Recently, I worked with a young man, who nicely demonstrates the struggle of many adults progressing forward in life, but not without burdensome challenges that suck the joy of their efforts. This young man was, in certain ways, doing well in his career. Yet, in other ways, he was not.
After failing out of college, he had been through several companies and quickly rose in the ranks only to ultimately undermine his own success. Personally, his life was miserable as he had not been able to sustain any real friendships or romantic partnerships. He had tried the path of medicating his anxieties, with multiple prescription drugs as well as recreational drugs. At the time of his intake, he was taking seven prescribed medications, and desperately seeking a way out.
“My Mom’s Voice is Still Nagging Me Out of Bed.”
This is just the beginning of the thoughts that now plague this young man, most of which are directly and easily traced to a well-intentioned mom or dad. Other anxious thoughts included such examples as:
- “You should be eating better! You are getting fat.”
- “Why don’t you just get it done, and stop procrastinating?”
- “You’ve got to make more money so you can get out of this place.”
- “You have to focus, or you will be here all night.”
- “What’s wrong with you? You can’t get your act together.”
- “You need to find some friends. If only the people at work weren’t such jerks.”
- “You have to stop smoking so much pot.”
- “There must be something wrong with you. Why can’t you get your life together?”
The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree
These are samples of thoughts/beliefs that evolve directly from what his parents offered him as a child and teen. He was admittedly lazy, unmotivated and difficult. As a result, his well-intentioned parents pushed and pushed to keep him going, or at least they tried. Many of you can likely relate to this.
As your child or teen struggles to engage with life, you feel compelled to take over for them and push them along. Early on, this can work fairly well. Yes, exhausting…but you can get the job done.
However, with time, this proves to be utterly frustrating and ineffective with many teenagers, particularly the more strong willed.
Perhaps more importantly, is understanding how the young apple is often burdened for life by the incessant nagging from the motherly tree! How does this happen?
When the child or teen has their head in the pillow or is staring at a screen, or in some other way is ignoring you, just remember a part of their brain is listening. This part of their brain is always taking notes, so to speak. Thus, the words you repeatedly utter, over and over, often becomes THE underlying template for the messages that circulate in their brain. Every though from my client’s brain highlighted above flowed directly from very specific experiences this man had with his mother.
And…It’s Still Not Working!
Guess what? The pressure filled language we use with our teenagers doesn’t work for the teen. It does generate conflict, anxiety and disrupted relationships, but it is ineffective in getting easeful action and motivation. Guaranteed!
As we move forward ten or twenty years, we find those pressure filled thoughts are just as ineffective in an adult’s brain as they were for that teenage brain. In other words, the messages generate pressure and anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy, but do nothing for actually getting things done.
They do create much misery for us as adults. In a world with more luxuries than any generation in history could imagine, we are seeking more prescriptions for medications to help us solve out stressful thinking.
Nagging is Not a Parenting Plan
For now, my suggestion is this: Please understand that nagging, constant reminding, prodding, pushing and yelling at the kids is NOT a healthy parenting plan. In fact, it’s a bad habit. I use my adult client as an example so that you can see the possibilities that flow from such unhealthy patterns. Please don’t delay a change in your parenting, if you find yourself constantly nagging and harassing the kids to get going. Stop using your voice to try to try to control them, and commit to a better action plan. There are several layers to this discussion, and next week I will outline this in more depth.