Tots and T(w)eens

As a 40 year old, I had plans for my life, plans to travel, launch my kids and start the second half of my life, on my terms . . .

In November of 2007, just 2 months after my 40th, Sofia Marie, joined our family. Two years later, I had a toddler, a tween and a teenager.

I began noticing some shocking similarities between my t(w)eens and my toddler.
1. Their use of their vocal cords, one trying out new sounds; learning what

their body can do; the other trying out new values; learning what the mind can think.

2. Limited universes, the 2 foot rule. The little one is physically limited and can not reach out more than a foot or two. The older ones were perceptually limited and could not think beyond two feet of themselves. How was it that the pile of laundry four feet down went unnoticed for weeks??

3. Cries out for attention/acceptance. The little ones cry out overtly, while the teens cry out covertly. Are we paying attention?

4. They are master imitators, first of parents, then of peers.

5. Their need for autonomy. “No, I do it!” quickly becomes, silent treatment, eye rolling or the “whatever”.

6. Both ages need healthy limits for their safety. Just as toddlers walk by a stove saying “Hot, hot”. Teens walking by different sets of peers thinking “Trouble, trouble”. They know if they get involved they too will get burned. How do they learn that truth?

For a year, I began compiling a list of funny anecdotes as they relate to these similarities. A friend recommended The Developing Brain by Dan Seigel and Primal Teen and this is when things began to click for me. I learned that there are two times when the brain experiences explosive growth, 0-5 years of age and just prior to puberty. The brain needs similar stimulation and connection during the ages of 10 and 14 as it does as a newborn.

The needs are similar, but the delivery for meeting those needs is very different.

I believe we all want to be good parents. We take what worked from our upbringing, we try and mix it with what worked from our partnerʼs upbringing and make a stab in the dark at parenting. There has to be a better way. And that is what started my journey. I grew up with specific limits. My husband grew up with no limits. Together, we confuse our children because of our different approaches to parenting. This is called “asynchronous parenting.” Working together to reconcile these differences is challenging and continues to present opportunities for growth and understanding.

In my practice with families, I found that discovering a common language in parenting is the first step to compatible parenting. We often want the same things for our children, expressing those desires differently. Finding common ground through language takes some of the guessing game out of parenting.

As I start my practice as a Family Coach, I invite you to learn more about the House of Hope and parenting and the brain. Keep your eyes posted for upcoming workshops! They are high energy and a lot of fun. Come prepared to participate and share your journey because we are all in this together!

Christina Cuva Rodriguez, Intern Therapist

Christina Cuva Rodriguez, Intern Therapist