Teen Parenting Expert’s Tip of the Month – December

Be Happy Anyway
By Barbara McRae, MCC

Parents often find it challenging to stop worrying so much. Their focus tends to be on what doesn’t seem to be meeting their expectations or what awful thing might happen in the future.

Let’s take Sharon’s example; she’s a mom of three teens. She’s intellectually sharp and has a need to be highly organized. Two of her kids share this trait, but the youngest one, Henry, doesn’t. Sharon was accustomed to the smoothness of life with her older children and wondered where she had gone wrong with her youngest child.

Sharon feels unhappy and terribly disappointed in her son. He’s forgetful and needs to be given very specific instructions and still, he just didn’t seem to “get it.” He’s always been a high-maintenance kid. She thought he’d grow out of it, but now that he’s a teenager, he’s actually gotten more difficult. She doesn’t want to keep “mothering him” and worries that his poor organizational skills will keep him from getting the grades he needs to get through college and become gainfully employed.

Henry sees it differently. He thinks his mom is too critical, rule-bound, too detailed, and a perfectionist. His feedback shocked and troubled her, causing her to reach out for coaching. In addition to working with Henry on how to minimize his seeming weakness, mom and I began by exploring how to be happy right now instead of delaying happiness until everything in her life is exactly the way she thinks it ought to be.

Holidays can be even tough on families. There’s so much pressure to get along and fit into a Norman Rockwell painting. Enjoying each other’s company is easier when we stay focused on what we can appreciate about each person.

ACTION STEP:
To bring more happiness into your current life, realize that happiness resides inside of you.
Your happiness is not dependent upon others. They cannot control you. Only you can do that! Your thoughts determine how you feel. You can choose to be happy right now. Begin noticing what you can feel happy about. If you haven’t cultivated this habit yet, it can feel strange at first. With practice, you’ll suddenly notice how much easier your life is when you’re feeling good.

Consider the statement, “Happy as a clam!” Why are clams naturally happy? What is it that they know that we don’t? Nature, in its wisdom, understands that it is far better to be in harmony with what may appear to be imperfect. Clams, like oysters, form layers of organic material over irritating grains sand. They don’t rage against the debris or fight to remove it—they simply align with it and coat it with a smooth substance that makes it easier to live with.

Clams know that this is a better strategy than struggle. Next time an irritation surfaces with another person or situation, see it as just a “clam thing,” take appropriate action, and keep smiling.

My best,

Barbara McRae, MCC
Teen Parenting Expert, Campus Calm

© Barbara McRae

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