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  • Lori K Walters

You’re stuck in a way of parenting that’s not working. How do you step into a new approach? Practical steps to changing parenting patterns.

Updated: Mar 1

Tall turquoise door

Parenting teens and young adults can be so messy. You realize what you’re doing isn’t working but how do you know when it’s time to step across a threshold into something new? Quite often the answer is that you are no longer willing to stand where you are. You’re uncomfortable. The way you’re parenting isn’t working for you or your kid. You recognize that you’re stuck in a rut and you don’t want to keep going around and around. You can’t take one more of those harsh yelling matches with your kid. You can’t stomach another night of panic. You can’t accept any more of those silent looks. And so, what’s left? If you’re not willing to stay where you are, then you must move. Those are the only choices — stay here or go forward. So, you choose to go forward, through the door of necessity. Sometimes we know we’re at a threshold, not only because we can’t stand where we are, but also because we catch a glimpse of a future that holds something we’re yearning for. In a moment of clarity, we see the healthy, joyful, mutually respectful relationship with our child that’s possible. We catch sight of ourselves feeling peaceful and proud of our parenting. Our hearts tug toward it and we are propelled forward.

But change isn’t always a big epiphany. It's more about the little thresholds you cross consistently day after day. If you’re working on being less controlling of your teenager, change happens in the very moments when you hold your tongue, when you let them lead or when you remember that your way isn’t the only way. If you’re releasing your habit of stressing about how it’s all going to turn out for them, then change looks like switching your mind from a worst case to best case scenario on Tuesday, maybe a mindfulness practice on Wednesday, and not tracking your kid’s whereabouts on Thursday. Three little thresholds. If you’re cultivating your trust that the world will hold your teenager as they explore their independence, change may look like morning prayers, contemplating your beliefs or creating more moments of flow and inspired creativity. If you’re improving your approachability, you can step through a doorway each time you’re around your kid with the energy you radiate, your choice of facial expression, body language, tone of voice and the quality of your listening.

What are the thresholds you step across each day? What I love about the doorways that we step through is that we don’t always register our progress as the needle slowly moves forward. But then one day, it almost catches you by surprise to realize that you are on the other side of that door and you really ARE being more present when you are receiving to information that’s hard to hear, that you really ARE resisting the urge to jump in and take over, or that the volume of a certain voice in your head has really quietened down. Yay you.

What propels you through a doorway? When you stand before a doorway, it’s natural to pause at the ‘stay here or go forward’ moment. Your status-quo-loving ego will start spouting its objections, excuses and warnings. That’s to be expected when changing parenting patterns. This is when you lean into all your resources — the resources you already have…

  • Your body. The strength of your quadriceps. The regularity of your heartbeat. Your powerful senses. The muscle memory of thousands and thousands of times picking up at foot, shifting your weight and placing it in front of you.

  • Your mind. And the ability to see things from new perspectives. The ability to pull together pieces of information to form a picture, to analyze the data and formulate plans. The memory of the thousands and thousands of changes you’ve made in your life already.

  • Your heart. Your deep love for your child and your commitment to parenting. Your willingness to keep going. Your ability to hold hope and fear at the same time, frustration and jubilation. The elasticities of your heart and its memory of the thousands and thousands and thousands of emotions it has held during your parenting journey thus far.

  • Your spirit. Knowing that you are held by something that is both within you and beyond you, Life and the Great Heart. Your faith that you were created to parent this child and they were created to be your responsibility and your teacher. And the thousands and thousands and thousands of times the spirits of your totem have reached in gently to guide your steps forward.

You’ve got all this to propel you through to the other side. You’ve got this.

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