by Megan de Beyer
My body is still on high alert. I feel it in the way I breath and the way my digestion and sleep has a rhythm of it’s own. My body is still adjusting to indoors and so are my thoughts and feelings. I see my friends and family, on zoom chat, putting on a brave front, yet I can see the dread of the lockdown in their eyes.
I am a psychologist. I am the author of ‘How to Raise a Man’ and have dealt with families, mothers and teenagers for 30 years. I should be able to help. Yet I too have to adjust, separated from loved ones, torn from routines and healthy habits too. It’s not easy. “I am the parent”, you say to yourself, “I should be taking the struggles away and helping them feel safe.” Yet you feel helpless and vulnerable too.
I have put my thinking cap on for you. I want to help, so I must turn to what helps me.
- Show up for yourself first.
Sit still and feel the sensations. Practice the breath cycle. IN for 4 , hold for 7 and OUT for 8. Breath until you can do this easily. Then journal for 10 minutes. Write your feelings, thoughts or ideas down. Let it be a ‘stream of consciousness’ and don’t think it through. If writing is not for you, then sketch, doodle or move your body. Express naturally and easily. Be curious and not critical.
2. Focus on what you can control
What can you control? Your attitude and your attention. It starts with your attitude towards yourself first. Can you be kinder and more forgiving of yourself right now? Then can you be warmer, lighter and understanding of your children, teens and partner. Attention is also a tool. How do you pay attention? I suggest with an open mind, open heart and a willingness to engage.
3. Set your parenting intention.
What do you hope to achieve in these 21 days? Use your imagination here. What would a beautiful and harmonious ecosystem look like? How does that feel? Let the image full your inner experience. What can a parent do to bring light, love and laughter to a dismal situation? What is most important now? It can be as simple as: “people before things.” Think of your intention like a mission statement you want to achieve as a parent.
4. Create a family intention.
Have a group meeting and a team talk (we are all in this together). Create a team mission statement. “During this time we want to be……..and do……….”. Even if your teen says: “I want everyone to leave me alone!” Let everyone have a say. If no one’s up for it, plant the seed and set a date with everyone and re-group the next day.
5. Have some fun.
Turn the mundane into the magic. For boys it needs some noise and action. Picnic on a blanket even if it’s in the lounge; have a joint zoom party with another family; practice yoga or take a dance class together via YouTube; share music playlists; play board games or cards or 30 seconds; Google some general knowledge questions and ask them; reignite story time- chose an action or sci-fi novel and read it to the family after a meal; cook together. Schedule joint ‘cross training’- let’s all get fit and build muscle. Remember boys often need a goal and an outcome.
6. Teach practical life skills
Teach teens whatever your able to do. Change a car or bicycle tyre; change a plug; set up a tent in the yard; test the pool water; make an extension for a lamp with tape; load a washing machine; iron shirts; make filter coffee; teach him how to create a home accounts spread sheet; paint a wall; plant some seeds in a pot. Teach him whatever DIY you can. Show him and leave him to do it.
7. Limit screen time through joint projects
Teens can go down the rabbit hole of gaming. Bring healthy options to his attention. There are loads of documentaries and online channels like Chatterpack, Curiosity stream, Skeptical Science and Headspace. Games, books, music, cooking, flower arranging, exercise, painting, writing and chatting can draw him away. Use it all.
Megan de Beyer is a Psychologist and author of “How to Raise a man- a modern mothers guide to parenting her teenage son.” Available At all major outlets and in ebook at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3alSw3w
Megan is offering a free online Zoom Mothers group on Mondays at 10 and is about her launch her online mothers and sons course. Find details on Facebook @howtoraiseaman or @strongmothers-strongsons