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Respect

Learning to respect and appreciate the trials and tribulations of our wonderful angst-ridden teenagers. By Siri Arti

I have noticed myself quietly observing my young ones and noticing a deepening admiration for them. If you have adolescents in the house who join you for movie nights, you will most likely have been exposed to the modern Teen Film genre. Our movie nights at home are less frequent than they used to be, but when we do manage them I find myself happily snuggled between my two big kids, ready to be taken on a roller coaster ride of emotions and heartache. It has taken me some time to acclimatise to this way of viewing the world from a teenage perspective, but to be honest, the movies often awaken my own firmly hidden memories of being young and exploring the challenging walkways of my own teenage years.

This specific movie genre, which appeals to young people, explores the special interests of modern teenagers. Some examples are the typical coming of age stories, first love, awkward moments, teenage confusion and family conflict. There is rebellion, child-carers, drug/alcohol addiction, alienation and deep loneliness. Also heart-breaking stories of eating disorders, anxiety and depression as well as children’s cancer and other illnesses.

Respect is a two-way action. There can be an expectation on young people to show respect where none is shown to them. Where is the authenticity in that?

Mutual admiration
You might want to take a deep breath at this point. I know I do. I apologise that this is not light reading, but I urge you to be with the reality of what our beautiful children may be exposed to, and how to find ways to support them through it. My intention is not to go on about the dire state of affairs among modern teens or the rise in all things negative that people fixate upon. Instead I would like to raise the level of respect and admiration I have for them. I dream of a world where all young people feel seen and heard; a world where they feel support, love and respect. I know it is unrealistic for me to take on the world, so instead I start each day doing the best I can in my own home, a microcosm of the big wide world.

Last night, as we snuggled close and watched one of these movies, safe in our warm house, I wondered how things got so messed up for these kids. I felt an enormous respect for my two young people and all
the others out there navigating possibly turbulent tides. I found myself wondering how best to serve my own two children and how many of these stories they can personally relate to already.

Respect is a two-way action. There can be an expectation on young people to show respect where none is shown to them. Where is the authenticity in that? Mutual respect is far more effective. This will demand a level of trust from both parties. Commitment and practice, using open communication, kindness and honesty as a foundation in the home, is necessary. This can be role modelled by the parents and given opportunity to explore regularly.

Even when the going gets tough, can we dig deep and find some redeemable quality or value they own that is screaming out for admiration and respect?

Love in action
So, going back to the chaotic adolescent years, can we be in admiration of our young people? Even when the going gets tough, can we dig deep and find some redeemable quality or value they own that is screaming out for admiration and respect? Trust that when you have the ability to see even the smallest flicker of light inside the darkest flower, perhaps the flower will decide to bloom instead of wither. And then there will be times, where the flower chooses to wither anyway. Can you find it in yourself to respect the flower still?

Take time to observe the trust in your own home and in your relationships, and see where you can improve things. If the work is done, the changes will be noticeable. I asked some friends for their understanding of respect in the home and I will finish with this insightful quotation from Jennifer Kenny.

“Respect, I think, it is the foundation of all relationships in the home. It is love in action. Which may be why it demands so much from us. It is my touchstone. It is particularly tricky as our kids are so fluid as they grow and mature and we (hopefully!) are more defined. Committing to respect them and working hard in every moment to manifest that is also critical for them to learn self respect since our respect of them becomes a mirror for them.” (Jennifer Kenny, speaker, author and mentor).

Siri Arti is the founder of Starchild Yoga, which runs teacher trainings and workshops in the UK and overseas (starchildyoga.org)

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