When your teen says, “I don’t want to change!”

As a parent we always want the best for our children. But as a parent of a young adult you can’t make them do anything any more. By the way, you can’t make anybody do anything if they don’t want to. Remember those 2 year old tantrums?

A mother brought her 18 year old daughter, saying she needed to lose weight. Although the daughter made some progress with some other issues she was having, she didn’t actually want to lose weight.

This prompted a conversation with the mother again because it had become apparent she was actually enabling the daughter. She was either withdrawing food and nagging, or swinging the other way to buying treats. Given the all or nothing approach of the mother, the daughter was behaving in a perfectly consistent way. The daughter did not want to lose weight – what was the point? It wasn’t realistic in that environment.

Parent as Coach Approach

After some coaching and hypnosis, the mother was able to change her view of food and how she treated her daughter. She stopped offering treats as a way to show her love. She started being supportive, rather than nagging about food and exercise. She changed her parenting approach to become more like a coach. Rather than telling and placating, she started being curious: asking questions and offering choices.

It’s very hard to push our baby birds out of the nest and watch them smack on the ground, is it not? We imagine the worst and cotton wool them. But that doesn’t help strengthen their wings and build their independence. As teenagers and young adults, they tell us they don’t need us but they don’t really want us to let go. They just want some looser strings. We have to gradually let those strings out, being prepared to let go when it’s time. As parents we have to become a parent who offers choices rather than solutions. Hard to do sometimes but your teen will thank you and your relationship will be so much stronger.

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