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Sunday, December 19, 2010

Teenagers, Turmoil and Tributes

This is not what I would normally put in a blog post, but as we approach Christmas, a time of celebration with family, it is also a time to reflect on the year as it draws to a close.

I have had many challenges this year particularly with the prodigal teenage daughter. This challenge continues but at least I have the additional support of other parents going through similar turmoil with their teenagers. I refer to Tough Love, a great group of volunteers who support each other while they battle the challenges of giving tough love to their teenagers who have made poor choices.

As I look outside it is again another grey and rainy day. About 6 weeks ago I felt compelled to write some words, words which were reflective of my mood at the time. I would like to share these with you…….

The world seems grey
The grey skies a reflection of my sorrow
The heavens weep tears for a soul who has left this mortal world
I am surrounded by people
Yet I feel so alone in my grief

I dedicate this blog post in memory of my mum, Pamela, who passed away on 30th September 2010 after a two year battle with cancer.

I have been blessed with the support of family and very good friends and work colleagues. I thank you all for your support during this very sad time. I wish you all a safe and happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I look forward to 2011 with renewed hope and an inner strength gained from the resilience of facing challenges thrust upon me during 2010.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Teenager adds mum on Facebook

You know that you have your teenagers trust when they add you as a friend on Facebook. This happened last week when my youngest child finally allowed me to become her Facebook friend. I have been very careful not to betray that trust by reframing from writing comments that may embarrass her. In fact I haven't been game to write or comment on anything at the moment. She has been waiting for me to write about her in my blog and so here is her opportunity to shine and be a feature in my blog. At age 15 she is a very focussed young lady wanting to become a personal trainer. She is embarking on study next year to achieve that goal. She assures me that she will be dedicated and focused and be better at getting her homework and assignments done in time. She has a great passion for helping kids who struggle with weight problems and I am sure she will achieve this goal. Rachel's aim is to be on "The Biggest Loser" as the coach. So move over Michelle, Rachel has her sights set. I am extremely proud of my daughter and wish her well in her future study and career.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Tough Love in progress!

Some time back I posted an article on Tough Love. While it has taken me a few months, I finally plucked up courage to attend my first Tough Love meeting. I was very impressed by the professional way the meeting was structured and run. After a very thorough induction process explaining the rules, guidelines and focus of the group, I joined the main group. While there were opportunities to share our own experiences, the focus of the evening was to learn new ways to build our own strategies with confidence and support of other parents going through similar situations. I have homework to do, a book to read (just a short one) and a goal for the week. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Inspiring teenagers, our future leaders

I had the privilege of witnessing some very inspirational teenagers go through a rite of passage as they completed their final school year, well almost – 1 week to go. I refer to the awards night (some may know this as speech night) of a school which although having some challenges over the past year continues to inspire and equip its students to achieve incredible things. This was evident in a celebration of the achievements of students from prep through to year 12. The evening while full of encouragement and accolades for students also showcased student achievements with performances from the colorful and always cute year ones to the traditional final performance by the year 12s and all of this within a 2 hour timeslot thanks to the organization skills in particular of the deputy principal and teachers. For me one of the highlights of the evening was the year 12’s final performance of the song “I Believe” performed in the movie “Honey”. What an incredible finish to their school life. The students while somewhat restricted in their movements as they were dressed in their formal school uniforms still produced an inspirational rendition of the song and dance. Great axel James!!!

I wish all of the year 12s every success in their future lives. You have been given a great start by a school that cares not just about your schooling but cares about you.

Well done our future leaders you are truly amazing.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Teenager turns a corner?

My nearly out of her teens teenager has turned a corner. Maybe. She had moved back home for a while although spent more time away from the family home only returning in our absence to devour the contents of the fridge and create a heap of dirty dishes disappearing again like a thief in the night. She came home the other evening waving a lease document, with her name on it, in front of our eyes. With, I am hoping genuine heartfelt regret for her more recent horrible behaviour, she announced that she had found somewhere to live and has a job interview next week at a workplace nearby to the not so new abode which she will share with two other people we have never met before. So has she turned a corner or is she driving us around the bend yet again? Watch this space!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Talented teenagers take to the ice

Over the last few days many talented teenagers and younger competed in the state titles of the Figure Skating Championships in ice skating at the Boondall ice skating rink. The state representative team was selected from this group of skaters who competed in one or more areas of ice skating including figure, synchronised, ice dance and pairs. The team will represent Queensland at the national figure skating titles to be held in Melbourne in late November this year. Congratulations to the very talented ice skaters who competed over the last 4 days. Well done to all who participated.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tough Love for Teenagers

I started this blog as a sort of therapy and hopefully assistance to other parents going through the challenges of dealing with wayward teenagers. A very good friend of mine showed me an article in the Saturday newspaper recently. It was about a parent support group called Toughlove. This is just what I have been looking for and so I am sharing information from their website with you asI feel that it says it all. I have also put a link to their website in the links section.

TOUGHLOVE was started in the 1970's by Phyllis and David York. The Yorks were family therapists who worked in one of the most famous drug and alcohol rehabs of its time, training counselors, working with clients and their families, and conducting a private practice in addition to being State Drug and Alcohol Trainers for Pennsylvania.

While they were gaining acclaim as experts in their fields, they were suffering the same kinds of problems we all have here - their kids were out of control. They tried everything - counseling, therapy for the kids, themselves, the family, private school, judo lessons, riding lessons, getting tougher, more permissive, more understanding, etc.

Nothing worked, and things got worse until their daughter was arrested for armed robbery. Then the Yorks asked other adults to intervene for them. They took a STAND that said, "We will not tolerate a criminal in our house."

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Prodigal teenager (daughter) returns

You know the biblical story of the prodigal son, who after demanding his inheritance early, left the family home and squandered it away on anything and everything as long as it was fun and frivolous. Well the prodigal teenage daughter returned but just for two weeks. She took off to Melbourne in search of a better life???? Maybe she was just looking for a life with less parental restrictions, a life full of fun and friends and parties and bands. I don’t believe that her life is necessarily better when she struggles to eke out an existence. It was her choice to move away with little means of support. We could have chased after her, given her money and kept looking after her but we didn’t. At nearly 20 years old we felt that it was up to her to make her own choices and take the consequences for those choices.

It’s called tough love. I am not sure who it is toughest on the parent or the teenager. We hugged and we cried as I explained to her how much it hurt to have to watch her struggle to make ends meet, eking out an existence on very limited resources but all due to the choices that she has made in life. She could be living in a comfortable home but was not prepared to take the responsibilities and house rules that came with that option.

The difference between the prodigal son in the bible story and our own prodigal daughter is that the prodigal son in the bible story learnt a valuable life lesson and was prepared to make amends for his life choices. The prodigal daughter is yet to learn these lessons and continues to make poor life choices and suffer for them.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Parenting!!! It’s a matter of perspective.

I finished off a very busy week at work last week with an opportunity to have some time out doing something I like, visiting a local craft show, with one of my very dear friends, Tricia.

Tricia has been one of my role models of the perfect parent. Someone who is always there for her kids with lots of love with firm but fair discipline. Her home is always spotless and tidy and she always serves up nutritious home cooked meals to the family. She and her husband along with the kids and help of a builder friend to advise them even built their own deck extension. I first met Tricia when she became my eldest daughter’s family day care mum after I went back to work fulltime. With a young baby of her own, Tricia took on the added responsibility of looking after someone else’s child. Kimberley was a challenging child who at 5pm every day screamed – because she could. Eventually after a couple of family day care mums and a child care centre and the birth of my second child it was time to resign from work and be an at home mum for a while. I too became a family day care mum but unlike Tricia, I only lasted 8 months in the role as I found it exhausting. Tricia on the other hand stayed in the role for at least another 10 years or more.

Following a great evening of looking at and buying craft, Tricia and I were having a chat over a coffee. Imagine my surprise when Tricia announced that I, along with another mum who also works full time, were in fact people whom she admired. It’s a matter of perspective.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Teenagers Taxi!!! Who said a woman’s place is in the home?

They were wrong it’s in the car. Actually that goes for the dads as well as the mums. Let’s not be too gender specific here. Both parents can and usually do share in taxiing of teenagers to sporting activities, social events, school and extracurricular activities and part time work.

Ahh!!! the weekend is here. It’s time to relax after a busy and challenging yet very productive week at work. So I look around my house to see a backlog of washing waiting for me and the never ending tidying up that needs to be done and yet never seems to be completed before someone messes things up again. Why is it that I can be really well organized coordinating people at work and yet I can’t seem to coordinate myself and my family to achieve tasks which need to be done at home?

Ok so back to the Teenager Taxi Service. I do admit that this is one thing that does take some time out of the day. While the actual transporting of teenagers from one place to another does not take long, it is scheduling drop off and pick up times to different activities for different members of the family and the constant clock watching required to achieve this that takes the time. OK so that is my excuse but let’s face it I lack the self discipline to work to a schedule at home and would rather do something creative than doing the domestic duties which surround me. So I had better stop blogging, get off my butt and start cleaning, washing, tidying before I have to go and taxi my teenagers again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Parents elevated to super status!!!

Supermum runs her own business, raises six young children, supports her husband and in her spare time collects endangered species while trekking through the Amazon!!!

Oh please, if I hear another stereotypical story of yet another person performing superhuman feats to achieve the unattainable work, family, life balance all with social and political correctness I think I will vomit!!!

Have we in fact gone too far? Life was certainly a lot simpler when women were at home bringing up the children, supporting their spouse and keeping everything going on the home front. Food was simple fare, meat and three veg. Often veges were home grown in the back garden. There was no fast food, kids walked to and from school and playing games meant throwing a ball outside or having a game of footy with your mates or riding bikes or scooters around the neighbourhood. Men went out to work, came home to an adoring spouse and children warmly greeting him as he walked through the door and sat down to a beautiful home cooked meal.

We now find ourselves in a time warp, trapped between two eras and societal expectations. As children, we were brought up with the traditional way of life of the 60’s and 70’s. Our parents and others equally ingrained with this traditional way of life have the expectation that we will also follow their example of bringing up children and keeping house as they did. These days it has almost become a necessity for both parents to be in the paid workforce. With this change in work dynamics there has also been a shift in roles and responsibilities on the home front. While many couples are now sharing domestic duties, teenager taxi service, bill paying etc., on top of their work commitments there are those who are very quick to judge if all is not perfect and organized on the home front.

Media has a great deal to answer to for their portrayal of women somehow achieving what seems to be the unachievable, holding up examples of women achieving great success in every aspect in their lives supposedly with no outside assistance. I personally struggle to manage a household, be there for my teenagers and my spouse and try to develop my career before anyone notices the greying hair and skin threatening to wrinkle at any moment and decides to put me out to pasture. Meals at our house, are generally on the run fitting in with sporting, social and work commitments of teenagers. Both my spouse and I are clutterholics, a legacy of that traditional era where you did not throw out anything as it may come in handy someday. When I made a concerted effort recently, to have nutritious home cooked meals on the table and insisted that we all sit down together to eat, my 15 year old daughter told me to stop being that type of mum that she preferred me the way I was despite the fact that the house was not perfectly tidy and the meals weren’t meticulously prepared and served. I guess your teenagers will let you know that they love you for who you really are and not for what society expects you to be.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

TEENAGERS: Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.

Teenagers and their behaviours can be challenging but we love them just the same.

How’s this for a reality check? Imagine that your teenager suddenly becomes seriously ill. You watch helplessly as the life seems to drain away from your child. Scary! Yes VERY, especially for one family that this scenario happened to recently. Their teenager developed Diabetes Type 1. The onset and severity was so fast that it shocked everyone. I can’t begin to imagine the anguish and helplessness that the family must have felt at the time. Fortunately their child was diagnosed quickly and treated in hospital but their lives have now profoundly changed. This has impacted on not only their whole family, but on all of those who know their family. Fortunately they have the ongoing assistance of some fantastic health care professionals as well as support groups connecting this family to other families in similar situations. (see link)

I am reminded of another family whose lives were profoundly affected after their 14 year old daughter was tragically killed in a boating accident in Sydney Harbour in March 2007. Fourteen year old Morgan Innes was a very talented ice skater and a beautiful person. She had a warm, friendly and outgoing nature and was very much loved by all who came to know her.

What happened next was truly inspiring. The day after Morgan’s funeral in Brisbane, a still grief stricken Robert Innes, Morgan's father, flew to Sydney to establish and secure funding for the Morgan Innes Foundation. The Foundation was established to honour the lives of seven people drawn together by their love of figure skating (four people died tragically and three seriously injured in the collision between a boat and ferry on Sydney Harbour on 28th March, 2007).

Each year the Morgan Innes Foundation awards a scholarship to an up and coming figure skater to undertake comprehensive training programs with elite coaches overseas. The Foundation also assists disadvantaged youth who meet the selection criteria established by the sport’s governing body, Ice Skating Australia (ISA) and who have not had the chance to experience the joy of ice skating. (see link)

Saturday, June 19, 2010

They don't call them TeenAGERS for nothing!

Have you ever got up in the morning and looked in the mirror and wondered who the hell that person is staring back at you? It's definately not you - they have bags under their eyes, wrinkles, greying, out of control hair and look at least 20 years older than you think you should look. After all you are only 30! Hmmmmmmm. Many things may cause this look that stares back at you from the mirror. Yes we all age but sometimes this process is helped along a bit by stress. The stress caused by being there for everybody else especially energy draining, self absorbed, emotional, teenagers. After all the universe does revolve around them didn't you know?

I recently had a health scare which put me in hospital. Because I had the three "F's" Fifty, Flabby and Family history, they decided to keep me in hospital for a while for observation and to do more tests. While all was well, I did feel like a bit of a fraud but I am told that stress can give similar symptoms to a heart attack. Well a few days in hospital away from work and family, while not my idea of the perfect holiday, certainly gave me time to rest, destress and think about some of my life choices.

To be continued. . . . . . . .

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

5 tips to being a Cool Parent!!!

  1. Sing along to a Marilyn Manson song, if you're game, while you are taxiing your teenagers around. Tip - Make sure the windows are up.
  2. Buy yourself a pair of Converse All Stars or Chuck Taylors. They are surprisingly comfortable. I would suggest a discount outlet as they are ridiculously expensive for a flat pair of joggers.
  3. Start your own Facebook page. My then 14 yr old set mine up for me but refuses to "Add Me" as a friend - expect that. When you've done that why don't you get really adventurous and start your own blog?
  4. Learn how to text or txt on your mobile phone including all short forms LOL, ROFL, GR8, UR etc. Predictive text takes a bit of getting used to but it is quicker in the long run.
  5. If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about in 1,2,3 and 4 then you had better learn fast from your teenagers while they are still talking to you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Field of Dreams

This has got to be one of my all time favourite movies. Yes I know it is about baseball but it is about so much more than that. It is about choices that we make throughout our lives and the consequences and sometimes the regrets of some of those choices.

Choices made by impetuous youth rebelling against their parents, the older generation, only to find that years later they are filled with remorse for a moment in time lost forever and a deep yearning to make amends but all too late.

Kevin Costner's character is given a second chance to make amends but he has to take a huge leap of faith and follow his intuition and gut instinct and go against the mainstream, ploughing in his crop of corn to build a baseball field, much to the bemusement and ridicule of local farmers.

Only those who truly believed could see the ghostly apparitions, baseball players of yesterday in their former glory just as they had played some 50 years earlier when they were living legends.

The "voices" said "Ease his pain". We are left puzzling over whose pain and what pain is to be eased. The pain of regret perhaps and the chance for a now grown, wiser, man, with a family of his own, to see his father as the young vibrant man that he once was. It's a second chance to communicate and rebuild a relationship that had been lost in the rebelliousness of youth.

Every time I watch this film I am moved to tears, not by sadness, but by the joy of a relationship mended, a bond restored. A truly beautiful moment!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

We have always strived to instill in our children a sense of caring and compassion for people but sometimes this comes around and bites you in the bum!

Sometimes we have unexpected guests who our teenagers have sprung upon us. It is not necessarily dinner they come for, I doubt that anyone would actually be that keen to savour my cooking. Invariably it is a last minute plea for friends, who we haven't previously met, to stay the night, always followed with an emotion laiden comment like "they have nowhere else to go" or "they've just been kicked out.

Our general rule is that they can stay one night. This way their immediate needs are met. They are safe and sheltered and have somewhere comfortable to sleep and are fed. We give them the opportunity to use the phone to contact parents or guardians who may be concerned as to their whereabouts. It is up to them whether they take up this option. We generally don't ask too many questions but check with our teenager for more details.

The irony of all of this is that our eldest 18+ year old daughter left home, with no money and no job and headed for another city. No doubt with a similar plea from one of her friends to a parent/guardian. One very caring and compassionate parent is now providing her with food and lodging. To that parent I thank you for your generous nature and kind spirit and hope that one day I can meet you and thank you in person.

Friday, June 4, 2010

5 Sanity Savers for Parents

  1. Develop Parents own Txt talk starting with the classic WTF - Why The Face - gotta love it!!!
  2. Go for a walk - a really long walk - about 50km. That's the distance from Brisbane to the Gold Coast isn't it?
  3. Talk back to teenagers using single syllable grunts.
  4. Practice cloud vaporising - but you have to believe - does it work on teenagers too?
  5. Light bulb joke - How many parents does it take to change a lightbulb? None. Leave the lightbulb you can't see the mess in the teenagers room with the light out.