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Enabling teenagers

ParentsWorld December 2019 | Spotlight Feature

Kamlesh Patel is the fourth spiritual guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga meditation. Known to many as Daaji, he is the Heartfulness Guide who is bringing the essence of yogic spiritual practices to the modern world in a scientific way, in order to help people regulate their minds, manage their emotions, and elevate their consciousness to the highest possible approach.

If you want your toddler to brush his teeth before going to bed, you can educate, cajole, nag, scold, and try all the traditional methods available. Parenting is simpler when a child is young.

The teenage years can be a lot more challenging. So let it be a good challenge!

Let Autonomy Blossom

Gently Teenagers test boundaries, already imagining themselves to be adults, wanting to exercise their autonomy. The trick is to honour their growing autonomy and enable their freedom, while also  encouraging them to be responsible. In the ’80s, when my boys were born one after the other, I would receive a newsletter on how to raise children. The number one suggestion was, “Never say, ‘Do this’ directly.” Don’t teach them the art of rebelling at an early age.

The same is true for teenagers. Rather than giving direct instructions, we can say, “Could you please do this before you go to bed tonight?” or “Before you go to football practice, could you please run this errand for me?” You have then respected their boundaries, while at the same time given them the opportunity to do you a favour. Let it be a gentle process.

Research has shown that parents are still the biggest influence on their teenage children, despite peer pressure, teachers and the media, but they will not necessarily acknowledge it or express it in the same way a younger child would.

Spend Time Together 

Discipline cannot come overnight, and neither can bonding with your child. In fact here are two activities parents and children can do together, both before and during the teenage years. There are many more – it is about finding things you like to do together.

• Go camping. Go out into the woods, into nature, sleep under the stars, and talk about them. Identify certain constellations, discuss their names, and if there are any stories from mythology or epics, tell them and discuss
• Read together. Everyone loves stories. Spending time with our children is one of the most important gifts we can give them. It builds the foundation for the entire parenting journey. 

When they are teenagers, an inner awakening is there in them, and they are slowly shifting mentally and emotionally from their dependence on their parents to searching and discovering for themselves. How can we help guide them in the right direction?

Shaming to Enabling

When they do something wrong, it is not the end of the world. They are not stupid; they know they have made a mistake, but we make it worse by reminding them. Then they rebel. They already feel bad enough; they don’t need anyone to rub salt into the wound.

Love enables children. In the right environment, with parents, teachers and other adults as good role models, they are both enabled and ennobled.

Handling Technology

We are quick to point out how much time teenagers spend on the phones and on social media, but we stop learning things, and that is why our children say, “Oh, you don’t even know about this!” At least have some idea about certain advancements, and the changes happening in the world.

This is an extremely unique period in human history. Intense changes are taking place in both good and bad directions. We can help our children
to go in the right direction. 

Becoming Stronger

Sometimes teenagers make mistakes, and you are watching. Don’t let them go too far. Keep on guiding them sensitively and sensibly about the perils, but not by becoming negative.

Play your role in such a way that they don’t feel that you are controlling them. Peer pressure is very intense these days for teenagers to try all sorts of things. Help them remove the guilt that develops because of peer pressure. Give them confidence, “You have the ability to say ‘no’ to certain things. Use your wisdom; guide your friends. Let them be foolish if they insist, but you can still be wise.”

Teaching Meditation to Teenagers

Since time immemorial, we have examples of young people meditating, showing the world through their courage and bravery that the heart’s wisdom shines through at all times. When your children learn the art of relaxing and meditating, they will harness bravery and wisdom when they have a need. 

Conscious Parenting is that ability in a parent to nurture children’s willingness to listen to their hearts, and develop the courage to do so. 

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