New Episode! Why Middle School Is So Tricky with Jessica Speer
Jan. 18, 2022

Maintaining A Close Relationship With Your Teen


Please join me for my wonderful conversation with Jenny Hecht, LCSW. Jenny is a therapist and advocate with over 20-years of experience working with middle and high school students. With her professional youth training, hear her fascinating observations and eye-opening personal insights as she too experiences parenting a teen.    Jenny shares a unique perspective of what our teens encounter and how we as parents can maintain and evolve our relationships as they go through these critical growth phases of their lives. You won’t want to miss this episode! Join us after the episode on our Facebook group. facebook.com/groups/reallifemomz/ for more stories and conversations about this topic or any other parenting topic.

 

Resources:

-Bene Brown BRAVING

https://brenebrown.com/resources/the-braving-inventory/

-Untangled by Lisa Damour ( see resource link on how to purchase)

-Brainstorm by Daniel Siegel. (see resource link on how to purchase)

 

 

 

Transcript

Welcome to Real Life Momz. I'm your host, Lisa Foster and Real Life Momz is a podcast that's all about real conversations, real-life issues that parents deal with every day. Our mission is to connect moms by talking about these topics and to continue these conversations through our Real Life Momz Facebook group, where we would love for you to become part of our community. Today, we're talking about maintaining a close relationship with our teens and I'm so lucky to have my friend Jenny with me. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has over 20 years of experience working with middle and high school youth.

Hi, Jenny. Welcome to the show. Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

But you know, I have to tell you this, because first off, when I said I was going to do this podcast, my whole family goes, oh, you have to have Jenny on your episodes. They are all so excited right now that you're on. And I think they're probably just like listening outside. Well, that's really an honor to hear.  So today our topic is maintaining a close relationship as our children become teens. So how do we do that, Jenny? And I brought you on the show because I know you have a teen, but you also work a lot with teens. So I don't know if you care to share a little bit about just your background Sure.

 

I'll just start by saying that after 21 years of working with teens, now that I have my own, I'm like, oh my God, I've been first of all, how have I worked with teens for 20 years and felt so unprepared to have my own, um, because it's completely different. And it's interesting because for so many years of my career, working with parents of teens and being really offended, sometimes they would question my expertise or authority around saying anything about raising teens when I haven't raised my own. And it was really, it would offend me. I'd be like, God, how could you say that? Like I have all this experience, no, I had so much humility now about just it's incredibly challenging and no matter how much academic or intellectual expertise you may have, our children are such unique individuals and knowing developmental information or what is best practice does not necessarily mean that you are gonna  know what to do with your own child and be not have a really bumpy road at times. Yeah. And no two children are alike. So even if you have more than one or five kids, you know, if you get it down for one teen, it's totally different for the other one, right? Oh, absolutely. I have parents say that to me all the time when they're dealing with maybe their second or third kid, going through their adolescents. Oh my God. We didn't have to deal with this with older mines. Yeah. Because they are all so unique. And you know, my background for 15 years was working with teens in schools. So really not just working with them one-on-one, but also with the culture. It's really fascinating to see how, regardless of all the changes from generation to generation and how culture changes in society changes, there are so many things that remain true about this period of a human being's life and the things that they're striving for and the tensions that arise in the parent-child relationship.

And not that it being predictable makes it any easier because again, it's unique to your child, but, um, yeah, it's, it's been really fascinating for me to have all this experience working with teens. So. Jenny, what would you say you've learned from all your experience? And I would say Lisa, the thing that I have learned the most over my career working with teams is their perspective. And I think even now one of the hardest parts about my work right now is working with the clients that are the same age as my daughter at this time. But at the same time, it's also incredibly valuable because inevitably the universe seems to deliver my clients all presenting me in one week with exactly what I'm dealing with at home. Yeah. At home, I'm dealing with it from the mother's perspective and feeling frustrated with my daughter. And then I get to feel like I'm actually hearing what my daughter might be thinking and feeling when my clients are trusting our relationship and talking openly about how they feel about the way they're being parented and just getting to have that kind of reframe and lens that I think a lot of parents don't have the, the benefit of getting, um, yeah, I'm grateful for that.  Whereas your teen, you're probably not the person they're confiding in. Right. And telling you their perspective and opening up as much as your clients are coming in. And that's what they're there for. You're there,to listen, and for them to talk to you. So that's probably such a little fly on the wall, if you will. Um, to know what is kind of going on a little bit and your daughter's mind where they're not, they're not talking that way to us. 

Absolutely. And I think the other benefit of doing this job, you know, I remember I actually have a client now who is in her mid twenties that I've known since she was in sixth grade because she was a kiddo. I worked with at one of my early jobs in the schools. And her mom knew me from, you know, being kind of in the same mental health community. And so when I started at her daughter's middle school, before her daughter entered, she called me and said, there's nothing specifically going on with my daughter, but I want her to establish a trusting relationship with another adult so that if it does come up, she has that resource. And I think one of the hardest things for a lot of the parents that I work with, and I understand it on such a deep level is how personally we can take the fact that our kids want to talk to someone else, the things that are important to them. And I think being able to be that person for so many young people has allowed me to have the humility of recognizing that I can't be that person for my daughter. And it's not because I don't, it doesn't matter what knowledge I have. Right. Like in middle school, I used to think like, just listen to me, all these other teenagers, listen to me. But I've realized over the last couple of years that, you know, I'm really grateful for what she does share with me, but I'm also grateful for the other trusted adults in her life that she leans into those relationships and opens up to, and it doesn't feel threatening to me because of the experience that I've had. Yeah. That's a great point. I remember reading somewhere where they were saying that grandparents are so important in our teen's life because it's a trusted adult that they can talk to, but it's not their parent. Like it's almost like they can have that relationship that you're discussing through another family member. And I do see that in my kids, um, especially my son, my son has gotten so close to his grandma and he, he talks to her and he's not a big, he's pretty quiet.

So he doesn't talk a lot. So it's so nice to know that he's opening up to someone. Yeah. But I think that's one of the biggest challenges of your child going from child to adolescent is especially, you know, in my experience with my daughter, I was the center of her world for a long time. And all of a sudden they start pulling away. And even with all that knowledge and perspective, I had a just perfect heart. And I remember at the beginning of the pandemic, my daughter in eighth grade was at the height of, you know, social desire when you're 13 to 15, like you want to be with friends and was really struggling. And we ended up having, you know, a fairly large conflict. And she said I need to go somewhere. I want to get out of here. And it broke my heart. My husband drove her to my, um, mother-in-law's house for a few days just to get some space left. I just cried and cried and cried. And I called my friend who said, Jenny, this is exactly what she needs to do. She needs to push you away. And when she was at my mother-in-law's house, it's not like they talked a whole bunch, but just breaking that dynamic and being with an adult who doesn't feel that person that's packed in that tension and is able to be a little less judgmental and have less expectations. I mean, I know it sounds trite, but there's such value in that statement.It takes a village to raise a child. I think it's really, really important that they have those other relationships, not just with therapists, but also with teachers and with voice teachers and with coaches and with extended family and all of that. And even friends, parents, you know, their best friend's parents, they can open up to. And, also just going back to what you were saying is like for parents, really, I think the hardest part is not to take all these changes personally, right? When you're going through, which is really hard. But when you really think of it, I think you recommended the book Untangled by Lisa Damour. I think it was. Um, and I remember when my daughter was like, I think it was more middle school than now in high school, but you know, when she was going through all these changes and things, and I would just kind of get this emotional part to me, I literally would open the book and read a chapter. It just made me feel so much better because it really explained how much they're going through. We don't realize it, you know, they get a little snappy or, you know, they have this response that isn't what we were hoping for, but really their  they talk about how much their brain is changing, how their hormone levels. I mean, they're developing in all these different ways, and then different things are coming at them that they are technically a little bit crazy at that point. Yes, absolutely. Yeah. As, um, there's another great book called Brainstorm by Daniel Siegel. And he talks about that, that craziness is like literally their brain is having an electrical storm and rewire the same way that it did as toddlers. But, um, you know, it's, you just made me think of, there was a period of time last year where, um, it was really hard. My daughter's going through some hard stuff and she'd come home from school and I'd right away. Be like, you didn't empty the dishwasher. You need to do this. You need to do that. And as the universe does, it delivered me a client that week, who was like, when I'm home from school, my parents get on my case about all this stuff and they don't understand what it's like to walk through a day at school and started talking about, you know, feeling the stares from their peers that are both judgmental, feel somewhat sexual and uncomfortable, and then dealing with, you know, teachers and their judgments and just went through this whole list.

And I thought, oh my goodness. And I, and I sat down with my daughter and he said, this is what I heard from a client. Is that your experience? And she got teary and was like, oh, for asking me because yes, when I come home, I just want to feel like I can let down and be safe. And I feel like there's more expectations for me. And, you know, obviously, we still have to have expectations for our kids, but having that empathy and understanding how to give them space to decompress, just like we do, right. When we get home from work, we don't want everybody shouting at us and asking for a million things and I think that's something that I see with a lot of my clients' parents is that they don't get that. And there's this, this real rigid expectation of this is what it looks like to contribute to our household forgetting that our children have these very rich, complex and very challenging lives outside of our eyesight and earshot for molding. 

Yeah. Yeah. I can totally see that. And, and it just keeps reminding me that, you know, there is so much more to their story that we see. Right. And then I think one thing I always have to remember is to listen, you know, instead of just jumping in and saying things and trying to get them to do these things or whatever, it's just to sit down and just maybe ask a question and just wait and listen. Um, because I do think the communication piece, that's one thing that I've always done in my family is that we always communicate. I do feel like I have, even though my kids are teens, um, we still, we still talk to each other. Um, my daughter especially will still come to me for advice and things and ask questions. And I think one of the reasons she still does that is because I really have always decided to say, I'm not going to judge. I'm going to listen first. And I'm going, to be honest. I mean, I have judged 75% of the time does not judge what she's saying and listen first before I kind of communicate because, you know, she can have a horrible friend drama situation. And the first thing as a parent you want to do is to say, oh, that kid, Ugh, how awful that kid is. It's all, you know, and you want to jump on their bandwagon of what they're doing, but at the end of the day, these are teens and that kid maybe her best friend in two more days. Right. If I've already put out these feelers. Um, oh, that kid's awful. No, they're terrible. Um, you think she's going to come back to me to talk about this friend that she's now friends with? No, right. Absolutely 

I've always tried to keep my judgment down, my listening high and the communication open.

 

And I think the advice is another place where we can just step in it. Right. Because other clients say to me once, I just want my parents to understand that not everything has to be a teachable moment. Oh, so true,  And sometimes, you know, when we're sitting at dinner as a family and my daughter is sharing stuff about her day and I hear my husband or I interjecting with, you know, those, those lessons that we want our kids to learn. And we have to like kick each other under the table and be like, stop it, just stop and something that's really helpful for a lot of, um, it's been helpful for us, for sure. And it's been helpful for a lot of my client’s families to be able to respond when your child is about to share something with you. Do you just want me to listen right now because of the event, or do you want my feedback? If you don't ask that up front, then when there's a pause, you can ask it then like, would you be interested in hearing my thoughts about this? Or do you want me to just listen right now? And if you want to hear my thoughts later, you can let me know. And then it feels like we're really valuing and honoring their boundaries and respecting that we can sometimes just be a vessel to hold space for them to process themselves and not offering them advice, shows our trust. Like, I believe that you are capable of navigating this and I'm here. If you want to know my thoughts, I'm happy to share them with you. But I think I fall prey to this all the time. And I see so many people do as well, this feeling that we know better, and we want to protect our kids from the pain of navigating things on their own, but that's how they develop resiliency to navigate hard things and learn that they can do it. But if we protect them and give them advice and try to get all the barriers out of their way, which is, unfortunately, something I see a lot of parents doing in the last couple of decades, um, that they don't grow those roots. And so they feeling unstable when they start to face situations in their early adulthood, nobody's there to walk them through. I also realize that I don't really know the answer, even if I wanted to protect or, you know, certain situations are very, very different nowadays than when we were kids navigating. And as much as we think we know, or I know I find myself saying, well, I don't really know my daughter, even if she asked me advice, because what do you think, I think go with what you think. Cause I don't, I really don't know the answer and I don't have a right or wrong answer for you. I find myself stuck in that quite a bit actually, which I think is good for them to know. I don't know. But, um,.

 

It's huge because you're modeling humility for them and the recognition that we don't need to have all the answers about parenting or about anything else. And that it's okay to say, I don't know. And I need to ask somebody else who might, or I don't know. And what do you think? Or I don't know, but I'd be happy to help you find some resources that might give us the answers. And you know, I think a lot of times parents feel this fear of their children recognizing that they don't know everything as though they're going to lose respect for them, or they're going to stop listening to them or, you know, they're going to lose power somehow. And I think the reality is teenagers in particular seem to have a lot more respect for adults who are willing to say to them. I don't have all the answers. Then the ones who seem to know everything, because I think they deep down understand that they don't know all that. They don't know all the answers either. Right? So it almost puts you on the same level of, you know, being able to understand each other. It's like, well, I don't know, neither, nor do I. We can relate to that. And I recently heard from a kiddo that I knew at the high school that I worked at, um, about 10 years ago. And so she's now in her mid twenties and she reached out to me and said, I don't know if you remember, but you and I had a conversation once where you told me that adults really don't know what they're doing either. You just keep doing your best every day. But she said, I told you, I was scared about being an adult. Because I didn't know how to do things like pay taxes or buy a house. And I apparently said to her, you know, sometimes I look at my life and think I have no idea how I got here because I don't know how I bought a house or cars or started a business and she said, that was so helpful to me because I looked up to you and realizing that you were just doing your best and didn't feel the need to know everything so much pressure and expectation. And that was wonderful to hear and really validating for how I'm trying to raise my daughter and the messages I'm trying to give her. Well, It's funny, just the other day I said to my husband, I'm like, wow, I'm almost 50. And when do I stop feeling like a kid? I still don't feel like an adult. I don't, I think I'm going to be like 95 and still be like, man, I don't know. Absolutely. Yeah. We learn certain things as we age. But I think the biggest thing that we learn is that our perceptions of the elders in our lives when we were kids were just started, but it is, it's all about perception. And I think when kids are little, they need to feel that security, that the adults in their life know that they can keep them safe, and know how to guide them. But once kids enter adolescence, I think they need more the humility and vulnerability of the adults around them. Being honest with them. Our culture is so means to an end and it's messaging to young people that I feel like they think that there's this point that they're going to arrive at where they get their adult card and suddenly are going to have to know how to do all these things on this checklist of being an adult. The greatest gift we can give them is taking that pressure away and letting them know that it's about having a relationship with their education and a relationship with their growth. And, and that it's, you know, not to, again, sound trite, but it's the journey, right?

Not the destination. Yeah. My daughter just recently got her new semester schedule and it's funny. She's like, I want to take life skills. Like, that's a course and I'm thinking, wow, why didn't I take that in the course? And am I too old for it?That sounds amazing. She's like, you know, you know, living on your own. And I was like, wow, what a great class. I don't know what it satisfies. And honestly, I don't care. Yeah. Sign up for that one and also sign up for cooking while you're at it. Cause that's like a life skill you need. But yeah. I mean, I think that those are all amazing things. 

 

Yeah. Um, but another thing that I want to offer your listeners, they say is something that's been of great value to me, which is Bene Brown's acronym for the elements of trust, which is BRAVING and, you know, parents and children need to have mutual trust. And I think a lot of times parents forget that it's just listened to me, right? The, what the acronym stands for, you know, these for boundaries, right? What is, and isn't okay on both sides. Um, and we also have to remember that our kids need to have boundaries. Like it's, you know, I understand that there are moments where we may feel the need to violate their privacy and search their room. There are people who make the mistake of doing that in almost a preventive way and violating that boundary of privacy is incredibly damaging because we want those boundaries. We don't want our child going in and searching our room, but we have the right to do that to them.

Um, and again, if there's, you know, an issue that there's a safety issue of concern, of course, here, that you should never do that. But so boundaries, what isn't as an okay reliability, like you were saying, your kids know, if you say you're going to do something, you're going to do it. And reliability leads to the a, which is accountability, right? If we're, if we say we're going to do something and we're not accountable or we're, we don't do it, we need to be willing to be accountable. And that's another imbalance and a lot of parent-child relationships that do, as I say, not as I do, right.

You need to listen to me, but I'm not going to let you hold me accountable because that chips away at my sense of power. And, um, and that's really damaging. And also is it safe to be accountable, right? If your child apologizes, for example, for saying, I hate you, do you then launch into, will you hurt me? And it's not okay. You don't talk to me that way, because then it's not safe for them to be vulnerable and apologize. Foundry, simple as sides, reliability on both sides, accountability on both sides. V is Bene Brown's way of making it fit into an acronym because V for the vault is actually confidentiality, but braving is better than bracing, I guess. Um, but you know, do we tell our children's stories to people who they wouldn't want them shared with? And that happens a lot and kids will set that, oh my God, my parents told my grandparents this or their friends this, and then they ask questions and it feels like a violation of, I hate that when my mom did that, I remember on the phone with her friends and I'm right there telling something, oh, I hated that. And I have to say, I think I've done that at least once or twice to my kids. I'm going to, I'm going to own up to that because 

I think Lisa, that there are some like if we think about parent-child confidentiality, our children are going to need to share with their friend’s experiences that they have with us to help them process. And there have been times when, you know, my closest friends have clearly known something about my daughter and she was upset that they did. And I said, but I have to process with someone, right? Like if we fight, I have to be able to talk to someone about that. And I'm sorry, that feels like, And we need the advice of somebody who's like, I'm dealing with a situation for my kids and just like Real Life Momz. I asked my mom friends and may need to know the story. And, and yeah. And so that, that happens too. And they're my support system or their friends or their support system. So yeah, 100%. So I. Feel better about violating that actually a little bit. That's sometimes you can violate, you know, with good intention. When it's going to be helpful. Yes. There was a twist.

Yeah. And then I is for integrity. Right? Can we, can we choose courage over comfort and do what's right over, what's fast, fun or easy. Can we model that for our children? And can they learn to do that as well in our relationships so that, you know, instead of pretending that everything is fine, we have the courage to talk about hard things together because there's the trust of the reliability and the accountability and the boundaries that allows us to choose courage over comfort and, and is non-judgment right Can, can our kids ask us for help? Can we acknowledge that we need help without being judged by each other? And G is for generous assumptions. Can we assume positive intent? And I think this is where I see a lot of parents struggle. Another thing that I've learned from watching parents over the years, that's helped me now that my daughter's a teenager is that many people begin from a place of mistrust. Like I know my kid as a teenager is going to try to do all these things. And so I'm going to start with a tight reign. You know, that's really counterproductive and I've seen it over and over and over that, the more we box in a kid, like for example, if they, if they make a bad choice and we take away all their freedoms, then what it's, it's just like, I'm, I'm a, a very big fan of restorative justice as a practice and crim, it's an answer to criminal justice or criminal justice says you've made a mistake. You've broken a law. We're going to remove you from your community. And you're punished. And that's what we do with our children is we take away their phones and we ground them and we punish them. And restorative justice says, okay, you have damaged, in some way, a relationship, whether it's with a community or with an individual, and you need to repair that relationship before it can be reintegrated. And so the idea being when your child breaks your trust in some way, that's when they need to earn it back. Right. We don't want to operate from a place of like, I don't trust you ever again. You mean starting with, I don't trust you ever before they've even broken. Okay. And then maintaining this, like, hyper-vigilance that makes them feel like they can't make a wrong move or they're going to have all their freedom taken away. And that's a tricky one, just like not disrespecting the boundaries of their privacy and room. But if you have a relationship with your child that has all those other elements, then hopefully there's enough room to trust their boundaries and to give them some generous assumptions. And in my experience with clients and my own child, it's actually worked out really well and led to them having some ownership of an, a sense of pride about making better choices and not feeling this need to rebel all the time.

I have to ask your opinion because we had an incident a while ago. Yeah. It was a while ago where our daughter definitely, um, did something that took away our trust. Totally not good. I'm not going to talk about the incident, those that know, know. And this was, yeah. And this is, um, and this was a big thing for myself and my husband and what we ended up doing is, well, we, we put a chore in there as a punishment because we just needed our dishes done every day. We were just needing more dish time. So we did that for ourselves. And then we did have her write a letter of apology. We told her that our trust was lost. And then we want you to write something to us. And then tomorrow read to us, she couldn't care less about the dishes. I mean, that was like not a big deal at all, but the letter, when I say broke her, literally broke her, it was, and I'm just thinking about that because of what you were saying. So would you put that as a, how would you frame what we did there? Well, that to me feels like repair, you're saying relationship and we need to respect that relationship and you've done something to disrespect our relationship. And so, therefore. It was a repair move. So that was good for us. Yes. Um, although when she did write the letter and then the next day I have to say, we were still pretty angry, so we weren't as impressed with it. We didn't say that she walked out of the room and we're like, eh, I would say I'd give that a C plus plus. Okay. Yeah. It's okay. Lisa, because we're human beings. And you know, when I have a conflict with my daughter and she apologizes and then for a little while after that is going, are you mad? Are you mad? I'll say it for the sin. The damage that you did to our relationship is not just going to be it's. It's kind of like the exercise that you do with elementary school kids to teach them about the power of their words, where if you make a crease in a piece of paper, you can't ever get rid of that crease, bend it. You can straighten it out, but the crease is always there. So I'll say to her, listen, I have, I'm a human being. I have feelings about this, and it's going to take me a little while to soften again and warm back up to you. I appreciate the apology letter. I appreciate the apology or whatever gesture you're making to repair it. But I also want you to recognize the discomfort that you're feeling, knowing that I'm unhappy with you. And it's not my job to take that discomfort away. It's your job to give me space, to move through the feelings that I have as a result of that choice. Because I think that happens a lot in our relationships with our, not just with our kids, with our partners, with our friends, that you know, all the sudden, if I've done something wrong and I apologize to you now, I want you to make me feel like it's okay. That's not our responsibility because that's not what our kids are gonna get in life. Right. And I'm thinking that as a, like a switch as well, like that should apply to the kids as well. Meaning they might still be angry with us. Right. And they might need space and, and them being angry and walking around and upset in my head, I should be saying, they just need space and they're going to take the time to soften. Right. So that's also a nice little flip between not just us, but for them. Yes, exactly. And that's it that I say to my daughter, I'm willing to compromise the comfort and warmth of our relationship. If that's what I have to do to hold a boundary that I feel is important to hold and our lack of tolerance as human beings for other people being unhappy with us is often a big problem in our relationships that causes us to Fon, you know, the, the fight-flight-freeze response. Um, that's our stress response that in the last 10 years with trauma research has really talked a lot about people pleasing that we so quickly want to feel safe by removing anyone's dissatisfaction or unhappiness with us. And that can happen in the parent child relationship and cause a lot of inconsistency like parents who, you know, set a boundary and then they don't like the feeling of their child's sulking. And so they give in right with that kid learning that they can manipulate people with their anger and you know, so we have to really recognize. That's why I love that BRAVING, um, acronym because it's on both sides, right. Parents have to do that for their kids. And we need to ask them to do that for us. Right. And it's mutual. And just because they're younger doesn't mean that they don't have the basic human rights of those seven elements of trust, that healthy human relationships really in a best-case scenario would embody.

All together. And then there's so much information here. Like I feel like you walk around and you have all this knowledge that just comes out of you.

 If you can just put things in just like a nutshell, what, what would you think is the most important pieces as parents kind of travel through this teenage phase, this more independent kind of feeling like they're starting to pull apart a little bit more. Yeah. What would you let the listeners know?

The perspective that I get from my teenage clients is not something that everyone is privy to. We should all be able to somewhere inside of ourselves, remember what it was like to be not, we don't have to remember what it was like to be a teenager, but remember what it feels like to be in a position where you feel disempowered because of your age or because of the role in the relationship. I mean, we can feel disempowered now as adults in our professional relationships and our social relationships. And we know that people having power over us is triggering. Right. We want leaders who have power who empower us. I think all of us can somewhere inside of ourselves, tap into that empathy, even if it doesn't come from our teenage years. And so remembering that, I mean, I once heard that somebody said the most oppressed population are human beings under the age of 18 because until you are 18, you are basically under the complete rule of the adults who are your legal guardians.

There is a lot of weight on the power that we hold as parents that we really have to remember and respect because it's very easy for us to waive that power when we feel scared children are doing, or when we feel, um, like we don't know what to do. So we just rule with an iron fist as human beings. If our fight-flight-freeze and responses are our stress response, then we often will use fight with our kids and use that power to try and control them because we're scared. And you know, I don't, I don't really know how to summarize this into a nutshell, but I feel like that's the thing. Yeah. We need to be the most aware of is that the more we try to have power over our kids, the more likely they are to be secretive and the more likely they are to shut us out. And then the cycle that I see people fall into is that starts to happen. And they lean further in and they try to have more power and hide more and they need to feel like there's breathing room and room to explore. And they're going to experiment. My kid has told me about things that I'm like, okay, respond to this the right way, respond to this because if they're talking to you about their experimentation, then you get to be able to talk to them, right? Yeah. You are just angry and ground them.

They're still going to experiment. They're just not telling you about it. And they're going to ask for information from elsewhere. So I guess in a nutshell, Lisa, that paying attention to when you are in your lizard brain, that fight flight freeze, fond response, and not parenting from that state, but recognizing when you're there and maybe saying, I need some time to think about this, I'm going to come back to you with a consequence. Oh yeah. You know, I'm really disappointed and upset, but I need to sort through my feelings first because it's in that lizard brain that we say things that damage our kids, that we make choices that damage our kids.

And then that damages our relationship and that damage can go well into their adulthood. Um,. And I also think some of those things are actually our own things and that has nothing really to do with our kids. You know, sometimes we're still working on our own issues that, you know, making the situation much worse than it needed to be like, it's our own fears. So looking at what's ours and what's theirs and what we need to deal with. Right. Absolutely. Because we can be so triggered by our own histories and stuff that, you know, we want to just assume that whatever it is that they're going through is exactly like we'll live through that looks like that when it's,. So we're protecting them from something that was ours that they'll never even encounter or doesn't.

 

Right. Absolutely. We're not born with resiliency. We have to learn how to be resilient by going through hard situations. And we can't protect our kids from that as much as we want to. Yeah And I think a parent once also said to me, um, you know, as they get older, they need you more. Right. And I think that's always, always stuck with me a little bit because you know, when they're little, they need you for everything really, when they're big, they need you more for much bigger things. And I think just realizing that it's okay if you're triggered, as long as you recognize it, take the space you need to not project that onto your children. Yeah. Which is not easy. Yeah. It's hard to do, really. Hard to do really hard to do.

 

Jenny. This is awesome. You are, once again, you're so knowledgeable,  I mean, but it's just not knowledge like book knowledge. You, you really practice what you preach and that's why we love you. I will tell you in the spirit of vulnerability and humility, I am a human being that makes a lot of mistakes that I don't feel proud of as a therapist or as a parent. And I think that is why I value Bene Brown so much and hope that people listening to this will also walk away with the idea that vulnerability and honesty is what makes us all feel less alone. And that sense of being less alone is a huge piece of self compassion. And self-compassion, it's a huge piece of resiliency and being able to parent without shame.

Beautifully said, well, thank you so much for coming to our show. My family's listening. I'm sure at the door waiting to hear.

We'll tell them all I say hello,.

Thank you for listening to our show today. Jenny has given us a great perspective of what our teens may be dealing with and some tools for us to use as they navigate through this phase of their life. I love to keep talking about this topic on our Facebook page and don't forget to follow Real Life Momz so you don't miss an episode.




 

 










Jenny Hecht Profile Photo

Jenny Hecht

Therapist/Advocate/Mom

Jenny is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Yoga Teacher with over 20 years of experience working with middle school and high school-aged youth and adults in a variety of settings. She is a passionate advocate for suicide prevention, serving as the clinical trainer and board member for Colie's Closet, a Boulder Valley School District Peer Education program focused on depression and suicide awareness. Jenny is also a regional trainer for the national suicide prevention program, Sources of Strength, a comprehensive wellness program that seeks to empower and build resiliency in individuals and communities. She is a frequent presenter throughout the state of Colorado sought after for her expertise in regards to resiliency, as well as the specific social-emotional needs of the gifted and neurodivergent population. Jenny lives in Lafayette, CO with her husband of 22 years and her 16-year-old daughter, as well as a few fur babies.