Create a Life of Freedom
The Journey

The Truth About Parenting Teens & Young Adults

It’s tough, it’s the toughest job in the world. I wish I could tell you it’s all sunshine, rainbows, pillow fights and nurturing. I'd be lying. It’s more like a battle field, a war zone whereby the fittest, wittiest and quickest usually succeeds. I didn’t drink alcohol until my son hit his teens. Now I have my own vineyard growing out the back garden because Tesco despite advertising open 24 hours actually closes. At 3 am when you are waiting for them to return home alcohol becomes your friend, your best friend. I wrestled with that one too… What if there was an accident and I needed to get to the hospital, a friends house or a specific location? So the rule was one of us parents had to remain tea total. I can’t tell you exactly how many games of rock, paper, scissor I’ve lost with my husband over the years only that it is a LOT!

The worst thing about parenting is that other people #perfectparents judge you. They judge you if your teen is not out doing after school activities 5 days a week, if your teen is not Einstein, Newtown, Messi, Pelé, Anna Pavlova, Serena Williams blah blah and they will think you are a shit parent if you don’t “nurture” your child after waiting up all night, drinking 3 bottles of wine and watering the vineyard out back while you wait for them to return home from a night if you're lucky or a weekend with their phone turned off. The battery “died”. It’s hard to nurture a young adult when they don’t want to be nurtured, the very sight of you makes them come out in a rash. No matter what you do for them, it’s never enough. Nothing you can do in their eyes is never enough unless you drop dead on the spot. I have a major problem with the whole nurturing of a teen/young adult. If you happen to have a psychologist or social worker in your circle then I can tell you right now you are fucked! It will always be your fault. God forbid your teen|young adult actually takes responsibility for their actions. Get used to the word "nurturing" you are going to hear it a lot over the course of your teen's life.

Let's Talk About Sex Drugs & Rockin Roll!

Drugs are readily available in secondary schools across the country, fact. You have two choices, you can stick your head in the sand and pretend your teen is not being offered them, is not a bit curious and is above peer pressure in any shape or form. OR you can have a discussion, talk openly about drugs, alcohol and their effects. Talking openly does not guarantee your teen will not experiment or use drugs, fact. It does give them choices and with choices, there is this thing called "free will" and they will have to learn to accept the consequences of their actions #lifeskills. Talking does set the boundaries and limits what is acceptable in the household, especially if there are younger children living in the family home. For example, a few cans of beer might be acceptable with friends out the back garden in the summer under the supervision of parents. Drugs of any shape or form could have zero tolerance, not acceptable. Hash could be acceptable to some parents, not acceptable to other parents. There is no right or wrong way, it's your home, you are paying the mortgage and bills you decide what you are comfortable with and it's up to the teenager to respect that. They will push the boundaries, trust me on that one. At the end of the day from an early age, we teach our children the difference between right and wrong, we teach them to respect their elders, their parents and during this phase in their lives all that goes out the window. The thing that grates on me the most is that when a teen becomes unhinged the first person to be blamed is the parents. Teens need to learn there are consequences to their actions, it's called teaching them #lifeskills.  Let's talk about sex! Teens like to experiment that's how they learn and evolve at some point they will experiment with sex {Please revert to the choices above} pretend it's not happening or have the conversation. Having the conversation will not protect against teen pregnancy or STD's. All you can do is educate, educate, educate and if you have an idea your young teen is having sex if she's a girl, please consider putting her on the pill for her own well-being. With our son, we left a supply of condoms in the bathroom cabinet which were magically replenished by the fairies once they disappeared - No questions asked! It's better to be safe than sorry. Our son frequently asked for his girlfriend to stay over. Our policy was this, if it was a long-term girlfriend, we met her, she hung about our household frequently and they seem to be in a stable relationship we didn't mind the occasional sleepover. That's us, you could be totally against partners sleeping over because of family values, younger children in the household etc. It's your house, you pay the bills and they need to respect that decision. However, I will say this, like drugs and alcohol they are experimenting, please bear that in mind when deciding on sleepovers. Maybe you just don't have the extra space in your home, all these factors have to be considered and discussed. The key words here are discussion, respect and common ground. Where we fell short is there is no respect or common ground from our young adult so family life fell apart at the seams.

And yes you guessed it’s OUR fault as parents because we are not “nurturing” enough. I find it difficult to nurture after a 12-hour shift at work when I come home to a sink filled with dirty dishes a wash basket overflowing, floors that need to be swept and mopped. Bathrooms that have their own ecosystems developing because I was too busy “nurturing” my hangover from waiting up all weekend for his heinous to grace us with his presence. When he does arrive home we are blamed and made feel guilty for all his problems. A coin has two sides, there are always two sides to every story.

Oh, wait – Light bulb moment, that’s all part and parcel of parenting. Did you not get the manual when you left the hospital? You know after 24 hours of continuous pushing, screaming and your fanny quite frankly torn apart and stitched back up! Manual, sorry I didn’t get the manual with the instructions on how to be the #perfectparent and nurture my children into perfect specimens of the human race. Maybe if I did I wouldn’t have all these #perfectparents judging me. It gets worse, my own offspring (for whom my fanny was torn apart and stitched back up) actually hates me because I am not “nurturing” him enough (nurture is not in his vocabulary, it's not a word he would choose to use, period). Forget the fact that every life-altering decision I’ve made since I was 21 years old was made around him, his needs wants and requirements. Where we lived, where the best schools are located, where we worked? Taking the decision to give up an excellent paid job to become self-employed so we would be more flexible to do school runs, school holidays etc. When it comes to raising teenagers I have failed spectacularly according to #perfectparents. However failing gives you knowledge and teaches you foresight, amazing foresight!

Here’s what I’ve learned parenting…

  • You can only do your best. If your best is not good enough then tough. At 4 am forget worrying it's like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere or change the outcome.
  • The only people who deserve to be in your life are the ones who treat you with love, kindness, and respect.
  • The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being. It is not a statement about you. {Please remember this}
  • Stop giving a fuck and start living YOUR best life. Because let’s face it all most of us want is peace, love, understanding and a lil respect. A chocolate bar bigger than our house with the vineyard to match. Life Goals!
  • Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be.
  • There are things that we don’t want to happen but have to accept, things we don’t want to know but have to learn and people we can’t live without but have to let go.
  • Uphold your dignity, walk away from people who only remember you when they want you to do something for them. They are so into themselves so much that they forget you too have a life to live, dreams to pursue and a destiny to full fill. You have to be mindful of your own happiness. That’s not being selfish, it’s being smart.
  • Sometimes you have to love people from a distance and give them the space and time to get their minds right before you let them back into your life.
  • You’re a diamond dear. They can’t break you.

To all the teenagers | young adults out there.

You can say sorry a million times, say I love you as much as you want, say whatever you want, whenever you want. But if you’re not going to prove that the things you say are true then don’t say them at all. Because if you can’t show it, your words don’t mean a thing. I can’t control your behaviour nor do I want that burden….. But I will not apologize for refusing to be disrespected, lied to, manipulated or mistreated. I have standards. Step up or step out! 

You think the world owes you a favour. Newsflash, the world owes you nothing, you came into this world with nothing and you will leave this world with nothing. What you do in between is entirely up to you and if you screw up, it's not your parent's fault, it's YOUR fault.

I will protect you until you are grown and then I will let you fly free. But loving you, that is forever.

To all the social workers | psychologists out there.

Before you judge my life, my past or my character walk in my shoes. Walk the path I have traveled, live my sorrow, my doubts, my fear, my pain and my laughter. Remember, everyone has a story. When you’ve lived my life then you can judge me. But before you do listen. Before you listen, see. That’s why we have two eyes and two ears. As a parent who's gone through the ringer with a teen/young adult, I can honestly look back and say I gave it my all. It sucked the life force from me and continues to do so today. If I was to offer a synopsis of my experience I would say too much focus is on the teen and not enough support or help for parents. Too many fingers are pointed at parents and not at the person who is causing the mayhem and disruption in the first place. They need to be "nurtured" parents are judged made feel small and inadequate. That is wrong on so many levels.

Our son developed NPD overnight. He went to bed aged 14 years of age and woke up with Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) a personality disorder in which there is a long-term pattern of abnormal behaviour characterized by exaggerated feelings of self-importance. People with NPD see themselves their interests and opinions as the only ones that really matter. They are not interested in the feelings of others - they lack empathy; they are unable to feel or appreciate feelings that are not their own and easily disregard other people's feelings. People affected by it often spend a lot of time thinking about their appearance. They often take advantage of the people around them and are generally prone to extreme feelings of jealousy. They are extremely sensitive, can easily feel rejected and are very easily hurt. Whatever they crave or yearn for must be "the best.". The behaviour typically begins by early adulthood and occurs across a variety of situations.

Treatments have not been well studied. Therapy is often difficult as people with the disorder frequently do not consider themselves to have a problem.  It appears to occur more often in males than females and affects young people more than older people. Psychotherapy is often recommended - this is a type of counselling which aims to help the individual learn how to positively relate to other people. Psychotherapy may involve CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), family therapy, or group therapy. CBT helps the person identify negative beliefs and behaviours, and to replace them with healthy and positive ones. Psychotherapy aims to help build up their self-esteem and acquire realistic expectations of themselves and other people. A person with untreated NPD has a higher chance of substance abuse (including drugs and alcohol), depression, problems with relationships, difficulties at work or school, and suicidal behaviors or thoughts. A recent study published in PLoS One found that males with narcissistic personality disorder have higher levels of cortisol in their blood. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Even those without much stress in their lives have higher levels. High blood cortisol is linked to a greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

I shit you not. Our son went to bed a normal teenager and woke up with NPD. Try convincing a social worker of that fact and watch for the eyes rolling and the "your just selfish, it's just all about you" look on their twisted face. Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. Enlightenment doesn't come from a psychology degree or advanced yoga. You can put both feet behind your judgemental head and still be an asshole. ~ Namaste.

Some of the most poisonous people I have met throughout my journey have come disguised as family, friends and social workers, fact. I don't want to tar all social workers with the one brush. This has just been our experience. I am sure there are fantastic social workers out there who believe teens and young adults develop NPD and offer support to parents rather than accusations, shame, guilt and judgement. We just haven't been lucky enough to meet any on our journey.

Alas, those who move forward in life with a happy Spirit will find that things will work out in the end. You might have gained 20lbs from the chocolate and wine and have mostly grey hair and wrinkles by the time your child hits their teens but those things don’t really matter. I don't know about you but I just wanna live a happy peaceful life with my family around me. I love my children equally, there is nothing I wouldn't do for them. I want to go on more adventures with them. Be around good energy. Connect with new people. Learn new things together. I am a decent honest person who quite frankly is trying so hard to keep her shit together juggling lots of balls in the air at once. Looking after my own health, happiness and well-being is not selfish or self-centred. I'm trying to get well from an extreme trauma such as narcissistic abuse whilst trying to survive the inner unreleased trapped trauma. Learning to heal from the roller-coaster ride of living with somebody with NPD can be very challenging. Give me a break! Being a parent is only a small part of who I am, it's not ALL of who I am. #perfectparent rolls eyes. We are raising an entire nation of Loreal kids who really do think they are "worth it". Who has no accountability, respect, dignity, life goals, aspirations, dreams and quite frankly are afraid of a hard days graft.

Finally, don’t ever feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn’t matter whether someone is a family member, partner, employer, a childhood friend or a new acquaintance. You don’t have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It’s one thing if a person owns up to their bad behaviour and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries and continues to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go. Evaluate the people in your life; Then promote, demote or terminate. You're the CEO in your life. For far too long I let other people dictate my path, my journey. It's time to take back control over my life and who I have in my life at this time, It's time to let go #createalifeoffreedom. It's time for me to free myself from the guilt, anger, hurt, pain and the consistent pointing of the finger and blame. Letting go does not make me a bad person, parent or a monster. It simply means I can smell the bullshit a lot better and from further a distance. Good luck on your journey as you navigate the trials and tribulations of parenting. The good news is that every child is different, your teen could sail through this part of their life, not develop NPD and you will be spared the tears, worry, grey hair, wrinkles and heartbreak. Kudos to you if you do! If like me you are living in a war zone then this might help...

“… Once the storm is over you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about’. - Haruki Murakami, Kakka on the Shore.

For the record, I have had my fill of judgemental #perfectparents over the years who think they know me, our story, our situation. To those people, I say this: At 14 years of age our son developed Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). It appears to occur more often in males than females and affects young people more than older people. Instead of supporting us parents, you choose to judge us and in doing so are enabling our son to live in a world with NPD instead of trying to help him understand it and get help.  Look up the term "gaslighting".

Useful Resources: 

Disarming the Narcissist, Surviving and Thriving with the Self-Absorbed. Book by WENDY T. BEHARY

Why Is It Always About You? Book by Sandy Hotchkiss

Melanie Tonia Evans, Narcissistic abuse recovery expert, healer, author, radio host

@GeraldKean #SundayAMTV3 Thanks for highlighting the decent hard working people of Tallaght who have been subjected……
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