Compassion begins with the parent’s ability to feel what the teen is feeling.
By Dr. Nelly Franoody-Zahiri
In the accelerated rush of our society today, it has taken me a decade to see what has been forgotten in Peace Learning Parenting. Parenting with the focus and the intention of knowing and feeling that we are all connected and that families do much better collectively when interacting and sharing values rather than perceiving each other as competitors in a highly individualistic society. To achieve this healthy emotional and social balance, and in order to stay connected, I suggest we add to our daily vitamins the following 5 Cs:
- Culture (meaning sensitivity to other Cultures) and
These are the Big Cs for Peace Learning Parenting.
Just ten years ago, the spirit that came of Hillary Clinton’s famous phrase and book “It Takes A Village”, encouraged an entire generation of new parents to put emphasis on one of the scientifically proven models for raising children: the notion that all families in our community are connected to our own family. That being mindful of this, and creating a circle of Co-operation, Compassion and Communication made parenting not only more of a shared and enriched experience, but also a more pleasurable one.
But after 9/11 and the confusion and turmoil of the new age of terror, these sound ideas have been infected by much media-generated fear about success, and thus, in the process, has infected contemporary parenting of teens with false notions of pressure and competition that hinder the development of the teen and cause unhappiness that can be avoided in many families. This has happened, unfortunately to such an extent, it is time to call for a return to the joy and the common sense of co-operation as embodied in the principles of Peace Learning Parenting.
Families today, are more caught up in the Social Media’s perspective of “Wild & Out Of Control Teen” that “I Hate My Teen” has become the new normal. Where in fact, it is during such sensitive times of development, that our teens need us the most. They need us to be strong, sound minded, compassionate and highly responsive to their social and emotional needs. To achieve this, you might feel more connected to your teen by gaining better insight into their personality styles. The first step is a better understanding of their temperament. Not in the sense of moodiness, but temperament in the true sense of personality tendencies, and temperament development. You can learn more about these tendencies at http://www.temperament.com and http://www.parents2parents.ca
Gaining insight into your teen’s behavioral, social, and emotional tendencies will lead to more empathy and sympathy while guiding your teen during these sensitive years. Another helpful step in Peace Learning Parenting of your teen is being aware of how the brain develops during these years. Understanding the role of chemical and hormonal changes, and how they influence your teen’s decision making and interpersonal relationships is essential. When you communicate with compassion and empathy it leads to a better understanding of their moodiness, which in turn elevates their Peace Learning Mindsight. ‘Mindsight’ has been a term used by one of the foremost authors on the subject of Attachment and Parenting, Dr. Daniel Siegel. This form of Peace Learning leads to the patience to stay attuned to your teen and being mindful of their different tendencies and cycles of regression due to development and growth. It is healthy and nurturing for the teen, and also relieves parents of stress based on what they feel are forces that are beyond their control.
Compassion begins with the parent’s ability to feel what the teen is feeling and to begin the dance of understanding. Like any dance, it is up to the parent to lead, and to lead with the heart. Remember, that the teen is biochemically changing in a natural way, and when your heart and mind are open and patient with these changes, the teen will feel secure and nurtured. The key is to be mindful of this state of empathy: feel what they feel that you feel, and know what they know that you know. Helping our teens feel ease about their growth related regressions, would help us stay connected, and we can do this much better as a community especially when the Home-School Connection is a strong and compassionate one.
Compassion is proven to be better for your overall health, and face it, the job of helping a teen find their identity and their happiness is a full-time job that calls for health rather than stress. If the parent remains connected to this Peace Learning Mindsight throughout these teen years, a more secure bond of love and attachment will be formed. Remember, with the compassion light on, the teen can deal better with the problems of teen frustration, when seemingly goals are blocked, and desires are rejected, because the parent is leading the dance, and is teaching the teen with every step that these goals and desires are never blocked forever, and that new and better pay-offs for the teen are just around the corner.
Only through Compassion and Self-Compassion, You Will Empower Your Teen & Your Community! It is this type of understanding which is most likely to lead to long lasting healthy relationships. Relationships that are building blocks to a healthy community of teens who are not afraid of stepping-up and making a difference. When we value and communicate to our teen that we are connected, and offer them support and a Whole Global Village of Empathy then we benefit from it as a community. It’s a Win-Win for all.
Dr. Nelly Farnoody-Zahiri is a Licensed Child and Family Psychologist who is a leader of the Peace Learning Parenting movement that helps children and families manage conflict, and make friends. She also hosts two TV Shows for the Iranian-American Community “Mom Talk LA” and “Peace Learning Parenting”. She’s a mother of three, who lives and practices in Los Angeles.