You have to have “Amnesia” when raising your teens.
“You have to have amnesia when playing football.” Said one of the commentators when discussing the attitude of a football quarterback. This quarterback had thrown two interceptions in the heat of the NFL playoffs, but managed to put it behind him, during the game, to come back and win the game.
How many times do we as parents go over all the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” of raising our teens. We lament over all the mistakes we made and how our teens could have turned out differently if we had made the right choices.
Worse still are the parents who can’t move on leaving the mistakes of their teens behind them. I spoke to a parent recently who completely condemned her daughter. She talked about every single mistake she had made. This mom was so unforgiving that she was seriously thinking of going to court, to have the child taken away. Sadly, the teen was present during the whole exchange. Can you imagine the negative impact this had on the teen?
“Amnesia”, as the commentator used loosely, or more specifically, the ability to forget or at least to stop dwelling on the past is essential for maintaining great family relations.
1. Parents must consciously obliterate the past when raising teens.
I truly admire friends of mine whose child took them through so much pain during her teen years. She was almost unrecognizable in the disrespect she showed to her parents, and the havoc she wreaked at home. The parents were really patient but firm and consistent with discipline. They never made her feel unloved or that she was beyond redemption. The family is even closer now, having survived that difficulty in their life. The child knows she’s been forgiven. She made a mistake, they dealt with it then, and everyone learned from it. It’s in the past and life moves on. I learned a lesson from this family. Leave the past behind and give your children a new slate every day, and your children will not only appreciate you but will have great respect and a much better relationship with you.
2. Teens too must learn to forget the past wrongs of their parents
In my years as a pediatrician, I’ve come across teens who hold their parents in such contempt, and absolutely refuse to have anything to do with them. Some are literally counting the days till they can move out of their parents’ homes. I always caution them and advise them not to be so critical. You see, parenting is very difficult. Most parents learn as they go along. They start parenting based on how they were raised. Depending on where they are coming from, this may be good or not so good. Most parents want better for their children, but when you ask them how they want to achieve this, some really have no idea. Teens must realize that their parents did the best they could for them with the knowledge and resources they had at the time. If you as parent realize that you inadvertently harmed your child, admit it and ask for forgiveness, seek professional help and hopefully move on with the relationship. Being angry about a parent’s perceived mistakes, can sometimes be a crutch, and an excuse for teens not to achieve their highest potential. They give themselves the excuse, “it’s not my fault, it’s my parents fault.” I tell them to get over it and leave the past behind. Teens using their upbringing as an excuse not to excel is really a choice. They can choose to forget and create a better future for themselves.
3. Teach teens not to live off their parents glory
On the other hand, we have teens whose parents have excelled and done very well for themselves and for their children. The danger here is that the teens sometimes feel so entitled because “they are rich.” What they often don’t realize is, their parents are rich, not themselves. Unfortunately, some parents give their teens so many “toys” and liberties that these teens never learn the skills and wisdom needed to become useful members of society. Teens must learn from the wisdom and knowledge imparted to them and take pride in building their own legacy. They must forget any dependence on their parents wealth and create their own.
4. Spouses must be big enough to turn a blind eye and move on
Everyone knows the couple you dread being around because you know before the night is over, some transgression will be dragged up from the past and an argument will ensue. Couples embarrass themselves and their teens because they simply can’t learn to forgive and move on. Bitterness impacts the whole family negatively. Teens are always on edge because they know there is something brewing ready to erupt at the drop of a hat. This weakens the couple’s relationship with each other and with their teens. The worst part is parents who involve their teens in the argument and try to get them to take sides. Parents, be big enough to forgive and forget the past and move on. If it is necessary, seek counseling, deal with the problem and move on. Unfortunately, when teens are raised in such environments, they take this attitude of mistrust and fault-finding into their own relations. Both the parents and their teens deserve better. Deal with the problem, leave it behind and move on.
A little “amnesia” in family relationships goes a long way towards creating peace and harmony in the home. We can’t always control what happens to us but we can certainly choose how we respond to life’s circumstances, choose the best part and leave the rest behind. Being able to let go the past helps you live happier in the present, and create a better future for your teens.