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  • Lori K Walters

Raising a teenager requires elasticity of the soul

Updated: Feb 22

teenager requires elasticity of the soul

Raising a teenager requires an elasticity of the soul. They stretch us in ways we didn't know we were capable of stretching and we never come back to our original shape. And for this we thank them… eventually. When did the stretching begin for you? Perhaps it was the moment of conception when you felt yourself change. Or the miraculous day you found out you were pregnant and your world expanded. You saw a fresh horizon and so many things became possible. And then there was the physical stretching: bellies growing, skin becoming taut and organs shifting. Rearranging the house, making room for each new stage of their lives… cribs, bunk beds, art tables, basketball hoops and hang-out spaces. And then they stretch our hearts. When I became a mother, I never knew that I could love that much. And day by day, year by year, that love has grown and changed in ways I hadn’t even imagined. I embody a greater capacity for love, not just for my kids, but for friends and family and, honestly, the whole world. The heart of this mother of 22 years has room for all that love. And what about now, as they grow from teens into young adults? What kinds of elasticity does their increasing independence ask of you? They drive away. They get tattoos. They spend money shortsightedly. They come out. They quit their job or their college program. They stop talking to us. They have their first lover. And so, you take in information that you never expected to hear. You open to facts you’d previously thought unacceptable. You endure silence and persecution. You go along with questionable plans. You acknowledge foreign points of view. I invite you to pause for a moment here. How are you relating to ‘stretching’ in your parenting right now? How do you make room within yourself for the next thing and the next?

~ How to Nurture your Elasticity
  1. Acknowledge the stretch. You’re a parent – you WILL feel extended, elongated, spread out and unfolded. But being pulled like elastic isn’t being torn apart, you know. It’s expansion. Be honest with yourself that it’s going to be uneasy for a while, maybe scary, awkward, annoying and disorienting too. Open yourself and allow the discomfort.

  2. Identify what’s required of you. Where exactly are you stretching? Is it your ability to take in new viewpoints without long-jumping into judgement? Is it tolerating their difficult emotions without absorbing them? Is it holding your tongue or speaking your mind? Is it loving a behaviour you don’t like? Is it adopting a new way of doing things?

  3. Breathe.

  4. Anchor yourself. Like a boat in the harbor, you’re safe. Even though there’s a storm. Even though you’re stretching. What are your practices for anchoring? Connect with the source of your stability. Do it often.

  5. Take in the big picture. See yourself in the context of your whole parenting journey. Sense how you’ve been growing, adapting and expanding all this time. This isn’t an insurmountable peak; it’s your next step.

  6. Stay true to yourself, your priorities and your parenting values. You know that your ego will cling to the status quo and fabricate perfectly logical excuses and objections to any changes. That makes it hard to know if you’re being too flexible, going too far, being foolish or unsafe, or stretching beyond where you ‘should’. So, check in with your Sage Self. Is this growth consistent with your beliefs about parenting? Does it help you become the kind of parent you want to be? Does it feel in alignment with your own personal journey and support the surfacing of more of your true essence?

  7. Engage your body. Here’s the thing: every new version of you will be carried in your body. So doing new movements is a way of letting your body know that something’s changing. So, what shape might your body need to take to accommodate your growth right now? Don’t think too much, just play around and see what comes. Maybe standing on your tiptoes and reaching into the heavens. Or something stronger like adding extra quad and bicep stretches to your routine. Try dolphining your neck for spine flexibility or progressively broader starfish jumps. Long slow psoas stretches or a new breathwork practice to expand your lungs. Find the ones that support your elasticity.

  8. Create a ritual to honour the change you’re in. Make an altar and choose some music. Go within and be still. Then go beyond and invite your guides and gods to show you where you are universe. Ask for guidance and support and open to receive. You were made for this and you are held by a great force of light and love. Connect with it and remember.

  9. Register and celebrate your growth. Stop and notice how you stretched today. If you’re doing something you hadn’t previously imagined possible, don’t fly by it – take it in. Spot how you’re handling something that seemed unbearable or how you’re accepting a new aspect of your child. Write it in your journal or tell a friend. Give yourself a hug or some flowers. Honour what your elasticity has made possible in your life and in the lives of the ones you love. This is no small thing.

  10. Love. Love yourself unwaveringly. Love parenting for the wild ride it is. Love being alive. Love the trees and puppies and clouds. Smile. Be the Love that you are. Shine it out there.

One of my favourite practices from philosopher Michael Singer is saying, ‘yes, I can handle this’. Though I probably won’t ever get a tattoo, I have envisioned it on my forearm many times. Yes, I can handle this. I can be flexible. I can expand. And every time we’re flexible and allow ourselves to expand, we facilitate the development of flexibility in our kids. And that's a very good thing.

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Photo by Jan Canty on Unsplash



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