Many parents will agree that having teenagers at home can be a challenging time – but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a wonderful relationship with them. Gita, mum of three children, shares with us her secrets behind the great relationship she has with her teenagers.
I’m grateful for having a really wonderful relationship with my children – but I would never say I’m a perfect mother. And it is challenging, yes. We don’t know everything, no one does. I was learning by doing.
It’s okay to make mistakes
I don’t say I’m perfect – so that contributes a lot, doing the inner work and being aware of my own shadows. I’ve been working on myself, and that opens a way to communicate with children. If you’re honest with them they don’t see you like a person they need to fight. Maybe this is why I don’t have problems with my kids.
All my children are allowed to call me out. I honestly say if I don’t know something, or if I messed up. I’m learning by doing and I’m sorry, I make mistakes. I think children don’t even expect you to be perfect: the most important thing for them is if you recognise that you are just a human and you make mistakes.
Yes, sometimes I get tired and irritated. It’s not easy to be a single mum. I divorced almost ten years ago. And there are moments when life gets busy and I get triggered, I get angry. And then I apologise, I say sorry. And that’s okay.
Be a good example
Children don’t listen to what we say or teach; they just watch what we do. That’s what they copy. This is the most important.
And they also challenge us. They are our biggest teachers. My oldest son was around five years old when I noticed those things in him I didn’t like in myself. I had a very low self-esteem, but I wanted him to be confident, because I didn’t want him to suffer like I did. But that’s not how it goes in life. I can’t just say to him “go and be more confident” because he’s copying me.
Children mirror us, they mirror what we say and what we do, they’re teaching us to communicate and really to look into ourselves. I had no self-respect and self-love, and I needed to learn that. Already my older son was nine and he had begun not respecting me, because he saw me not respecting myself, so that’s what he thought he had to do.
I needed to sort out my self-esteem if I wanted my children to do better. I started self-development work because I wanted to be a better mother. Now I’m a lot more relaxed, because when you have a lot of self-esteem it doesn’t matter what other people think. Some parents say to their children “don’t do this, don’t do that, because you will look bad” and it affects their self-worth.
Connect with your inner child
Remember how you were as a child and allow yourself to connect with your inner child. When you’re in touch with your inner child you’re so different with your children because you know what things and words can hurt. Psychologists say emotional abuse is much more damaging than physical abuse, and we still don’t pay attention to that.
When you embrace your inner child it’s so much easier to connect with your children. Play, be silly, enjoy a good joke, laugh. Life shouldn’t be so serious.
After my divorce when we didn’t have much I got creative. We didn’t even have a table, so I put some clothes on the floor and said “we’re going to eat like native Indians”. And the children loved it. Even after we got the table they would say “let’s eat on the floor”. And kids enjoy this creativity, making things look from a different perspective. It makes life more fun.
Take care of yourself
My children are proud when I look good. I remember when I was that age my own mum neglected herself and I was ashamed of that. Looks are important, they send a message about ourselves and how we feel on the inside. For teenagers, as they are stepping into adulthood, their looks become very important. They do take care of their looks, they observe how they look, they compare themselves to others.
It’s nice for children to see their mum from her best side. Take care of yourself, don’t let yourself go.
How we treat ourselves inside and what we think of ourselves shows in our looks, in the way we dress and take care of ourselves. I’m all about self-love and celebration. And when I say to my son “you’re such a show-off on Instagram” he says “mum, you said we have to celebrate ourselves”. And he’s so right.
Accept them for who they are
Perhaps the most important thing is to never shame them. That’s really terrible, shaming, emotional neglect and abuse, always criticising them, saying things that are hurtful. For children, parents are their only means of survival, and this is why it’s so damaging.
My oldest son is very responsible, the other two children like to have more fun, they don’t care about school so much, and I have to accept that. If they don’t do so well at mathematics, who cares? My son doesn’t do mathematics – but he’s a good businessman. My daughter, she has a strong will. If she is interested, she’ll do it. If she wants something, she’ll find a way. That’s what matters in life. Life is not like in school. It’s not just about the paper. Who cares about the paper if you don’t know how to use it?
Enjoy your teenagers
There’s so much stigma around teenagers. I always had a good relationship with my children and people used to say “oh wait till they’re teenagers” so I was a little bit scared – but it’s all right. Yes, they try things, they go out, they might get drunk; but it’s okay, I talk to them about that.
I think it becomes a problem when you have a disconnection with your child. Or when parents have a big ego and they have all the power and they look down on the children. They don’t like that and they will rebel.
The more suppressed the atmosphere is at home, the more they will rebel. Parents have to put their egos away.
Accept them for who they are. Do things together, have fun together. And hug them, have physical connection. Children need love. They’re like a flower: talking to them, loving them, they will grow into a beautiful, unique flower.
Thank you Gita for sharing your story with us ♥