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How to NOT Become the Control-Freak Mother of a Teenager

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As my daughter hits her teenage years, the potential for becoming a nightmare mother is becoming an all too real possibility.  How to walk the tightrope of firm and loving parenting, without control freak tactics or screaming matches? It is a testing job, particularly when she is asserting her independence and pushing the boundaries.

And how much freedom to allow her? The world can be a terrifying place, meaning the urge to smother and over-protect is strong. But – she needs to experience firsthand her own challenges and face fears to grow

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resilience. Too much protection will create an anxious child, who fears the world and plays it safe.

How to find the balance?

The ingenious ‘Animal Model’ created by the Maudsley Hospital in London, helps us parent in better ways, and reflect on the parenting we have received ourselves. Parenting styles are represented by rhinos, kangaroos, dolphins, jellyfish and ostriches!  As you navigate the tricky waters of parenting your teenage child, you will probably find yourself becoming all animal types at various points. You will also develop a

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fine-tuned understanding of your own parented experience. The aim is work towards becoming a Dolphin Parent, but we are all work in progress.

Rhino Parent – *she would probably ace it as a presenter on Location, Location, Location – having strong opinions and a highly persuasive manner. She will tell you what, when and how to do it, delivering her bossy wisdom with the upmost, best of intentions.

When you are on the receiving end of said parent, at times you might welcome the no-nonsense approach. Other times, you might feel a tad controlled,

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and quite angry. This might result in an all-out argument as your opinions clash.

If you don’t like conflict and feel unable to voice your opinion (or are unable to get a word in!), you may find yourself pleasing her and faking a happy smile, or rebelling secretly behind her back and feeling like a teenager all over again. Not great for self-worth.

Kangaroo Parent – she is lovely, caring and incredibly thoughtful. She anticipates your needs before you do. She is your protector, being a soft, fluffy cushion between you and the big, bad world.

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Kangaroo Parent can be just what the doctor ordered, when you’re ill in bed and needing some TLC.

Otherwise, this loveliness can feel a bit smothering and disempowering. You might feel that you can’t survive without your parent, as she has become so adept at stepping in and doing things for you. You fear making your own decisions or standing on your own two feet.

Ostrich Parent – she is off living her own life and is utterly absorbed in this. You hear from her occasionally, but in truth, she doesn’t have much time for you. She isn’t that

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interested in what you have to say or how you are coping emotionally. She might still care a lot deep down, but Ostrich Parent can leave you feeling neglected.

Jellyfish Parent is a worrier; you know your parent is a Jellyfish, when you avoid telling her your problems, as she will worry about the problem more than you! Jellyfish Parent is kind and caring, but her anxiety can get in the way of her being supportive. She will often think of the worst case scenario (not intentionally to upset you) but this is just how her mind works. If you are a worrier

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yourself, you might have a Jellyfish Parent who inadvertently taught you to do this as a child.

Dolphin Parent – is warm, caring and compassionate. She is your supporter and encourager. When you need her to help, she is there for you. When you want some space, she can take a step back and let you breathe. Dolphin Parent listens well; she is not quick to give advice; she has empathy. She makes you feel loved and accepted. Dolphin parent is also no walk-over. She self-cares well and has boundaries in place.

Consider which parenting types you relate

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to.

Work towards becoming a Dolphin Parent (as you can). Be kind and compassionate to yourself in your progress with this.

 Think about how you were parented and how this has impacted you.

 Consider how you would like to parent your own teenage child.

 

*she/he is interchangeable

 

 

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Harriet Frew

By

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- 26 Jul 18

As my daughter hits her teenage years, the potential for becoming a nightmare mother is becoming an all too real possibility.  How to walk the tightrope of firm and loving parenting, without control freak tactics or screaming matches? It is a testing job, particularly when she is asserting her independence and pushing the boundaries.

And how much freedom to allow her? The world can be a terrifying place, meaning the urge to smother and over-protect is strong. But – she needs to experience firsthand her own challenges and face fears to grow resilience. Too much protection will create an anxious child, who fears the world and plays it safe.

How to find the balance?

The ingenious ‘Animal Model’ created by the Maudsley Hospital in London, helps us parent in better ways, and reflect on the parenting we have received ourselves. Parenting styles are represented by rhinos, kangaroos, dolphins, jellyfish and ostriches!  As you navigate the tricky waters of parenting your teenage child, you will probably find yourself becoming all animal types at various points. You will also develop a fine-tuned understanding of your own parented experience. The aim is work towards becoming a Dolphin Parent, but we are all work in progress.

Rhino Parent – *she would probably ace it as a presenter on Location, Location, Location – having strong opinions and a highly persuasive manner. She will tell you what, when and how to do it, delivering her bossy wisdom with the upmost, best of intentions.

When you are on the receiving end of said parent, at times you might welcome the no-nonsense approach. Other times, you might feel a tad controlled, and quite angry. This might result in an all-out argument as your opinions clash.

If you don’t like conflict and feel unable to voice your opinion (or are unable to get a word in!), you may find yourself pleasing her and faking a happy smile, or rebelling secretly behind her back and feeling like a teenager all over again. Not great for self-worth.

Kangaroo Parent – she is lovely, caring and incredibly thoughtful. She anticipates your needs before you do. She is your protector, being a soft, fluffy cushion between you and the big, bad world. Kangaroo Parent can be just what the doctor ordered, when you’re ill in bed and needing some TLC.

Otherwise, this loveliness can feel a bit smothering and disempowering. You might feel that you can’t survive without your parent, as she has become so adept at stepping in and doing things for you. You fear making your own decisions or standing on your own two feet.

Ostrich Parent – she is off living her own life and is utterly absorbed in this. You hear from her occasionally, but in truth, she doesn’t have much time for you. She isn’t that interested in what you have to say or how you are coping emotionally. She might still care a lot deep down, but Ostrich Parent can leave you feeling neglected.

Jellyfish Parent is a worrier; you know your parent is a Jellyfish, when you avoid telling her your problems, as she will worry about the problem more than you! Jellyfish Parent is kind and caring, but her anxiety can get in the way of her being supportive. She will often think of the worst case scenario (not intentionally to upset you) but this is just how her mind works. If you are a worrier yourself, you might have a Jellyfish Parent who inadvertently taught you to do this as a child.

Dolphin Parent – is warm, caring and compassionate. She is your supporter and encourager. When you need her to help, she is there for you. When you want some space, she can take a step back and let you breathe. Dolphin Parent listens well; she is not quick to give advice; she has empathy. She makes you feel loved and accepted. Dolphin parent is also no walk-over. She self-cares well and has boundaries in place.

Consider which parenting types you relate to.

Work towards becoming a Dolphin Parent (as you can). Be kind and compassionate to yourself in your progress with this.

 Think about how you were parented and how this has impacted you.

 Consider how you would like to parent your own teenage child.

 

*she/he is interchangeable

 

 

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Harriet Frew

I'm a Mum of three (one daughter and twin sons). I'm a therapist specialsing in eating disorders and body image; working for the Adult Eating Disorder Service at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge and in private practice. I am passionate about supporting people to recover from eating disorders. I like to try my hand at ninja warrior training and parkour, when I have time!

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