Last Saturday, I attended a very enlightening and enriching parenting workshop called “Space of a Child” conducted by Ma Rishi Advait who is the Head of Enlightened Education in Nithyananda Dhyanapeeta, a Vedic school in Bangalore, India. The topic was about “Teens and Tantrums in Children”. The biggest click I got out of the session about teenagers was – the Power of Listening. I realized that many of the problems we face with modern teenagers can be solved if only we listen to them without judging and stop making them what we want them to be.
Many of us tend to think that teenage is a problematic life stage which everyone has to go through in the process of growing up. While it is true that a child starts trying new things through trial and error as young as 10 years old, however, as parents we should not perceive this life stage to be problematic or start labelling him as mature and treat him as adult. This is one major mistake many parents make when they deal with teenagers. The truth is, besides undergoing certain bodily changes with raging hormones which can imbalance their mental and emotional stability; teenagers are also at a stage of searching to form their own identity. Many of them are merely acting, experimenting and faking it just to make it.
Another important thing we need to be mindful of is teenagers adore privacy and they will start to demand more privacy from parents. But as wise parents, we should not give them too much privacy because in their exploration of many things by themselves, they don’t know other dangers that come with it. They are not yet capable of cognizing life at that age; hence they still need parental guidance in a form of listening and inspiring them.
The greatest problem in our society is – many parents have not spent quality time and effort in developing a communication between them and their children since young age. This is typical in a double-income family where both parents are so busy establishing their career, chasing after a high-flying job or making ends meet such that they neglect their communication with children. The demands and stress from work commitment often make parents time-pressured, tired, insensitive and impatient; as a result, they often end up feeling frustrated or arguing with their teenagers. My sincere advice to parents is – if you are unwilling to take responsibility for your child’s development and expansion, don’t bring them to planet earth. If you have already brought them here, please take the responsibility in listening to them and be with them.
One sacred secret about the “Space of a Child” is children come from a pure space where there is no idea of mental processing such as reasoning or judging. They live in a space of solutions, not planning or thinking. They just download like an internet connection whenever they need the information. This is a beautiful space to be in as it is a space of huge possibilities. For adults, we need a little effort to connect to the space of a child which is new to us because we had moved away from this space for too long. The key to get back to this space is LISTENING. Whenever we are listening, we are in the space of a child. Listening to teenagers is very powerful as it will bring them back to the space of a child. The moment we listen, the very listening heals them and gives them expansion. They will begin to have doubts about their reactions, they will start to calm down and become authentic again. That’s the power of listening only if parents are able to hold this space for them to experience their authenticity again. This is so true when I experienced it with my 10- year-old son. Whenever I listen to him, we are able to communicate at a deeper level and in that space of a child, he just listens completely to what I have to share, everything just flows with understanding without resistance. How awesome! The more and more we trust listening is life without judging, the more we are able to be with our children and enjoy them. Even though it will be another three of years before my son turns a teen, I am grateful that I already have these enlightening insights and practical tips when the time comes.
In the exploration of their own identity, it is great happening if teenagers discover their passion in life. As parents, we need to stretch ourselves to catch up with their passions so that we are in touch with their life. Whether it is art, dance, music, design, leadership or anything, we need to understand that all children have come down for a purpose, as parents we are here to help fulfill their life mission. The two important things that will bring them tremendous fulfillment and satisfaction are TRUE PASSION and CREATIVITY, not what we want them to be. If not, they will start getting into all kinds of perversions and addictions in life such as drugs, alcohol, sex, pornography and gambling.
If they are lucky enough to have discovered their true passion early in life, They should be taught the right context of competition. Competition can be a great blessing only if it is used to continuously raise himself to the next level, not against others. This is because obsessive comparison with others only leads to arrogance or low self esteem due to jealousy which blocks the creative flow of energy. If a child is able to stretch himself/herself, he or she lives in a space of great possibilities. This will be the greatest celebration for parents!
So from the power of listening, you begin to establish a communication bridge between you and your child. Eventually, the next level of expansion is to move from communication into communion. This can happen if you are also working towards completion with yourself, with others and life. From the space of completion, you can easily understand their pure space, then communion happens where there is no talking only trust and confidence. I have the fortunate of experiencing a very special communion between my son and I. He told me a couple of times that he was able to feel me when I was away from him around 100 meters in radius. He just sensed from his heart which would guide him to find me where I was walking in the market. As a mother, I just know whatever he does, he always comes from the pure space of love and innocence, and I don’t have an iota of doubt in him because I am constantly holding the space of possibilities for him.
In essence, listening not only heals and gives expansion; it also puts your teenage child back to the space of a child where communication can flow between you and him/her. The more you are able to listen, the more you will be able to hold a space of possibility for your child to be who he/she wants to be! Namaste. 🙂