Preserve the Relationship

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How we preserve the relationship with our teens comes directly with our behavior and how we treat them now.

I know the above print might not make sense, but just listen or read my thoughts on preserving and it just might be more clear!

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If you’d prefer to read, I’ve got the transcript below! You can even download the above print with or without words to hang and remind you about what your daily goal is in preserving!

Hello friends. Glad to have you join me on this journey to love, support and strengthen our teenagers beyond good intentions. I’m Kristen Duke and with this podcast I’ll interview people on various topics related to parenting teens, whether you’re in the trenches with the teens or still hanging with the toddlers, it’s never too early to plan ahead. My hope is that you’ll be able to grab tidbits implement in your home, family and school, and I’d love you to invite your friends to join along as well. Let’s get started.

My wonderful and amazing friends in parenting, I felt the need to sneak in one little conversation with you before I jump into the interviews that I’ve already prepared. I was planning to have an interview go live this week and then after I posted on Instagram on Friday, talking a little bit more about preserving the relationship and how our behavior can very directly affect the behavior of our teens.

Just the feedback that I got from you guys. I mean, I can’t make this stuff up! You guys and your contributions really do make this feel like a community. So I wanted to share a quote that somebody left and why I decided that before I jump into all these interviews, I need to talk a little bit more about preserving the relationship. So I’m going to read this thought from a commenter in our instagram community. They said, and this was on Friday when I shared the quote, look beyond the behavior and connect with your child.

Kristen Duke Parenting Teens

Comments from the Community

Under that quote I said, connect with your child. The most important thing is not your child’s behavior. The most important thing is your child. And I said, I want to hear your thoughts. And so somebody commented and it really, really affected me. They said, I’m working on it, not preserving the relationship but mending the relationship. And honestly I got a little sting in my eye and for a minute I was like, Oh Dang, I’m trying to share this hopeful message of preserving the relationship. And I’ve heard someone and I’ve heard someone who is struggling with their teams and aiming to mend a relationship. And for a minute my heart sunk. And then I thought, wait a minute. This message isn’t just about starting from playful toddlers who have fun and run around and dance around and we laugh with and preserving from that point on what we have well into their teen years and beyond preserving the relationship is so much more than that. And so this is what I did: I love going to whenever I write on Instagram or on a blog or any other place, I, you know, I’m trying to find a variety of words instead of just using the same old words.

But first,  I asked on Instagram, “what does preserve mean to you?” And several people commented laughing and said, it actually makes me think of strawberry jam or the canning process. And I was like, “yes!” That’s actually what I’ve been thinking of. And so go back to Friday and going into one aspect of preserve is to think about that jam process, right? You’ve got strawberries and you want to keep them for later, right? You want to be able to enjoy them later. So you make strawberry jam. And you know, I’ve made freezer jam, which is a little bit less of a process, but I looked it up online to look up the canning process, which is generally for things like vegetables.

Become a Preserver: Canning strawberry jam

And then I pulled up Martha Stewart and this is what she said, she wrote a post all about how to can and make jam and it’s called master canning and become a preserver. And I love that she said become a preserver. And she says that canning is a technique that can even intimidate the experienced cook. So we’re going to show you some basic canning techniques and the same method can be used for preserving other vegetables. And after you’ve mastered the basics, you can move on to more elaborate recipes. Okay. So I love that visual and comparing it to parenting the canning process, it’s a little intimidating and we all know the parenting process is intimidating, especially parenting teens is intimidating as I’ve heard from a lot of people. But there’s all these processes, there’s tools that you have to have and you have to do canning a certain way in order for it all to come together for the process to work out.

And so it mentions all of these supplies and processes and there’s these safety tips, make sure you do this and make sure you don’t do that. And then you’ve got this specific recipe and there’s all of these tips in the canning process. There’s actually quite a few steps in this canning process. And so as I read this, I got all excited. I thought it’s just like parenting. We’ve got tools, we’ve got people, we’ve got community members, we’ve got family members, we’ve got parenting books, we’ve got podcasts, we’ve got people discussing on Instagram different things. And just like the canning process, it’s a process! It’s a preservation process. So okay, I’m getting too excited and I’m skipping around a little bit.

What I did with is I typed in the word preserve, I wanted to see what the thesaurus told me about preserve and it says:

  • defend
  • safeguard
  • protect
  • retain
  • save
  • conserve
  • shield
  • watch over
  • uphold
  • maintain
  • protect

And so some of these words made me think of the fruit and canning process and some of these words made me think of another preserver. Are you with me?

What’s another preserver? Anyone? Anyone. I thought of a life preserver.

A Life Preserver

And so when this friend said this on Instagram on Friday and my heart got pricked a little bit and I felt sad for a minute, I was like, no!  Preserving the relationship isn’t just about maintaining which it is in the canning process. That’s one aspect of it. But preserve, is it saving, right? It’s rescuing and some of the words I saw also are defending and safeguarding and protecting. I see these words as hopeful and I see this for someone who’s maybe got a relationship or has a teen that they’re really struggling with and I see preserving the relationship as throwing out a life preserver to them who’s maybe partially drowning.

Maybe they’re really struggling and maybe your relationship is struggling. And the preserve process to me is about saving and defending and fighting for your relationship. Those are some words that were mentioned in so it doesn’t have to be when you hear that hopefully, cause I’m going to use this over and over again, this preservation process of whether it’s like the jam and we’re preserving or it’s thinking of it as a life preserver and saving or rescuing this word preserve and parenting go hand in hand.

Preserving a Portrait

So I actually asked my husband the other day and I said, what do you think of when I say the word preserve? And he said, well I think of a picture or a painting and you know to preserve a picture if it’s been damaged or you know you have an old picture like with your grandparents on it, it’s got scratches on it, you send it with someone to preserve it and they have a special process that they do to make it from damaged to becoming preserved and becoming like new again or becoming more whole or more complete. So I also love that visual and like I first thought of the jam and then the life preserver and then he mentions a picture and I thought of restoring it from a place that once was and kind of bringing it back to that place.

So I don’t know if you identify with one of these more than another, but I kind of want this to be flowing through your mind as it’s flowing through my mind. And I basically think of this podcast and Instagram as places where we can discuss and talk and get new ideas and within the community be able to share and we can all grow together. And my hope is that you don’t see, you know, my excitement about preserve the relationship as, “hey look at m!. I’ve got this all figured out. And all you have to do is just from the time that they’re five years old and you’re laughing and dancing around and just keep it that way and go team go!”

I hope that you understand that I’m learning as I go too, I mean I have a great relationship with my teens, but I know that I also have to continue what I’m doing. I have to watch myself. I am certainly not perfect and my kids know that I am not perfect and I struggle and I mess up and although I’m talking about different things and I’m asking people in the podcast interviews about certain things, it’s because I’m still learning and trying to figure it out. That was the whole reason I started this podcast is because I wanted to learn from other people and for some reason I don’t know why. It felt natural to me when I had teens to let go a little bit and to let go of control and to trust them a little bit more. And it wasn’t a difficult thing for me.

Parenting: Letting Go of Control

But the more I think about it, you know, I’ve been thinking a lot about control and it’s hard, right? I mean we’ve got babies. We have got to have full control. As parents, we are fully responsible and in control of everything that they do from eating to sleeping and to changing their clothes. And as they get a little bit older, we start to let go a little bit, but it’s still hard, right? We still have to give them boundaries, like don’t run out into the street and be careful here. And as they get older it’s really hard because we are expected to have full control in the beginning. And the hardest part about this parenting Gig is that we’re supposed to relinquish control as they get older. And it’s hard because we still know the challenges that are out there and the dangers and we don’t have that same control that we did when they were younger.

And that’s hard for us to be able to let go and to be able to trust that the things that we’ve taught them are going to be ingrained in their minds. And sometimes they’re going to do things that they’re going to lose our trust and they’re going to say things and they’re going to have attitudes that are going to boil our blood on the inside. And what we have to control is ourselves. What we have to control is our behavior and to me that is what preserve their relationship is about. It’s about our behavior as parents, how we respond to them, no matter what it is that they do to us, no matter what it is that they choose, preserving the relationship despite the fact that they have done x, y, Z, whether it’s broken a family rule or spoken unkindly to me or been mean to your siblings or gone and done drugs despite the fact that you have done these things, I am going to preserve our relationship.

Treat Teens with Respect

I am going to treat you with love and respect. I’m going to let you know that I’m disappointed. I’m going to let you know that I don’t approve and I may possibly ground you from x, Y,Z , but the way that I’m going to do it is having this phrase, preserve the relationship all over my mind, always in my view, and like I said, we still have to put those safeguards. We still are teaching them how to become adults. They’re not quite there yet, even though they think that they are. But it’s our behavior. Preserving the relationship to me is about the parent’s behavior. So I wanted to read a couple of quotes and actually their comments from people on Instagram and when I posted and I said, when you hear the word preserve, what do you think of? And so I love that some people said, I think about strawberry jam and they talked about preserving food.

Comment 1: It says, I think about preserving as a change or a shift happening and the relationship gets sweeter. I actually made jam yesterday and the fruit was great, fresh. I mean strawberries are delicious. And by preserving it I added sugar and Pectin and it made it even sweeter. I love that visual strawberries are great, but when you add a little sugar and pectin and the process of preservation, it’s even sweeter and we can enjoy that longterm. We can enjoy that jam longterm. The work that we put in now is beneficial longterm. So that’s what, I love this, this canning process, but I just like to think of strawberry jam. So I’m probably going to be using strawberries quite often when I think about it, when I think we can think about it as longterm effects that come from preservation.

Comment 2: Somebody else said, I think of change when we preserve, there has to be a change that takes place. So whatever you’re changing stays preserved. So we need to continually evolve in our pain or in parenting to preserve the relationships. I can’t treat my 16 year old like I did when they were 5. It’s a continual process. You have to be 100% committed to the preservation and not take offense to the criticism that they have of you or of your parenting style.

When your teen says “I hate you”

I don’t know if any of you have ever heard your child say, “I hate you.”  I’ve seen this discussion on social media at some point in the past and I saw a parent wrote one time, and it was one of those things that I knew that their child was on social media and they likely could have been a little bit sad that they were airing out their parent-child conversation. And I saw lots and lots of parents responding.

“Oh yes, been there, done that.”

“My kids have said, I hate you to me.”

“And if your child doesn’t ever say that I hate you, then you’re not doing something right.”

And I personally don’t believe that. Okay. I think you can definitely parent without hearing your child say, I hate you. But just in hearing that, if your child think about this, if your child says to you, I hate you, what is your response? Of course your blood is probably boiling. You’re going to take offense. You’re going to think to yourself, I’m doing this to protect you. But how was your response and what is your response?

And I love what this commenter 2 said about committing to the preservation process and not taking offense. And it’s hard not to get offended when we think to ourselves and our child treats us this way.

We think: “I’ve done this, I’ve done that.

I put a roof over your head.

I pay for your food.”

You know, whatever it is. You run through the list of things and you think how ungrateful they are. But if you can think yes, you can think that in your heart it will hurt for sure, but if you can think about preserving the relationship, your response will be different to that. So I loved that this comment said, be committed to the preservation process.

Comment 3: And another commenter says, “For me, preserving a relationship is one of my parenting WHYS, it guides, my words and actions and leads to apologies when my words and actions don’t match my why.”

Apologize to your Teens

I am a big fan of apologizing and I’ve talked about this before and I’ll probably talk about this again. I’ve messed up, I’ve lost my temper, I have said things I shouldn’t and I apologize to my kids quite a bit over the years.

And you know what? They’re pretty quick to forgive.

They’re actually probably pretty surprised to hear their parent apologizing to them and I think it sends a message to them in, and I’m not going to apologize for grounding or being upset for their actions. I’m apologizing for my own personal behavior that I shouldn’t act out of anger or rage. And yeah, I can be frustrated or angry, but I can apologize for the way I respond. I think an apology can go a long way. So in this comment it says we discuss and partner rather than me being the dictator, it means I take into account their feelings and desires and empathize even when we disagree. So you’re going to disagree on a lot of things. But if you can empathize, I love that word… and validate, hear them out, whatever it is, whether they’re late for their curfew or whether they’re secretly dating someone behind your back after you’ve said no dating or maybe they snuck their phone up to their room when they know that they’re not supposed to as a family rule, talk to them about it.

Let them know once again why it’s a rule. Maybe there’s a consequence and you can say, maybe I recognize that that’s frustrating for you.

Validate your Teens Emotions

I recognize that you like this person. I know that you wanted to stay out later. We just can’t have that. And so therefore you’re going to have a consequence. And so this commenter goes on to say we have to shift our roles a bit as they grow. Sometimes it feels like we’re giving up too much control, but it’s vital for them to feel like they have ownership in their own life, so I just loved that so much. She also says the stakes are higher, the less control we have. So yeah, it’s terrifying to let go of control a little bit and that’s just a big part of what we have to do and that’s just a part of the parenting and the teen process and somebody else says preserves bring back the past to me the days of canning so that we can later enjoy the things that are in the jar.

That’s what preserve the relationship is as well. We take the time through the hard times when our children are really thinking for themselves so that when they are adults we can enjoy the wonderful people that they already are. I love that. If we are preserving the relationship now than we can enjoy their relationship when they are adults and having grandbabies and all that fun stuff that I am personally looking forward to.

Comment 4: Somebody else said, preserve to me means to take care of something treasured. I have an antique dresser that belongs to my grandma. She used it, my mom used it. It was my dresser growing up and now it’s in my daughter’s room and it’s very treasured. We need to preserve and treasure our relationships with our teens. It doesn’t mean that we have to always agree about everything, but we do need to listen and show respect for one another at all times.

Respect for Teens

And I love that word. Respect. I think often parents or adults think, well, I’m the adult and I’ve had life experience and you need to respect me. Well, we need to figure out a way to respect our teens as well. And I actually made a video Treating Teens with Respect about a year ago when one of my kids came home very frustrated with the way a teacher was treating them. And so this isn’t just about parenting, this is about adults in general and how they’re treating teens. I think there’s so much talk about, “oh, these teens, they don’t know anything and Oh, they’ve just got their hormones raging and this”, this stuff is happening in front of teenagers and they’re (adults) laughing about it and making fun of it and imagine what it’s doing to their self esteem. It’s basically teens reading between the lines saying, adults think that we’re lame, they think we’re idiots. They see us as children and they think that we don’t know anything.

And so I think just showing respect and being respectful of the fact that yeah, they’ve got hormones raging, they don’t have, they don’t need to have it pointed out to them. It’s hard enough. It’s already an insecurity for them to have other adults making fun of them. I just think that is how we can be respectful of them is to recognize in our hearts that they got a lot of things going on in their bodies and their minds and their hearts right now. And we can do our parts to help safeguard them, to help them feel respected and help them feel like they are worthy of our respect through the way that we treat them once again through our behavior to them.

Comment 5: And then somebody else said, “I broke down the word preserve pre meaning first and serve meaning help. So if you want to preserve something, it’s the first kind of help that make a difference.

I thought that was interesting as well. Breaking down the word.

Comment 6: Someone else said, it reminds me of canning. You have to put a lot of time and effort and you usually don’t taste the fruits of your labor until much later. We don’t preserve so that we can see immediate results we preserve for the future. I love that we’re not preserving for immediate, we’re preserving for the future. However, we can preserve for immediacy in our parenting as well. But if we’re not seeing that, if we’re having a frustrated relationship, if we’re not seeing eye to eye, if they’re ignoring you and not talking to you, it isn’t for now. It is for the future. It is so that you can have that relationship in the future.

Comment 7: Another person said, just being there no matter what, being there safe place to come home to. I feel like lately I’ve been too quick to get frustrated and yell. I really need to work on being understanding and loving so I don’t push them away while they are young. This parenting thing is so tough, but if we let them see that we are doing the best that we can because we love them, no matter what, we can be their safe haven. They’re strong force and help them stand up against this crazy world. They will always want to have our relationship.

I love that safe haven. You think about a storm, right? And a life preserver and a storm. We can be that safe haven. We can be that safe place for them and even if they’re not seeing that right now, our continual work towards it. It will let them know. They will remember the things that we said. They will remember the way that we made them feel and they will come around if we are doing our part to preserve the relationship and I love that safe haven, the definition of unconditional love.

We show love in how we act in what we say and how we say it as well as positive attention. We get them. Someone else said fighting for our relationships over behaviors. Anyway, I just wanted to share those because I was already planning on talking about the preservation process of jam and canning as well as a life preserver and then I recorded this a little later than I planned and I said this is perfect. I love hearing what other people say about preservation. It really adds to the discussion and I’m getting all fired up about this because I’m so excited and I really hope it doesn’t feel off putting and that this feels hopeful. If we can think about preserving our relationship as not just continuously, you know, doing everything perfectly, but to also safeguard and to also see it as a way that just like a life preserver, we can reach out to our kids who are drowning, who are suffering or we have a broken relationship with and we can mend it.

There is Hope in a broken relationship

I believe in the hope of turning things around. Even if you feel like in the past few years you’ve messed things up or you feel like it’s been forever going to be broken. I don’t believe that. I believe that if we can change our behavior, we can show our kids that we seriously want to change our behavior and I believe they will see that. And I think sometimes it’s going to take a little bit of time for retroactively turning things around. But I believe in that process. And that’s something that I feel passionately about. And that’s something that I feel like I have been sent a message that I am here to share. And so I’m excited and I hope that you can understand from that perspective. I hope that you can help share that message with others who may be feel that that hope is gone. I don’t believe that hope ever has gone.

I think we’re in this parenting relationship, not just for now, for life, for longterm. I believe in families even after this life. And I believe that us working on our relationship continually will longterm benefit for the better. And it’s going to take hard work just like that canning process. Lots of steps, lots of tools, and there’s a handful of different ways to go about doing it for a similar type process. But it’s going to take some work and it’s going to take a change on our part and it’s gonna take us recognizing where we can change, recognizing that we don’t have to have it all figured out. We’re learning as we go and help our children to know that we make mistakes and that we’re trying and that we love them. And I know everyone says I love my kid and they know that I love them, but I think it’s in our behavior.

One of those things, it’s modeling, right? We have to model that behavior and that can be overwhelming and frustrating at times and it can feel like a weight on our shoulders. But I really do believe that that’s how they know we love them, not just from the words but by behavior and how we are treating them. So that’s it for this episode and I will step off of my ‘preserve the relationship’ soapbox now and I hope you can help me spread this message and look forward to future interviews.

I am trying to change my process. I took some input that y’all shared with me recently about podcasts and I’m shifting and changing some things and I’ve done a few interviews and a few things are in my head to change for some of my future interviews. So I hope you’ll hang in there with me as I’m trying to revamp this process, but please message me if you have any thoughts about topics that you’d like to discuss or if you have a topic that you’re excited to discuss.

I would love to hear that as well and I’d love to interview you. I have a handful of people that I am planning to interview and many more exciting things going on in the future, all revolving around how we can love our teams and better respect our teens and better communicate and connect with our teens. I’m still working on figuring out how each of my children, they’re different and I have a different relationship with each of my kids and what one works on one doesn’t work on another and so it’s definitely a continual process.

So with this episode, I would love for you to check out our Amazon store (I found some FUN strawberry things!) where I’ve shared some of our family favorite things, and it definitely supports this episode if you purchase from that link, I’m always grateful for your reviews on iTunes and especially if you’re willing to share this with your friends through a text or through social media. I’m grateful and it really helps a lot. Thank you for joining me on this journey as we aim to take our parenting beyond good intentions.

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