what hobbies or college course might suit
someone. Again, this is on my website www.radiance-solutions.co.uk/essenceguides3.htm
I also love to help Young People and have specific materials available about communication
with them, and helping them to make the transition into adulthood.
I have other guides such as ‘Confirming your Joy’, as well as the Meditation and Stress Busting
ones, all available via www.radiance-solutions.co.uk/essenceguides.htm There are ones
related to Creativity, and Spirituality, and Evolving Consciousness as well.
Creativity is not just about the generally recognised arts, it includes all sorts of
things, like cooking, sewing, woodwork, gardening, flower arranging, decorating, you name it,
we all have some creativity in us. Creativity is also often an outcome of curiosity, which
children usually have in abundance, so looking at things around you can naturally lead on to
creating something in relation to that.
Creativity helps you express yourself, and your appreciation of life. Both of those
help add to your sense of confidence and satisfaction because you are interacting more
with the world around you through your creativity, which also involves a deep level of
noticing details. So I always advocate that people watch other people, animals, plants,
anything at all, and really note the finer details of behaviour, natural beauty, and the
amazing diversity of life, the interaction between things, and also how things function so
incredibly well – including our own bodies. It is equally inspiring to know that even if
we may not function that well all the time, we can always do something about helping
ourselves return to our optimum state.
More details of the HELPFUL LIFE COACHING TOOLS
available hereThere are some specific pointers in there that will be helpful to Mums returning to
work, plus an example form called “Improving Belief in Self as Parent and as having
Valuable Skills & a Right to a Career of Own Choosing”.Life Coaching Pack of All 3 Achievable Goal Planning Sections
How to Maximise Success, Help to Decide, and all FORMS £6.50
(which gives a saving of 50p on buying them separately as detailed below).
[The sections are also available separately so that people who don’t need the “help to
decide” section can save by just buying the other two. And sometimes people just want
the “help to decide” section and then take it from there themselves because they might
already know about life coaching, but that is a unique extra developed by me. Or people
might just want to use my forms and look at my examples, although I do obviously
recommend looking at the 2nd section too, as there is so much useful information in it.]
Life Coaching 1 How to HELP yourself DECIDE WHAT you really want to do £1.50Help with deciding on your goals in the first place. It’s best to get really clear before you
begin the planning stage so that you don’t waste time and effort.
For example, you could be trying to decide which course to study, what to do as a career
(or change of career), or for a hobby etc, but you can also apply it to any decision you
are not sure about (like moving home, ending a relationships, travelling etc).
We do sometimes subconsciously block our own progress, particularly if we are not sure
what we want, or if we don’t have enough self esteem or confidence in ourselves.
Life Coaching 2 HOW TO develop achievable Goal Plans, and put realistic
Includes details of what to think about before starting your plan.
Life Coaching 3 Goal Setting FORMS £3
Includes blank form for your use, plus a tutor form with guidelines on,
Examples include: 1) paying off debts, 2) losing weight and getting fit alongside study
I really hope that this has been helpful, and that anyone interested in planning to achieve
goals will take the next step and get the life coaching packs, but please do also feel
free to phone or email with any questions, or if you would like further support.
Whatever choices you make
In response to a blog about young people self harming despite
their parents trying to do everything right, and questioning if
there is too much stress with lots of homework and other things
they have to do, another person wrote that young people these days
seem to be given things on a plate and organised too much. I made
a further response to this:
Most people I know of my generation did have very bad things going
on when they were kids, but somehow we were tough enough to deal
with them, although they do still affect us, obviously. We never expected
to be given things on a plate, we were brought up to think for ourselves,
and to be versatile, and figure out our own ways of coping.
Yes, children now are often organised so much to fit into a system but it is becoming
obvious that there are things wrong with that system, so perhaps we should be helping
our young people become more able to cope with challenges and changes instead of
channelling them into specialised paths quite so much.
By the way, we had 2hrs of homework every day right through high school because I
was boarding, there was no choice but to go to the homework period between supper
and lights out not to say that I actually DID homework though I mostly wrote poetry!
I used to swim 50 olympic lengths before school and before dinner every day, and do
long distance running but it was all very definitely MY choice to do these things. I
think I still had some time to muck about with my friends, but I only got to see my
parents one weekend a month from age 11. When I was home, I used to wander about in
the wilderness most of the time though, so it must have been when I was very young that
the free thinking and versatility stuff was instilled in me unless I was just born that way.
There is a lot more that I wanted to say though :
We know that giving kids things on a plate tends to make them self-centred, and less able
to cope, yet this still happens. ‘Love’ so often then becomes a sort of ‘cupboard love’
which depends on the visiting relative or friends giving gifts or providing really fun days
out, so it also teaches them to be devious! This can especially apply when couples have
separated the children can soon learn how to get things from each parent by turning it
into a sort of competition if you aren’t careful. If one parent, or a friend, decides not to
play this game they can find themselves ‘dropped’ just like that.
And yes, children are organised so much to fit into the system study hard, get a job,
get a mortgage, have a family, accumulate things, and continue the cycle into the next
generation. Do we ever question whether there could be another way of not being
slaves to the ‘system’, which we can easily see has its problems if we stop long enough to
think. So many people are not really thinking though, because in their limited spare time
they seem to be sucked into the TV, which tells you a carefully concocted version of
reality that’s very different from the real thing (newspapers too), or the pub where they
can numb their thinking with drink and superficial conversation, or more business deals.
I suspect that some of our young people are having trouble understanding why we go on
round and round in these meaningless circles, and this could be a source of much
emotional distress. When I was a teenager my poems were all about the terrible things
humanity was doing to our natural world, and I know for sure that a lot of our youngsters
are very concerned about these sorts of issues. Even those who have an outlet for their
feelings such as writing poetry or writing and playing music, still struggle with the huge
chasm between their understanding, and the world where people seem to be switched off,
just working and drinking and acting as if the most important thing on earth was to be
rich enough to both socialise and compete with people who have the same priorities.
Basically the system gives the message that if you comply you will be given some of the
‘sweets’, just the same as spoilt kids – and once you start going down that road it is very
hard to turn back, so you end up turning a blind eye, and doing all sorts of compromising
things to ensure the sweets keep coming – particularly if you have now got a partner and
kids to answer to if the supply stops. Have you asked them though, what they really
think, do you actually know?
Not everyone wants to be like that. Many young people are much more grown up and
aware than that. If we don’t encourage our young people to think for themselves,
seek alternatives, or at least let them know that we accept their need to do so, then
they are going to feel very trapped, and also probably worried about disappointing us.
Those benefiting from our current systems are not our young people at all unless of
course they really are brainwashed enough to want to be the next big business magnet.
Our system perpetuates specialism rather than versatility, which means that you then tend
to rely on others to provide the services and things you cannot do or produce yourself,
and thus are relying on the continuing system whether we like it or not. We tend to be left
thinking that we can’t break out of it, but this isn’t really true at all. In fact, once the oil
runs out, we will probably have to survive at more of a local level anyway, so we need to
all be learning to be more versatile really.
However, if we went off now and did our own thing, or local community thing, then the
big boys of the banking and business world, and the governments, wouldn’t be making
money out of us; so they are constantly seeking more ways to shackle us and herd us
They want to keep us deeply entrenched, with our mortgages and other debts, and our
taxes and other commitments. But they also keep quietly adding more rules, regulations,
restrictions, and requirements to tighten the hold – to be able to take more from us, and to
stop us from doing much for ourselves. Many of these threaten our freedom and health.
They also want to keep us blindfolded, concealing the truth about just how incredibly
awful they have been in their manipulation of events in their attempts to grab everything
they value, and control the world, because of course they are afraid of retribution.
However, most people, and organisations, who are awake to what has been going on are
quite spiritually mature, and are more interested in putting things right than in retribution
or revenge. We just want to see everybody in with a fair chance of survival – with our
freedom and health intact. We want to find sustainable ways of living, helping each other
and yet continuing to be our unique selves, and continuing to evolve consciously into a
species capable of living in harmony.
So let’s re-assure our young people that we are prepared to go for this, or at least enable
them to do so. Let’s talk about it in families – there should be no taboos. Let’s give them
something to identify with, hope for, and help carry through. It’s not the first time that
we will be making some big changes, as history will show, so they had better believe that
we are capable of it. There is already so much good stuff going on that they should take
heart from that too – thankfully the internet has proved to be an amazing tool for sourcing
information and co-ordinating efforts. Let’s do this – let’s pull this team together now.
Our website is www.backtothegarden.org.uk and
“Back to The Garden” facebook group is open for anyone to join,
We are building links to useful sources of information & inspiration,
and co ordinating global meditation linkups for positive input into the collective
consciousness – the compost bed from which our new garden will grow.
Communication with Teenagers
You may have been used to having a child whom you have often needed to tell or
ideally show what to do, but now you have a teenager who needs to learn to be an adult.
They still need guidelines so that they know where they stand, and help with some
things too, but you can let them know that there are times when they can really help
you as well.
You could include them in discussions as if they were another adult about the place,
asking their views about family and other things. You might be surprised at their
insight, but you will need to be prepared to accept their honesty!
They need to learn how to deal with practical household things, and financial details
too, so if there are decisions that need to be made about how to handle bills, or set up,
fix, or replace something, do include them in that too. One day when they move out,
they will need to have an understanding of these things if they are going to be successful
at living independently. Of course they should help with the chores and DIY, but be
careful not to turn this into a battle, and make allowance for their busy study schedules etc.
It needs to be about willingly showing a little responsibility rather than doing things under
duress. You should make sure they understand that everyone has bits to do so that they
can see the fairness of it, and it might be an idea to change things around a bit every now
and again, for example offering them a choice of what they might like to get some practice
at this month or next. Try to gently teach them what they want to know, for example they
might like to make a meal for their friends, or for Dad’s birthday perhaps, or help make
sandwiches for your party (and be allowed to stay up a bit late to offer them around the
guests). Even adults need to be praised for the positives instead of always criticised, so
remember to notice if they do something particularly well or think of something for
If there are changes of job or working hours, or moves to be made, including your teenagers
in discussions helps them to understand your viewpoints and reasoning, a) so that they won’t
get the wrong end of the stick, and b) so that they won’t feel hurt or rejected or angry with one
or other or both of you. You can see how there could be a danger they might misunderstand
things if they were not included in discussion; for example they might make assumptions that
Dad made Mum suddenly go out to work when they were used to having her at home, when
really it might have been Mum who wanted to get into doing something. Or they might
presume that Dad was sacked when really he decided to give up a job to become self
employed, or to have a break for health reasons. It’s also obviously important to try to
give them an unbiased view of things, not a one-sided account from one parent or the
other, as that tends to manipulate their feelings and loyalties unfairly.
Even if there are family difficulties, it is far better to share what is going on. It’s
unrealistic to try to shield your teenager too much from the realities, whether the
issues are at home or in the big bad world out there. If you shield them too much
then they may get some very nasty surprises later, and possibly struggle to cope if it
is all too sudden.
Reasoning with someone you have helped to mature is the best way to come to
agreements about where they should be allowed to go and what time they will be
expected home, and what to do if they are in difficulty, etc. (for example, it’s okay
to phone home for a lift if they are stuck somewhere). Ask them what they think
reasonable rules are – you might be surprised at how responsible they can be if you
start out by treating them as if they are responsible. Show them the respect you want
them to show you, by negotiating firmly but fairly with them, instead of leaving them
to drift into a state of confusion and disconnection, or backing them into a position of
resentment and alienation. Young people need a strong sense of identity and belonging,
so it is ideal that they can still feel comfortable at home. Being brought into family
discussions makes them feel valued, and being helpful gives them a sense of responsibility;
both help them feel as if they belong.
Your teenagers need enough freedom to discover age appropriate things, like music
for example. If you are going to try and prevent them from going to an event they can
hear down the road, then don’t be surprised if they disobey you and sneak out. Try to be
realistic, then it is easier for them not to be tempted to defy you. Far better to sit down
and say that you realise that they ought to be allowed more freedom as they grow up,
and say that you trust them, and hope that they will always feel able to come to you if
they get into any tricky situations. Ask them to let you know if they feel the rules need
re-negotiation as they prove themselves, and if they have any questions anytime at all.
Even much younger children can be really good at understanding situations. When my
lads were still at junior school I would ask them why they thought it was wrong to do
certain things, to check their understanding, especially if something was dangerous.
I also sometimes asked them what punishment they thought they deserved for a
transgression and they were really harsh on themselves. Even as toddlers standing in
the shopping trolley, I would ask them why they thought it was not a good idea for a
mother to buy the sweets her child was yelling for – and they knew well enough that if
you bought them under those circumstances, then the child would always know in future ~
that if he hollered loudly long enough he would ultimately get what he wanted. So I would
reward good behaviour with a treat rather than the other way around, sometimes as we
left the shop and sometimes later – they knew I would be fair. We used to have a red
plastic cake container that we kept those miniature versions of chocolates in, and also
little boxes of raisons (which they loved), and if it had been a good day they were often
allowed to pick a ‘red tin goodie’ after supper. They would help choose the goodies for
the ‘tin’ in the shop, and that of course was a good opportunity to show how it was a good
idea to go for the special offers – 3 packets for the price of 2 meant the tin was fuller
and there was more choice. They were really good at judging when they needed to go
to bed too, so showed good signs of developing self-management skills.
So, I always say that children and young people ought to be given a lot of credit for their
understanding and good judgement, and consulted on things whenever possible.
Obviously you do not want to stress them by giving them too much inappropriate
information too early, but introducing things gradually makes it a lot easier for them to
grow up sensibly. You wouldn’t want everything to come as a big shock all at once later on
would you? Of course, spoiling people of any age can turn them into lazy users or even
manipulative control freaks, so you wouldn’t want to do everything for them anyway.
It doesn’t do them any favours in the long run as, apart from not learning anything, they
don’t have a chance to develop self respect or satisfaction through achievement and inclusion,
so they can become sullen, and bored too. It is important to help them develop self esteem
in a balanced way, giving them the chance to try things, and win praise, but not so much that
they become over inflated either. We want them to gain confidence but not become too
Our Young People can become quite distressed and confused about life as they come
across so many new things going on. They tend to be quite sensitive about what is happening
in the world as they are trying to make sense of life and what it might mean to them, and
figure out what they want to do. Things like wars, third world suffering, animal welfare,
environmental, ecological, and economic issues, powerful people getting away with things
they shouldn’t, etc, can all be great cause for concern. It is no good trying to brush these
things under the carpet as that will not gain you respect; your young person does need to be
able to discuss them properly, form opinions, and consider things they might be able to do
to help change things, otherwise they might become depressed, or cynical. They might also
be wondering why your generation has allowed these things to happen. If you don’t really
know how to deal with these issues, then at least help find them places and people they can
turn to for information and advice. Lots of organisations offer online information as well as
actions that can be taken, such as the chance to sign petitions or get involved in fundraising.
Teenagers also ideally need events to mark and celebrate their transitions into adulthood,
things that offer real meaning, that touch the deep person inside, so plan birthdays etc carefully
I have workshops to help with this transition, and information will be in one of my forthcoming
books, but in the meantime I will aim to write more articles about it. Young people might like to
do some things that are a bit different or special to help them on their journey like rock climbing,
martial arts, canoeing, etc –something to help them focus on a mind, body, spirit level, to
integrate all these aspects of themselves into a balanced being.
Sometimes you might want to have a meeting with you, your partner, and one teenager at a time,
for discussion or debate. Ask them to suggest topics to bring to the table, and you can do the
same, so you sort of have an agreed agenda. You should make an effort not to sidetrack too
much so that you can focus on what you agreed, and don’t get into areas you haven’t prepared
for, or get caught up in emotional slanging. Everyone should be prepared to consider everyone
else’s feelings and viewpoints, and try to understand why they think and feel that way. Don’t try
to coerce people to agree with you, or try to lay down any laws. Everyone should be allowed to
question or challenge, as long as it is done politely. Who knows what you might learn from your
If you are coming to these sort of ideas late, when your teenager has already become
frustrated and bewildered, and there may be behavioural issues at home or at school or
both, then you could try explaining to them that you did not know what to do before but
that you want to try now. You could ask them to help you to know how to help them.
It would probably make things worse if you said “You need to do this…. Or that…. Or
else…..” Surely it would be better to say “What do you think we could do to help?”
Even if they reject you now (due to their pent up frustration or other emotions) don’t give
up, just say that you will be there for them if they want to approach you when they are
ready. You can then suggest “Let’s sit down and discuss what we can (realistically) do to
make things work out better for everyone”. Another suggestion could be, “We would
like you to help us understand how you feel and what you think about things so that we
can try to help…… “ There might also be a good time to point out that parents just don’t
always know that much about being parents, no one gets training, it’s just something you
try to learn how to do as you go along. This can often defuse blame and anger in both
directions, as they suddenly realise that you can’t actually be expected to know
everything, and by the way, neither can they. So hopefully we end up with both parties
now being willing to try again, because after all you do still care about each other or you
wouldn’t be having the conversation.
I don’t think it ever hurts for young people to know if we are struggling a bit with things,
it means that they will recognise that it isn’t an ‘us and them’ situation, we are all in this
life together, and it would be really great if we could be a team. Of course, you don’t
want to overdo it and fall to pieces in front of them, just be natural. A lot of the time
I think that people are too afraid to open up and share their feelings because they don’t
think that others can understand or empathise, so it makes them feel vulnerable to
ridicule; but actually it makes us all more human.
If there are things that parents find too difficult to handle themselves, then there is
nothing wrong with turning to outside help.It is far better than letting things slide.
You may find that a grandparent or uncle might be the right one to help, or it might
be the parents of one of your young person’s friends that they feel more at ease with,
or maybe even a professional mentor, or perhaps someone via school or college might
have the relevant experience. It is that much easier for someone who is a bit detached
from the situation to bring a clearer perspective to things, so don’t feel jealous or
inadequate, just be grateful that your young person is getting some help. Too often
in today’s society, families have been separated by having to move for a job, or other
reasons, so it is sometimes not so easy to access extended family support, which puts
all sorts of extra pressure on parents anyway. Just try to make any outside help seem
as normal as possible rather than stigmatise it. Whether it is official or unofficial it is
still essentially just a friendly ear, with perhaps some practical advice.
Hopefully you won’t have much problem, especially if you are already open to ideas such
as those expressed here. Even if there are issues now, try not to panic too much about the
future, because things can always be improved with a little effort. In the end, family love
usually wins through, and things get better sooner or later. Stuff can be forgiven or put
into perspective, especially once your young people have children of their own and they
find out for themselves what it’s like to be a parent!
See our blog – Helping Our Young People to Think for Themselves