In times of great social change, we look for the things we can control. We may not be able to predict the future for ourselves or our teens, but we can control how we communicate. The way we communicate reveals what we value and how we value it.
I longed to connect more deeply with my teens. I knew I wanted to break generational patterns of authoritarianism and family alcoholism. But I didn’t know exactly how. That led me first to tears and frustration, then to parenting books, later to a therapist and my own recovery and along the way a Masters degree in sociology and communication dynamics. Eventually my parenting journey led me to learn communication skills that helped my teen girls and I connect heart to heart, rather than defense to defense.
Communication Is Reflexive
One of the key things I learned is that parents and kids hold different positions in the social order. Seems obvious, right? But there are profound implications that lie deeper. There is a natural power differential or inequality in the parent child relationship. The difference in social location can be a barrier to real connection, especially if our focus is controlling behavior and not relating heart to heart.
When we don’t communicate in a way that demonstrates we are interested in what kids have to say, they won’t share their feelings, ideas and opinions with us. This was a specific fear of mine, because I was raising girls. I wanted my girls to grow up to be empowered women who stood up for themselves in the world. They had to be able to stand up to me during their teen years, if they were going to fully step into their truth.
Communication is reflexive. Their messaging affected me, just as much as my messaging impacted them. They made me a better person by sharing their reality. In fact, they still do!
It wasn’t easy. Communicating with consciousness meant that I had the opportunity to see where I projected what I wanted and didn’t value their perspectives. Conscious communication was a sure way to see where I didn’t yet value the autonomy of my teen daughters.
What is Conscious Communication Anyway?
Conscious communication occurs when I am fully present emotionally and spiritually with my kids and my words reflect the awareness that I am responsible for my own thoughts, actions and feelings and they are responsible for their thoughts, actions and feelings.
Conscious communication aligns with the awareness that I communicate cleanly without reacting to something from my past. Responding intentionally is the way to truly connect with our teenagers because it builds trustworthiness and demonstrates the value of equity.
No one does this perfectly. Nor are we meant to do it perfectly. I believe our kids learn from how we emotionally regulate our thoughts, actions and feelings. I can’t tell you how many times, I had to apologize for losing it with them because I was triggered. By “losing it,” I don’t just mean yelling.
I mean, I sometimes, missed my teen’s messages because I was stuck in my head or worried about my own agenda. But holding the intention of hearing their messaging and processing how it triggered me, helped my awareness grow and helped the trust between us grow. It was truthful.
Conscious communication skills like affirmation, open-ended questions, and active listening invite trust and demonstrate how equality works.
Communicating consciously shows the reflexive nature of communication — what my kids share is just as important as what I share. If I want my teens to open up and talk to me, I have to value what they say just as much if not more than what I say. That’s the secret to getting our teens to talk to us.
My girls let me know clearly when I stepped on their toes. I did the same. It was messy and hurtful at times, but it was honest and real. And then, I celebrated when the communication between us was tender and loving. All the stuff of humanity was inside our interactions.
Changing How We Communicate
I came to believe that every interaction counts towards creating the intimacy and respect we desire and the equity we need.
Throughout my career in youth development and child advocacy, I have seen the powerful, creative, people-making difference, conscious communication makes. Its magic. The simple act of listening to a teen share the truth of their life, can change the trajectory of that life for the better.
That’s why I emphasize learning the conscious communication skills that reflect the true messages of the heart in my parent coaching practice. Conscious communication not only changes the relationship dynamics between parent and teen, but it changes us as people.
Language communicates our value system. Change the way we communicate, and we can change the way we value youth. Valuing youth as equal co-creators in the family illuminates the path to a more equitable world.
It’s 2020 and everyone is talking about transformation. You are overwhelmed and maybe a little scared. You have a tween, teen or launching young adult!
- Perhaps you are tired of walking on eggshells around your tween, teen or launching young adult?
- Maybe it’s the disrespectful communication from your teen or teen drama, that triggers you?
- Or are you secretly afraid your child won’t make it as an adult?
I felt all of this and more until I awakened to a new mindset and practiced respectful communication skills. The more I tried to control my two young daughters when they first entered their tween years, the more friction and distance their was between us. When I learned to share vulnerably from my heart with them, they drew closer to me and sought my counsel and support naturally.
I learned to listen so my teen daughters would open up and I learned how to share my heart in an authentic way that made them want to listen to me.
In fact, those former triggers I had about sassiness and teen drama, became the things we used to connect deeply. I learned how to read the “disrespect” I perceived as their own fear, and we got to the root of it, together. I learned when to engage and when to let go. We grew closer as a result. I was able to support their launch into young adulthood.
It wasn’t always easy and it was sometimes messy. There was a divorce and family illness in the mix and the time I spent as a single parenthood was tough. But today we have honest, mutually respectful relationships. Even as young adults they seek my advice.
I want to support your parenting journey and offer you the mindset and skills that I learned to you, to help you grow the close relationship you long for with your child at every step of their development and I want to support you to learn how to grow your own rich relationship with yourself so you are ready when they launch to enjoy all life has to offer.
What is Relationship Coaching for Parents and Tweens, Teens or Launching Young Adults?
Coaching sessions occur online at a time convenient to you. You learn how apply the communication skills I teach to not only support your teen’s growth but grow ways to become your most authentic self.
I am passionate about helping parents and teens co-create the relationships they truly long to build together. That’s why I became a parent coach to help families (even those in difficult times of transition) to cultivate a more peaceful home by communicating heart to heart. The approach is called conscious co-creation. It focuses on growing the awareness and skills that parents and teens need to jointly build the relationship that work for both. I can help you get Back on Track with your tween or teen.
Recently, I’ve been helping teens launch to college or their next stage of life also. It includes making adjustments to college life.
What issues do you deal with?
Parent and Teen Relationship Coaching: I help establish respectful communication and overcome communication barriers and breakdown.
For Parents: I help parents in conflict, navigating divorce, co-parenting, single parenthood and how to embrace and enjoy your empty nests.
For Tweens, Teens and Young Adults: I help with parent problems, homework hassles, digital dangers, dating and substance abuse. I am also a chemical dependency counselor. I have even helped teens deal with the pressures of college life or a new job.
How Can I Help You?
I offer individual or group coaching packages. I have also written a book with sample conversations of conscious communication and exercises at the end of each chapter, titled How to Raise Respectful Parents: Better Communication for Teen and Parent Relationships
What can I expect?
No blame, just support, skills building and a few suggestions for a complicated world! I offer a free Back on Track Assessment Call. If we are a match, you can enter private coaching or online group coaching.
Contact me at 956-250-3689 or email, Laura@LauraLReagan.com. If time is of the essence, consider my course, Tune Into Your Teen by Tuning Into Yourself. You can find it in The Family Alchemists University.
What are other parents saying?
Laura has helped me tremendously as a parent coach! My teen son and I were estranged following difficulties with his father. And the counselor we were going to, was unable to coach me to be able to reach my teen, beyond the fences and hurt walls that he’d placed between us. Laura stepped in and with great kindness, understanding and wisdom, was able to get me to change my entire approach to parenting my teen son. Our relationship underwent a radical change as I started implementing her suggestions and advice, and he and I are now affectionate with each other, communicating about big and small matters, without any blocks, and building trust again, thanks to Laura’s knowledge and coaching, she has so professionally, kindly and generously shared with me. -Priya B., mother of teen son
Laura was a Godsend to me. With all I learned, I feel a sense of calm empowerment for the first time in YEARS! I even feel a sense of calm about my teens’ future. Before, I felt my life was flooded in chaos, but she helped me practice positive communication skills that conveyed my heart. I always looked forward to our next session. I highly recommend her! -Linda E., mother of twin teen daughters