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Hate The Sin, Not The Sinner

Andrea Ramsay Speers - Tuesday, May 07, 2013

As parents we are so often gobsmacked by our teen's behaviour.  We expect toddlers to write on walls and to throw their spaghetti across the kitchen, and we try our hardest not to let that get in the way of the love we are sending to them.  And yet once our kids reach the teen years, we seem, in a way, so much more vulnerable to their behaviour, and take much more of it personally than we did when they were younger. 

And in the face of body piercings, failing grades, and a stand-offish attitude, it can be difficult to remember that our teens need our love and support just as much as they always did.  While they can be harder to forgive, and while it can appear that they couldn't care less what we think about them, it is still critical that they understand that our love for them is not conditional. 

As a psychotherapist, when I see a kid sulk into my office, glare at me suspiciously, and refuse to speak, I see a kid who needs to feel valued, appreciated, and needed.  But that's easier for me to see, because I'm not the one dealing with broken curfews and rude friends making short work of my house. 

Jane Nelsen, in her great book Positive Discipline book poses the question, "Where did we get the idea that in order for our kids to do better we have to make them feel worse?"  And I think that's really key for dealing with teenagers. 

It's easy to love compliant, helpful, cheerful, communicative, responsive kids.  But when our kids aren't all these things, that doesn't mean that they need our love and concern any less.  I would argue, they actually need it more.

What challenges have you had in this area?

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Andrea Ramsay Speers • Psychotherapist & Parent Coach • Oakville Family Institute • 175 Glenashton Dr., Oakville ON • Tel.: 905-491-6949

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