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Challenging Teenage Sons Blog

Transforming Conflict to Cooperation

The Best Valentine Gift for Your Teenage Son

By Dr. Mark Schillinger, DC  March 15, 2015

ValentineA teenage young man with parents – whether divorced or not - in unfulfilling or difficult relationships will often think that intimate relationships are nearly impossible. His profound disappointment and sadness often leads the young man to believe that life will always be hard.

Parents should know that, at this stage of their son’s brain development, he needs to see his parents as having a successful relationship. This time of transition is very confusing for him and he really needs to be exposed to mature, compassionate adult relationships. He does not need to see his parents argue or avoid each other. This will only cause him to withdraw from his parents.

Worse, a young man may relax or even abandon his responsibilities centered around school, hygiene and hobbies – except, of course, for playing his video games. This retreat - from himself, from family and from community - prevents him from learning that all relationships involve the feelings of others, not just their own.

Your Arguments Activates a Primal Response in Your Son
When you angrily argue with your intimate partner (and your partner angrily argues back), your teenage son perceives this as a threat to him. Two hormones (testosterone and vasopressin) cause your son to seek to defend himself and others (maybe even one of the parents). But he feels “stuck”, since he can’t really attack his own parents.

So he continues to feel aggressive impulses, but has no appropriate place to release them. Since he has little practice perfecting how to channel these impulses, he’ll become aggressive – whether it’s passive or offensive.

Naturally, this leads to a household where your angry faces create pervasive unhappiness, with everyone walking on eggshells.

When my children, Becca and Gabe, were teenagers, my former wife and I used to fight all the time. It drove our children away from us. Nothing has been more painful for me than watching my children act out their heartbreak by over-doing their exploration into drugs and alcohol.

Ancestral Wisdom
When our ancestors were brought together and needed to adapt to stressful conditions, they ensured safety and prosperity by having everyone freely share their physical and mental resources. People - including the children - needed to feel physically safe and emotionally secure to creatively express themselves. Then these contributions would help the group survive and prosper.

When everyone can voice what is true for them, without fear of repercussion, they have no need to “offend others” or “defend themselves.“ Answers to domestic or communal issues can appear because there’s a trust that each person innately wants to be part of the solution.

What Happened When We Stopped Fighting
So what did we do to restore loving and caring relationships with our children? Suzanne (my former wife) and I came to an agreed willingness to create two homes, where all four of us were unconditionally supported to improve intimacy. First, we practiced relaxing around our differences. Next, with a calmer environment consistently established, we helped each other discover our unique virtues. We soon became sympathetic toward each other, so that we could respectfully behave in ways that demonstrated our core values.

We have enjoyed being a tight knit, divorced-family for ten years. We share birthdays, holidays and special events together! There is no better feeling for Suzanne and me than to know that as we grow older, our children are happy, healthy and resilient.

How to Make Your Intimate Relationships Work
I recommend that you, the parents, learn how to understand, accept and celebrate the biological differences and similarities of men and women. Learn how to use the virtues that each gender innately possesses and how to communicate in a language that each of the different genders can understand.

Why Make Your Relationship Work?
While it can be difficult and seemingly impossible to enjoy more cooperation and love in a romantic relationship that’s currently not working well, it’s never too late to lead your family in the right direction. For those of you who courageously aspire to enjoy easeful relationships, it’s a journey that you should be willing to take. Why? Because the deeply rewarding payoff is more personal growth and spiritual development - True Happiness.

There can be no greater Valentine’s Day gift to give your son than to model for him how to have kind and collaborative relationships with others.

Originally posted on The Good Men Project:



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