Empowering My Teen

Empowering my teen

Walking in the house this morning after running around since 530am getting people to their appointed places I thought, yes, a couple minutes of ME  time before I have to dive into work. Oh how sweet the thought!  After grabbing my coffee, I headed to my room preparing to immerse myself in writing. As I reached the top of the stairs, something told me to check my girls rooms to make sure they made their beds and got themselves to school. After checking the first room, I headed down the hall to ensure the youngest had done what she had committed too do. As I opened the door, I immediately thought, here we go again. She was in bed, her body hunched over and a look of defeat in her eyes. As I entered her room she piped up and said “I already know mom, you’re disappointed in me for not going to school again. I get it”. Given that her missing school has been a recurring theme lately, I blurted out “this is not ok” and walked out the room. Not one of my better mom moments. 

Despite knowing my daughter has severe anxiety, I couldn’t help but feel frustrated. I mean damn, I am a mindset and transformational coach for crying out loud. How is it that despite my best efforts, my baby is still crippled by fear. Knowing that coming from a place of anger or frustration would not help matters I took several deep breaths. I took a few moments to settle myself and then thought, what in the hell am I going to do? It was then that I knew and I headed back to her room. “ Baby”, I said, “may I hug you”? She looked up at me with sad eyes and agreed. She got up from her bed and I embraced her. Held her tight as I ran my fingers through her hair and told her I was sorry for how I reacted when I saw her. I went on to say that regardless of her choices, I would always love her. She pulled away from me and asked “you’re not mad at me mom”? My reply was ‘No baby, but I’m very sad for you. Sad because if you don’t start taking small steps to combat your fear, it will grow and facing the world will be even more difficult for you”. My heart hurt as I said these words to her, knowing that what I said was true. Wishing I could somehow take away her struggles.

Getting out in nature helps calm anxiety

I sat my brilliantly smart baby girl down and looked her square in the eyes and said “no one can save you from this. For you to conquer your fears, you must do the work on your own. You must start implementing some of the tools and techniques you’ve been taught if you want to take control of your anxiety”. Tools mind you, that I have been teaching her for more than two years. As I looked into her eyes I couldn’t help but hurt for her. While the  message was necessary, the look in her eyes told me she felt like she failed before she even started.  Damn this mom thing is hard! 

It was clear to me that she was shutting down so I gave her another hug and let her know that I would be in my room if she needed me. I told her I loved her and made my exit thinking, shit….. I don’t know how to reach her but I refuse to give up. Knowing that immersing myself in something else would help me worry less, I put my focus on my own self improvement work. As I went about reading and studying course material, a thought occurred to me. Why not have my baby research anxiety and report to me what she learns. My thinking, if my words to her can’t make an impact, then maybe the world wide web can. One can only hope. As I became firm in my decision I headed back to her room and shared with her my thoughts. If looks could kill……

As she sat in her room staring at me, aggravation exuding from her whole body, I said, “knowledge is power babes, the more information you have, the more informed you will be. The more informed you are, the better your decision making will be”.  And with that, I turned and walked out of her room, for me, the topic no longer up for discussion. 

Truthfully, as I headed back to my room I had no idea if what I was asking of her had any merit. While on the surface, empowering her with knowledge seemed like a good idea, I recognize she is only 12 and the information could easily be out of her scope of understanding. Despite my reservations, I stood firm in my decision and  went back to my work, hoping I had made the right choice. 

A few hours later, a knock on my door told me that my daughter was ready to talk. I beckoned her in and greeted her with a warm smile. “ Hi baby”, I said. “What’s up”? She told me she had researched anxiety and put together a report, including a plan of action she would implement to help her combat her fears. A slow grin spreading across my face after hearing her mention plan of actions. What can I say, it’s the leader in me. After reviewing her report and talking with her about what she had learned, I became convinced that I had made the right call. A massive sigh of relief coming over me. 

My reality is this: I’m educated in mental health,  have  tools for days to help people take control of anxiety, move through depression and take control of their lives. From fitness, to breath work, journaling and more, I have no shortage of ways to help my daughter take control of her mental health. But I  also realize that my daughter is 12 and any one of the many things she can add to her daily routine to help her with anxiety is work. Work that, if I was her age, I wouldn’t want to do either. Instead of waging war, punishing her for missing school or making her feel bad for not wanting to do the work, I empowered my daughter with knowledge. Knowledge that gives her the ability to decide how she wants her life to look like and what she must do to conquer fear. And while I’m under no illusion that my daughter still has an uphill battle to fight, I also know that she took one more step in the right direction toward overcoming her fears. 

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