Expanding Possibilities

Teenagers exploring a globe of the world

How do you help your teen grow and challenge them, without seeming pushy, when the possibilities appear to be out of sight? In this final installment of Building Better Relationships series, I’ll share a few experiences I had with my mom growing up in the Midwest.

When I was a child, I knew everything. I was born with a sense of determination and a strong feeling that big things were in my future. I was convinced that I knew all the answers to life’s big questions. And, if you wanted to know where you should be or what you should do, I’m sure I would have obliged you with an answer.

Offer Guidance

Luckily, I was gifted with a mother who was always there to offer guidance and support when the world did not live up to my ideas. She was the figure in the background, exposing to me the world as it was, rather than just my comfortable corner of it all.

Open Up Opportunities

Raising my brother and I, both born with physical disabilities, would have been a challenge in itself. But, offering both of us a clear glimpse of the complex world in which we live, that was the decision that turned challenge into a thrill. Although traveling did not make financial sense for our family at the time, my mom found another way to bring the cultures of the world to our home. My freshman year of high school we welcomed our first foreign exchange student. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to meet new people, discover new ideas, and experience places we would not have had the chance to otherwise.

Over the next four years, I was fortunate to connect with people from Brazil, Mexico, and Hong Kong. This was a growing experience that allowed me to think about life and the world in a new way. At the time of entering my post-secondary education, I had been introduced to people that gave me a whole new understanding of the world and my future in it.

Assist Rather than Control

This is when you know you have done your job as a parent. Allowing your child to be in the driver’s seat, while helping them navigate along the way. Keep in mind that it is you and the support you provide that opens your child’s eyes to see all of the possibilities.

Content from this blog was inspired by:
More useful tips on building better relationships with your teen

Pekel, K., Roehlkepartain, E. C., Syvertsen, A. K., & Scales, P. C. (2015). Don’t forget the families: The missing piece in America’s efforts to help all children succeed (summary of key findings). Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute. The complete study is available at www.search-institute.org/dff.

About the Author

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Anna Gouker

Anna is a writer and advocate – check out her blog: Anna Works…Let’s talk about employment, empowerment, and disability. She holds a Master’s of Science degree in Rehabilitation Psychology from UW-Madison.
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