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Sunday, November 6, 2011

More Inspiring Teenagers

It is so easy to focus on the negative aspects of teenager behaviour. 

Today I attended the Queensland Synchronized Ice Skating Club’s Exhibition Skate, a fundraiser and performance opportunity for the teams representing their state at the Australian National Ice Skating competition to be held in Brisbane next month.  

I was fortunate to witness some very inspiring and talented ice skaters who brought passion, elegance and creativity to their performances. Over the past seven years that my own children have been ice skating, I have seen many of these children, develop their skating skills from tentative, awkward, beginning steps to the accomplished, dynamic, creative ice skaters that I see before me today.

I have also seen leadership skills emerge in teenagers as they in turn nurture and encourage the next generation of beginner ice skaters.  The synchronised ice skating club management realises that tomorrow’s national teams grow from the beginner skaters of today which is why they provide leadership opportunities to the more experienced skaters to inspire and encourage the beginner skaters.   

I would like to congratulate the organisers for the success of such a well, run event which provided an opportunity to showcase our talented ice skaters.  Immense pride exuded from ice skaters and the audience alike as the skaters concluded the exhibition with a victory lap of the ice rink to the music of “Queen”, “We are the champions”.  Congratulations to all of the ice skaters who performed today and best of luck to those who will be representing Queensland at the national competition next month.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Teenager/Parent Communication or Conflict?

People exhibit different behaviours in their communication with one another. Think of the last conflict that you had or that you witnessed and look at it from the perspective of a third party observing the situation.

Was there emotion, blame, finger pointing, raised voices, sarcasm, rigid stances?  These characteristics are often associated with aggressive behaviour.

If one person was meek, avoiding conflict and eye contact and apologising for things which were not their fault then this may indicate passive behaviour.

People using assertive behaviour tend to use a calm tone, be non-blaming and are able to clearly and honestly discuss the situation with careful consideration and respect.

It is very easy to get caught up in the emotion of the situation especially in parent/teenager communication.  By being aware that these behaviours exist we can look out for key words and non-verbal body language which are characteristic of these different behaviours.

If you need support in communicating with your teenager contact ToughLove by visiting their website to find a group near you.

Friday, September 30, 2011

In memory of a loving mum.

It has been a year to the day since my mother passed away.  My 16 year old daughter and I took time to remember an amazing lady, a mother and nana, teacher and friend.

Some tears shed, fond memories held.  We shared sadness for the loss of a caring, warm, generous, person and yet joy for having had her as part of our lives.

She will always remain in our hearts and in our memories.  I love you mum and I too am proud of all that you have said and done.  Thank you.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Happy Fathers Day

I watched X Factor the other night and was totally blown away by the performance of this 40 year old dad. Note the look of pure adoration on his young daughter's face.  Just beautiful!!!  I thought that this was the perfect youtube for my blog to celebrate Fathers Day.  So to all of you dads out there.  Happy Fathers Day.  Hope you had a great day.    Click on link to watch.   Enjoy!!!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Daughter finds freedom to fly

My ToughLove kid has turned a corner. Although in another city, she contacts me by phone or text message not because she wants something but because she wants to share with me some of her day to day life experiences. She is taking responsibility and making better life choices for herself. She has come a long way, struggling to eke out an existence, seeking ways for self improvement, looking after herself and maintaining her living environment.

She assists her community and herself through volunteering.

My daughter has grown wings to fly, building confidence and finding freedom to choose her own destiny.

I am so proud of you Kim. You have found who you are.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You know you're a Cool Parent when. . . . . .

When I first started this blog in June 2010 I wrote a post on 5 tips to being a cool parent. One year on here are 5 tips on when you know you’re a cool parent.

1. Driving in the car with your teenager with Lady Gaga playing LOUD!!!
2. Accepting that your eldest child (living away from home) now has 2 rats for pets.
3. Acknowledging that your 20 year old looks pretty with her hair dyed pink.
4. Being able to see beyond the piercings and tattoos to see the real person in your child and their friends.
5. When your 20 year old initiates more regular contact with you and the conversation is pleasant and encouraging.

Thank you ToughLove for your support and encouragement in helping me build confidence in myself and in the decisions that I make regarding the parenting of my teenagers and older children.

ToughLove is a parent support group which I have found extremely helpful in dealing with challenging teenagers. Click on the title of this blog post to go to the ToughLove Australia website.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Time out to enjoy life

Here are two of my favourite quotes which I wanted to share with you.

"Dance like no one is watching,
love like you'll never be hurt,
sing like no one is listening,
and live like it's heaven on earth."
William Purkey

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take
but the number of moments that take our breath away.”
Author unknown

The quotes speak for themselves. How often do we get so caught up in busyness that we miss the precious moments that take our breath away in the midst of our frenetic pace of life.

I am taking a bit of a break, some timeout to rest, recharge, re-energise, re-evaluate, rejuvenate, regenerate and rejoice in life because it is too short and every moment should be enjoyed.

I have been listening to Luka Bloom of late. I found this clip and the words spoke to me. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Thank You 1000+ visitors

According to my stat counter I have now had over one thousand unique visitors to my blog. This is truly amazing!!! When I started this blog 12 months ago, I barely knew what a blog was.

It has certainly been a steep learning curve but I have learnt a lot as I blogged and shared my trials, tribulations and triumphs with you, my blog visitors from around the globe and for this I truly thank you for your interest and for your support. I started this blog as a means of debriefing after challenging times with my teenagers. However after I discovered the Tough Love support group I have also used this blog to promote this very valuable and worthwhile organisation.

So thank you again to all of my blog visitors for joining me in my journey of discovery in the challenging role of parenting teenagers.

Friday, May 27, 2011

As parents of teenagers are we too busy?

Last Friday I rose at 5.15am drove my children to and from the ice rink, twice, got my car assessed for repair, went to the bank, assisted with setting up a garage sale for a fundraising charity event and managed to squeeze in a visit to my GP for health checkups which has now led to more scans checks and specialist visits mostly due to the 3F’s Fifty, Flabby and Family history – all of this achieved by 1pm on my day off. Ok so I did manage to have lunch with a friend after that and make yet another trip to the ice rink. I work full time and so I took a day off work to fit all of this in. I think we as parents are incredibly busy. We need to take stock and see if we can work smarter rather than harder. It is all about work life balance. Make the most of life but remember to take time to smell the roses.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Prodigal Not So Teenage Daughter has left home

Well the Prodigal Daughter has left home and hitch hiked her way to Melbourne. Fortunately she arrived safely. I spoke to her a few times during the week and asked if she had definately moved out as she had left again without any good-byes and was not around for her younger sister's birthday again much to her little sisters sadness.

The prodigal daughter has now given me permission to sort through her things and pack up usable items and permission to dicard non usable or ruined items left lying around cluttering up the house.

While this exercise in cleaning up is cathartic it is also one which brings mixed emotions of sadness to see a beautiful caring person with so much potential so hell bent on being oppositionally defiant that she has chosen a life of poverty and self focus over one of family support. This is entirely her choice and so as I pack up and clean up all of her stuff yet again I will set her free and send her things to her, readdress her mail for a while and let her live her life the way she choses without rescuing her so that she can learn by her mistakes and become a responsible self sufficient adult, one day.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mothers' Day memories: From Toddlers to Teenagers

As we approach Mother's Day, I seem to have been surrounded by doting parents and their young children eagerly participating in weekend activities together. I think back to a time when I too was captured by the excitement of each mini milestone made by my children. I even have a recording of my children talking, recorded over a period of time for prosperity. Sounds of crying babies, children making animal sounds on cue, nursery rhymes and cheeky chatter bring memories flooding back.

When did life start getting so serious that as a parent of teenagers my concerns are no longer about toilet training, toddler tantrums and timeout but now involve more complex issues. My life now revolves around providing a teenager taxi service, teenagers obsession with Face Book and texting, emotional hormonal driven outbursts, theirs and mine, driving lessons, accruing driving hours, alcohol consumption and wondering where on earth my tough love teenager is and wondering if she is safe and well.

Sadly this is my first Mother’s Day without my mum which is perhaps the reason for the introspective contemplation.

I would like to wish all of the mums out there a very Happy Mothers’ Day. I hope that your families dote on you for a change. I am reminded of a quote which I have on a fridge magnet. “Mothers hold their children’s hands for a while but hold their hearts forever.”

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Toughlove for Teenagers Launching your Adult Child

If you are wondering whether it is necessary to launch an adult child, ask yourself these five questions -
1. Is the present arrangement working for you?
2. Is your adult child moving toward independence?
3. Are you and your adult child cooperating as equals in a way that brings peace and serenity to the home?
4. Is the adult child paying his/her full share of the bills and shouldering his share of the responsibilities?
5. Are you going to live forever?
If you answer no to any of these questions, you should be able to see why it is necessary for you to launch your child into the “real” world of self sufficiency.
The Launching Process
1. Make your intention known – When you advise the launchee of your decision to launch there is no need for explanations or debate. They already know why. The conversation should be brief and include a statement like “I believe this is best for all of us”
2. Set a Date – 3 to 6 weeks is reasonable.
3. Let the Launchee make the arrangements – parents organising things will only hinder the launching process.
4. No Revolving Door a. All possessions go immediately – make sure the launchee moves ALL possessions and belongings.
b. New locks – DO NOT give him/her keys.
c. No treating House Like Home – DO NOT allow him/her to raid the refrigerator, take a shower or wash clothes.
d. Change Address Officially – notify the post office of change of address if the new address is known to you.
e. Stand Firm – DO NOT allow launchee to move back in with you regardless of the circumstances.
5. Guard Against Weakening Thoughts.
6. Make the First Launch the Last Launch.

If you found this information helpful or would like to find out more please visit the Toughlove website to find your local Toughlove group. Toughlove is a parent support group of like minded parents who are dealing with unruly teenagers in a supportive, non judgemental environment.

My Toughlove group have given me the support and encouragement that I have needed to cope with the many situations of dealing with my challenging daughter.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Teenagers dump mum from Facebook

I was delighted a while back when my 15 year old daughter decided to finally let me become her Facebook friend. I dutifully did not pass personal comments about her Facebook status or posts. However by being a Facebook friend to my older daughter, otherwise know as the prodigal daughter or the ToughLove kid, I was able to at least get some indication of where she was and what she was doing. I made the mistake of talking to her about a trip to Melbourne that she had planned after I had seen lots of comments from her and her friends about the possible trip. She gave a very non commital answer. Not long after this I was no longer her Facebook friend or my younger daughters. She and her younger sister also dropped Facebook friend status with anyone that I was also friends with including their brother.

I had not heard from my elder daughter for 3 weeks even though I had tried ringing and txting her phone that she said didn't work or did not turn on. She eventually rang my younger daughter to tell her she was in Melbourne and would be home in a week. No doubt she will drop back into our lives if and when she chooses to with the expectation of free bed and lodging and food with nothing in return. Based on past performance there will be no offers to assist with cooking meals, tidying the house, cleaning or whatever.

Now don't get me wrong, I would be more than happy for her to pack her things up and move out and make a life of her own. She is nearly 21 after all. I would celebrate this right of passage with her. However the current situation is full of uncertainty, we are being a crutch providing for someone who has no intention of getting a job as she prefers to live a Peter Pan existence of being forever young and having forever fun.

Time for a big change. Look out for the next post in the ToughLove for Teenagers series.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In memory of my mum.

This is not my usual blog post but I write this post in memory of my mum. Words cannot express the mixed emotions that I feel today. The quote below resonated with me.

“You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”
by David Harkins

Thank you mum for your belief in us, for your support, love and encouragement. You will be in our hearts forever.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tough Love for teenagers - illusions, myths & fears

I have been to another toughlove support group meeting and have been inspired to write a blog post on the topic of discussion for the week - "Overcoming Obstacles", a chapter from the TOUGHLOVE PARENTS MANUAL written by Phillis & David York, Founders of Toughlove. The following are excerpts from the book.

How often do we as parents have visions or goals for our teenagers only to sit in disbelief as they go FERAL!!! These visions are illusions. Illusions made up from past and future hopes are something that we believe to be true even though the facts are different. For example my son the Dr just got arrested or my daughter the lawyer just dropped out of year 10. When we start accepting our teenager for what he/she is right now, drop out, drug user or whatever then we stop protecting them. It is up to the teenager to choose to either remain the same or choose a new role - college student, reformed drug user, shop assistant etc.

Parents shape their children.

Children are independent creatures who shape their own lives.

Most of us get run by our fears.

"If I lock my kid out he'll have to sleep outside and he'll catch pneumonia."

"All my relatives will know that I am not a good parent."

Your child has the right to own his/her own life, mistakes and all. Your fears prevent him/her from learning. Perhaps he/she might learn to love you.

Fears are defences against change, against newness. Fears trap and keep you in the same old patterns. Fears keep you helpless and overwhelmed.

Who else would you scare like this besides yourself?

I look forward to going to my toughlove support group as they encourage, teach, inspire and support me and each other in one of the most difficult roles which we will ever play in our lives - Parenting teenagers. Thank you toughlove buddies for your tremendous support for me and each other while you are all going through your own toughlove challenges. You are truly awesome people!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Tough Love for teenagers continues

In November I wrote about going to my first Tough Love Support group meeting. I have been to several meetings since then and now feel very at home in this supportive environment. Each week this group offers support and an opportunity to debrief after a challenging week with a troubled teenager. Also each week there is an opportunity to learn more about how we communicate with each other. last week was my turn to research a topic and present it to the group. It wasn't such a daunting task as it involved reading through the book and finding an area which was of interest to me, something that I could share with the group.

One of the subjects I chose to speak about was Personal Power.

Personal Power - ability to control your own life and influence your own environment. It is NOT about controlling others and making them do what you want.

Personal Power is about
• Making choices
• Developing alternatives
• Setting limits
• Refusing to be treated inconsiderately
• Developing support for yourself
• Acting rather than reacting
• Giving up taking responsibility for others
• Giving up accepting consequences for others

Near the end of the chapter that I had researched were the following words


These words resonated with me as did the words of our support group leader when he spoke about valuing ourselves.

I suddenly realised that I had actually been trying to seek approval from all of my teenagers for the decisions that I needed to make. Time to rethink, regain strength and value myself as a parent and as a person.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Brisbane Floods 2011 - the cleanup begins

This is not something which I would normally put on my blog however these are unusual times. Wherever you are in the world you have probably heard by now about the floods that have swept through parts of Australia. I live in Brisbane and this is a brief account of what I saw today as I ventured out into the flood affected areas.

I must admit to feeling slightly guilty for being on the roads and driving through the devastation today albeit for legitimate reasons of checking on my in-laws who, though not directly affected by flood, had been without power and will be continue to be without power for quite sometime, while those less fortunate around them begin the cleanup of their homes. The sight of homes with brown, sludgy, lawns strewn with mud covered furniture and possessions was emotionally overwhelming. Streets were filled with parked cars belonging to volunteers eagerly helping residents to sift through possessions to find any salvagable items. I saw volunteers, wearing fluro vests and Id badges, being shuttled by city council buses to areas where they were needed. There is a massive cleanup in progress which will take months to complete. People are doing an incredible job and I commend volunteers and those organising this massive cleanup for their compassion, dedication and leadership.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Teenager takes to the streets, mum terrified

So I finally plucked up courage to take the 17 year old son out driving. I figured that he had close to 50 hours of driving time under his belt, mostly with a driving instructor, it should be safe. Hmmmm.... Actually he is quite a good driver but it is the fact that you are seated in the passenger seat with no control over the situation at all and you just hope that they have the sense to drive safely and calmly without too much stalling of car or dare devil driving. We had an hour and a half driving time over the weekend and I am sure there will be a lot more driving during the week.