Monday, 22 October 2012

Poetry in Motion - my therapy!

Poetry in Motion

Last Monday I was commissioned into Source and I am now a new member of a church family – one without walls or the normal religious traditions but one where I can grow and explore my faith and serve the community as well.  After spending a lot of time wanting to find a church that suited my open minded, simple and liberal views of my faith I am so glad to be a member of such super group of people.  

While having breast cancer treatment my faith deepened and I believe that sometimes in our hardest moments faith does that as we reach out for hope. Now in recovery, I have a deep need in myself to serve others but not sure of the direction I want to go in.  I am  currently exploring becoming a hospital visitor through hospital chaplaincy where I think that some of my experiences, skills and gifts can be used to comfort others through hard times.  Faith is such a personal thing and for me it has been very much a movable intangible part of my life, it’s withered, it’s blossomed, it’s been put on a dusty shelf forgotten, but it has never died.  As with everything in my life at the moment I also reached out at this time and wrote a poem which was my witness to faith.

“Poetry is, above all, an approach to the truth of feeling . . .. A fine poem will seize your imagination intellectually—that is, when you reach it, you will reach it intellectually too— but the way is through emotion, through what we call feeling.” Muriel Rukeyser

I have always written poetry throughout my life but usually when I am depressed and only for myself - and got writers block through the good times.  Now, however, I find that the more I write the more the creative juices are flowing and because I am sharing my poetry it has led me into some unexpected situations, directions and meeting some very interesting, varied and diverse people. Life is an adventure once more. 

“Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.”  T.S. Eliot

My poetry is like therapy, almost like a counselling session with myself listening to what my inner heart is saying. Putting the words on paper is taking the feelings out of my system and performing the poem in a public forum is the final releasing of those feelings. I have written poems on my depression, my breast cancer journey, abuse, and death of a loved one, some of the nightmare scenarios I have been in, events and funny situations, my family all with a little part of me in them.  Sometimes it is letting go of such hidden, primitive,  painful, and negative feelings so personal to me that I can breathe again.

“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.” Thomas Gray

I have just found a poetry site called and I have started to publish some of poems there.  Some of the poems I research - recently I did one on the “Los 33” from a mistress' point of view for the 2 year anniversary which was in this month of October.   It was a good feeling to go back in time and be reminded of the elation of the world when the Chilean miners were rescued and the fact that the world seemed united together in their plight.  It really proved that the world can come together and miracles do happen when we work together.  I did find though that the poem is meant to read and not performed as it is a bit long!

“Poetry comes nearer to vital truth than history.” Plato

 I also performed two poems I especially wrote for National Anglican Autism. I published these on my last blog because I did tweet about attending this event a lot and thought I should share the poems!  Again I did a little bit of research on autism so my poetry was factually correct and mirrored some feelings that those who actually have autism, but it is general exploring the spectrum of Autism and accepting the differences in all of us that make up the tapestry of life.

“Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.” Georges Brague

I do think though the poems that are slightly divorced from my reality are not as good as the ones that are true experiences and I put my emotions into.

“Poetry is important. No less than science, it seeks a hold upon reality, and the closeness of its approach is the test of its success.” Babette Deutsch

The other poem was for my for my nephew who has Asperger’s.  At the time of writing it, It made me realize just as a parent how difficult at times it must have been for my sister to cope with my nephew, and that in many ways I have never recognized this fact – he is a fine young man, who has come through particularly hard times recently but is now regaining his confidence.  So writing my poetry, and listening to others poetry, has also given me insight and grown my own compassion and empathy.

“The poem . . . is a little myth of man's capacity of making life meaningful. And in the end, the poem is not a thing we see—it is, rather, a light by which we may see—and what we see is life.” Robert Penn Warren

A lot of my friends say I have a way with words, but I don’t really think so – my poetry is raw and literal compared to others, and I most realize this when I am with all the talented poets around me at both the poetry groups I attend  - those that take my breath away in awe.  I so admire those poets that can take a subject like their favorite book, artist, character and twist and construct a poem about them with their own feelings binding and twining them into the poem they have written. It’s not something I have really tried to do yet. I also admire those rapping poets who can get their emotion across through the rhythm of words.  And then there are those poets that take you on a journey as a storyteller, and those who just give you at tingle and reaction through laughter and emotion. There are so many aspects of my poetry I have started to experiment with and seeing other people styles I can play with these incorporating some of it into my own poetry – although I think that perhaps rapping is not one of them.  

“The essentials of poetry are rhythm, dance, and the human voice.”  Earle Birney

Through joining two poetry groups and performing at different local events I have met so many different people, from different walks of life, ages and with their own style, their own story and surprising insights that really does prove the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover”!  Although, I’m not going to meet my soul mate (although that would be nice but not high on my expectations!), I know that my conversations of late have become much more interesting, have gained knowledge, insight into others emotions, grown as a person and more importantly now writing much better poetry!

“Poetry is like making a joke. If you get one word wrong at the end of a joke, you've lost the whole thing.”  W.S. Merwin

Contrary to some of my friend’s opinion I don’t think poetry is actually that hard to write – it doesn't need to rhyme, you do not have to use lots of describing words, and although the rhythm of the poem is important if you are going to be perform it, what really matters is that you put a part of yourself, some of your own emotion into the poetry and it will then connect with other people when they read or hear it.  Poetry is after all just a snapshot of a moment in time like a photograph and reflection of ourselves.

“Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.” Audre Lorde

Do have a go at writing poetry, just write down some random thoughts, one liners may be a few quotes and then try and weave those words together into something magical and you never know where you may end up! 

“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.”  Kahlil Gibran

For those who may be interested and live near or in Colchester - SKOPT (Some kind of poetry thing) meets on the first Wednesday of each month at Slackspace and Colchester Poetry meet on the first Tuesday of the month at 15 Queen Street.  - bit of a shame twice in the same week but there again it does get the poetry out of your system all at once!


Put your feet up and relax
Take a chair
Put your feet up
Have a cup of tea
And relax
Switch on your computer
Change your screensaver picture
And put on your Facebook
Play some inane games
And your let your mind disconnect
Go on twitter
Make a funny remark
After dinner start to settle back
Dirty dishes still in the sink
Cat litter beginning to stink
The sound of the TV in the background
Glancing over screen now and again
As you sort out your email
The devil is in the detail
You miss
Replies, responses and online chat
Still you haven’t spoken
No mixed up emotion
No physical reaction
Everything coming with a caveat
As you access my space
And Google for the rest of the night
You think you unwind
With an overloaded mind
And when it’s time to sleep
You have bubbles popping in your head
Worry about everything undone
All that's been unsaid

Autism -Poetry

For those who follow my tweets I thought I would post the two poems I wrote for a recent "open mic" fundraiser - next blog to coming soon! The first poem is about the spectrum of autism which can differ widely for each individual and he second is for my nephew who as Asperger's .  Originally the poem had his name and was called after him but I have now taken this out. 

I hope you enjoy and any critique is welcome!

Accept me for who I am

I gaze into the spinning prism, a kaleidoscope of dancing rainbow lights
In the entrancing thrall I still hear you voice but just a distant echo,
your touch a whisper of pain.
And I hide in the sunlight melting shadow
Perceiving the world differently from you

My body is not here disconnected with sensory overload
That I am uncomfortable in my own skin
 Distracted by unbearable loudness,
Lost in swirling sensations within
Why can’t you hear the things I hear?

Spinning, rocking, flapping - calming my anxiety
The moving stimulation of the physical  
Resisting the overwhelming tidal wave
And reaching for the ordered and logical
I shut myself off and retreat to my own world

I understand what you say, and emphasise with your confusion
Its outside my comprehension, I’m blinded to your emotion
I don’t have the words of comfort
And instead bore you with my one-sided conversation
Choosing to respond in another way

Sometimes I wonder who the person that you see before you is
In this world full of contradictions
Despite our differences we have much more in common
Where people don’t mean and meet their own convictions
The truth is the truth and I live by the rules,

Beautiful rhythms of the connections in your brain: for me not the same. 
With accelerated growth at the wrong time
My brain just developed too quickly "wired" atypically
I see differently but I can find Waldo every time
I am not designed to be like you

You have preconceived notions and unrealistic expectations
I am just different, I don’t have a disability
Why do you ostracize me and laugh behind my back
I don’t understand your sarcasm your irony
 I don’t judge you why do you judge me

I am quirky with a condition of social dyslexia
Look first for similarities between us and know that I cannot lie
What is the measure of weirdness to normal?
There is more to me than meets the eye
Accept me for who I am
I am Autistic

Amazingly Understanding Through Innocently Surprising Truthful Imperfection Constructively:  you and I can accept the differences in us all

My Nephew

There is something different about my nephew;
There is something in him I admire
While others have considered him geeky, nerdy, eccentric
and socially awkward
lacking the social graces
I see someone as gentle with the calmness of being straight-forward
and a grand sense of humour.
Honesty is his hall mark and how many of us can say we cannot lie
His eye contact may be infrequent, interpretation everything as literal
Unable to express his emotion - overreacting to stimuli
But he is only slightly different to you and I

He has a base guitar, obsessed with heavy rock and metal
Has a beer with his mates, and practices with his own band
Sometimes he can be quiet and withdrawn,
Wanting his own space
And when teased and tested he doesn’t quite understand
Without knowing the questions he wants to ask,
He has found the courage to change direction
Developed his own unique personality
with his own unique perception

He notices and feels both too much and too little
You can’t put him in a box or pigeon hole who he is
Sometimes you can hear his thoughts whirring in his head,
with a strong sense of social justice and clear moral beliefs.
You may say he is emotionally immature and slow to catch on
But he has emerged from years of struggle,
from bullying and isolation
I admire him for who he is and the obstacles he has overcome
in a world full of confusion, and where we
are all searching for freedom from our disillusion 
He is a breath of fresh air

Saturday, 6 October 2012

In theory may not be the same in practice!

After my last blogs on the teenage brain (a blog a long time in the posting), life for me at moment seems a bit like theory doesn't necessary work in practice! 

“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they are not.”― Albert Einstein

The theory was that I would stop smoking on the 1st of October but the doctor messed up my prescription, and despite reading the Alan Carr book, I do need the help of non-smoking products in place, so I am waiting for the Nicorette mist, have the patches and I bought an electronic cigarette – so the when I get my mist I will ready to start giving up – but whether that happens in practice is another thing altogether at all – and willpower will probably be more the problem.

I know quite a number of people who have stopped smoking for October – “Stoptober” including some friends so I know I have to do it, not just for my health, my son, money and for myself but also to support those who are also giving up this month  – I've taken the first step going to the doctor about it – so I just need to take the next step …….

“Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I've done it thousands of times. “ - Mark Twain

The theory is that I will start and take an exercise class one day a week, Zumba being the favoured one at the moment, but when I get home from work I have been so tired that I just can’t do it, and then my friend didn't contact me to go either. So will it happen – well maybe eventually!

 “Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.” ― Robert Maynard Hutchins

The theory is I will manage to get up earlier so I can be in on time for work – in  practice usually there is some mini crises at home that delays me getting out of the door, or that the buses have all changed their ticketing machines which the bus drivers are finding difficult to get used to and operate so that all the buses have been late as people queue to get on, and I didn't get to work on time once last week.!

A funny story I heard from my friend on facebook this week  – my friend is always running late, especially in getting the children to school on time.  She went to a parents evening and met one of the teachers  who was so concerned decided she was  going to text her every morning to ensure that she got up and left the house on time to get the children to school.   The first day the teacher texted to wake her up, my friend texted back to say she was up and received the text “now get dressed”!

“I always arrive late at the office, but I make up for it by leaving early.”  ― Charles Lamb

The theory is that my son and I will work out a series of chores which we are both responsible for – in practice I still end up doing everything myself or it won't get done, and I don’t always have the energy to do it all! 

“I can’t clean house and save the world at the same time.”  - Anonymous

I think what I am basically saying is that it’s all very well to think about what you are going to do, how you are going to it, but it’s the actual doing it that matters, and learning to be flexible - something is always bound to come along and spoil your plans.  As far as I am concerned very rarely does anything work out how you want it to be, but as the saying goes :

“…… you end up in the place you need to be”.

For a long time now I have had different ideas of what direction I want my life to go in, but much of it is still exploring the theory without the practice.  I tell myself to stop procrastinating but it does no good!

“The traveller was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes "sight-seeing." -  Daniel J. Boorstin

Next week is my breast cancer scan, and I am holding my breath in waiting to exhale.  I am wary of making plans or looking forward until after this happened.  In a lot of ways I am directing my life still by living one day at a time and, although this is not a bad thing at all, I do think I should also be looking at tomorrow, next week, next month, next year as well and have some longer terms goals.  But there is a catch – if I make plans there is the risk that all those plans will just disappear into nothingness if the cancer is not in remission, if it come back and do I need to make contingencies for this scenario?

“The only thing that holds us back is fear itself”

Ok, if someone asked me the same question – I would say just go for it.  Do what you think is the right thing for you now and just follow the path where it takes you and just change direction if the path is blocked  - you never know you may end up somewhere better than where you thought you would be – that’s partly what life is all about – dealing with ruined plans!

“Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions, these can be changed as your priorities change, new one added, and others dropped.”

One area I am feeling really good about is my poetry.  I have now done two performances, and have another one next week – a fundraiser for autism, and then it’s the poetry slam.  I have found it exhilarating performing poetry that I have written myself and have joined two poetry groups meeting different, interesting and some slightly eccentric people from all walks of life – with the one thing we all seem to have in common is that we are all a bit angst ridden.  Joining these groups have broadened, endorsed and strengthened my belief that you should never judge anyone by what they look like or where they come from, we all have a story to tell, and should never judge anyone until you have walked in their shoes.  By opening up my horizons, and sharing my poetry I am growing as a person and my poetry is getting better too.

Poetry isn't a profession; it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”  -  Mary Oliver

I love doing my blogs, those that I research and opens up my knowledge about a subject and those, like this, in which I open up about my life and feelings.  I will never regret starting it, or continuing with it and I hope as I go through the twist and turns of my life to carry on with it.  If it just brings one smile, one bit of inspiration, support and thought to one person it is worth it.  Maybe one day I will put some of my blogs together and write a book, or a soap episode!  –  or it may encourage me believing that I could write a book one day.  There is after all, a novel in each of us!

“All of my problems are rather complicated - I need an entire novel to deal with them, not a short story or a movie. It's like a personal therapy.” - Manuel Puig

At the moment life seems to be so much better – the cats, Jellybean (now 8 months) and Dave (my 2 year old rescue cat) – at last seem to be more settled and more importantly happy and well.  Jellybean fell off my balcony (not high) two months ago and broke her hip but she is now jumping, running around and has just been let out into the wide world outside and is so much happier.  She was never meant to be a house a cat being more the hunter and a climbing up trees cat.  But she is also so loving, and has such a cheeky character – a real princess.  Dave became infected by a flea bite and became so miserable starting to lick his fur off his body.  After a visit to the vet, steroid injection and antibiotics he is a different cat as playful as the kitten and so vocal but also a scavenger cat eating anything he can get his paws on – I suppose some habits just don’t go away.  Both Jellybean and Dave have re-bonded and it is so sweet to see them together, play together and square up for who gets the most comfortable position in their cat basket (a space inside the basket and one on the top) and very entertaining it is too especially when they both squeeze themselves into the same space!  They even vie for the same space on my lap!!!!!

"Of all domestic animals the cat is the most expressive. His face is capable of showing a wide range of expressions. His tail is a mirror of his mind. His gracefulness is surpassed only by his agility. And, along with all these, he has a sense of humour." - Walter Chandoha

A couple of friends recently undertook the Race for Life and had my name on their t-shirts.  One ran, one walked as part of a team.  I went down to support them (with my pink bunny ears) and the atmosphere at the race was electric and very humbling – all these women willing to race for cancer in memory of someone loved who has been blighted with cancer, or to raise funds for research or families of those who have cancer.  Next year I want to do the midnight walk for the local hospice and the Race of Life. I have also now been thinking more specifically where I would like to volunteer and make a difference, and have been thinking of become a Lay Chaplain at the hospital – I think that this could become a calling for me – my sense of giving back, providing service without reward, and bringing a comfort to people seems to be to be an extremely worthwhile route to travel.

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." -  Ralph Waldo Emerson

My life is far from perfect though, or as I would want it to be – the difference now, than several years ago, is that I have learned to be happy with what I have and everything else is a bonus.  Having depression, breast cancer and having made loads and loads of mistakes in the past has led me to this place – I have learned gratitude and this has led to tolerance, empathy and a certain degree of happiness and  a deeper spirituality.  I told my doctor recently that I no longer felt depressed (although not ready to let go of the depression pills yet!) and he asked me why – I said that having breast cancer had made me realise that it is a waste of time and energy being unhappy.   It’s a waste of time wishing situations haven’t had happened, and to wallow in what has been done, what has been said or hasn't been said - it is in the past – and although the past shapes us to who we are in the present it doesn't mean that it defines us and the future can’t be different.

“My past has not defined me, destroyed me, deterred me, or defeated me; it has only strengthened me.” ― Steve Maraboli

Aunts and uncles that live locally to me still have not contacted me, I felt neglected and badly let down by them throughout my chemo days where their silence and the lack of communication, visits and concern and support was keenly missed and still wonder what did I say or do that was so wrong that they felt I deserved this.  I would never wish for them to feel how they made me feel especially through such dark days and particularly their inaccessibility for open, honest and direct communication, empathy, thought or understanding and the inability of looking at both sides of feelings and emotions.   It does sadden me and I used to dwell on it with tears, not just for me alone but also for my father who feels keenly the hurt that I feel and which in turn has hurt him as well.  But what has been done has been done and frankly as every day goes by I move on.  I didn't have the strength, or wanted to feel the continuance of poison of anger and the sadness in my heart, to deal with this, and in reality the passing months since February have not just been about physical recovery but also emotional recovery. 

There is no such thing as a "broken family." Family is family, and is not determined by marriage certificates, divorce papers, and adoption documents. Families are made in the heart. The only time family becomes null is when those ties in the heart are cut. If you cut those ties, those people are not your family. If you make those ties, those people are your family. And if you hate those ties, those people will still be your family because whatever you hate will always be with you.”  - ― C. JoyBell C.

It been nearly over a year now since I have had any in-depth conversation with some of my family here locally and the longer it goes on I feel the harder it will be to have contact at all.  I have developed my own support networks and, although not quite the same, friends have become my family instead.

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves” - Edna Buchanan,  “The capacity for friendship is God's way of apologizing for our families.” ― Jay McInerney

I know that this blog has been a bit of a waffle, but it is snapshot of where I am now in life.  My affirmations to stay optimistic, stay positive, to believe the best of people and celebrate our differences, and have love and gratitude in my life are the ones I want to follow.  I find that these days I am a little dismissive of people who are judgmental,  cynical of life and have little respect for others – and admire those who serve without expecting reward, those who inspire by positivity and can show kindness, laughter and encouragement of others.

Finally this blog has been about that theory may not work in practice but you have to try in the first place to find this out, and that life has unexpected consequences and surprises in store for us all and you find your own coping mechanisms. My niece is having a baby and I am going to be a great aunt (gosh that sounds old!), her grandma has just died which reminds me of the cycle of life and death, of endings and beginnings, and fresh starts.  Only we can change our lives and it is never too late to start.  Good things and bad things happen to everyone but we can never tell whether the bad thing is actually a good thing.  Not that I would ever wish any of things on anyone that have happened to me but having cancer has given me a complete change of attitude to life and look at me now becoming a performing poet!

Who can tell?
As I ran my fingers through the strands of time
Twisting and weaving them to a single thread
I found my fortune in gold
Walking through life focused on one path, one vision, one story
Missing the signposts of chance and opportunity -
of happy happenstance, and unexpected misfortune
Casting my cares on the trade winds
Will there be sunshine or rain?
On a turn of a card a gambler wins or is ruined
Addicted on risk and accidental impropriety
Two sides of a coin spinning where does it fall?
And who can say which side of the coin has the most value of all?
I was looking for something that was undefined,
And walked down instead the path less travelled
And found an abundance of gratitude and change to a positive attitude
Gaining the intangibility of spirituality
the joy of spontaneity
the surprise of serendipity
happiness within my soul

                Belinda Colaianni Federl, October 2012

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Teenage Brain Part III - Parenting tips

A teenager's psychological flaws are typically blamed on society, bad parenting or out-of-control hormones and if we were describing a group of society as selfish, reckless, irrational, irritable and impossible it could only be one thing: the teenager – that odd creature that invades our homes for what seems like an eternity and tests the limits of our reasoning skills and patience.  I think I should just say here that teenagers are not like this all the time 24/7 and there are times of laughter, admiration and pride and the fact that I just love my teenager to bits!

However, by enabling me to glimpse inside a teenager's brain, it may make me a better parent more sympathetic to my teenager and realise that he has a deep rooted need for both greater independence and tender loving care.

The teenage years are critical to your son’s or daughter’s future development. Skills and habits laid down now are likely to persist through life.  

“Adolescence is a new birth, for the higher and more completely human traits are now born” - G. Stanley Hall

So as a parent what are some of the things I can do to help my son but also help me to keep sane?!

Fundamentally there are four things to remember:

1.         Stay connected to your teen
2.         Keep the communication lines open
3.         Ensure your child knows they are loved
4.         And that they are appreciated and valued for who they are not what they do or achieve.

“I raised my three teens with love, perseverance, tenacity, sweat, tears, prayers, lighting candles, and the list could go on.” Ana Monnar

Here it is then, eventually (!), some tips to guide you and your teenager through adolescence:

·   Continue to parent your child as you have always done, but be a little bit more forgiving. Give them a break – don’t expect them to act like fully functioning adults...because they're not.''

·   Engage and guide with a light but steady hand, staying connected but allowing independence -  don't just walk away and think your teen is ready to make decisions without your input (even if they think they should!).  Be there for them. Remind your teens that while you're not running their lives anymore, you are ALWAYS available for advice and help, no matter what comes up.

·   Don’t make your teen feel worthless (they may develop self-esteem problems, and act up to the way you think they are) - respect their opinions, listen to their arguments, debate ideas with them but don’t try and put your beliefs on to them so they have to think like you. Help them to explore the questions, rather than give them answers

“We teach teens what we think they ought to know, and we never tell them what they want to know.” - Sue Johanson

·  Offer your wisdom—valued not because it comes from parental authority but because it comes from the parent's own struggles to learn how the world turns. Teens can appreciate that if parents once faced the same problems as them they you may remember a few things worth knowing.

“I laughed when my son asked me if I knew a particular Duran Duran song and was surprised when I did – doesn't he realise that the 80’s were my clubbing years!”

· Part of communicating with your teen may require the insight that they're not necessarily hearing what you say!

“I like talking to a brick wall- it's the only thing in the world that never contradicts me!” - Oscar Wilde

·   Understanding that your teen is on their way from  turning away from the family and toward the world of equals

·   Empathize and let your teen understand that impulses are hard to fight, but the end results could be disastrous. Teens tend to take time to ponder important decisions and weigh the options but they should be able look at both sides of an issue and consider the consequences.

·   Praise when good, treat when done something extra special and always say thank you for a chore completed whether you had to nag them or not! 

“I'm a teenager. I have a messy room. I spend most of my time online. I go to bed late and I'm crazy about one person.”

·   Knowing, understanding, and building your relationship with your teens and perceiving that social rejection is a threat to their existence especially in formulating the respect of their peers.

·   Give your teenager a measure of trust in his bid for independence.  But let them know that independence must be earned by responsible behaviour and give them a little more independence at a time, not overnight.

·   Let your teen make their own mistakes, but lovingly guide and support them and learn when you just have to let them go.

·   Invest some time in their interests even if you have no interest in it yourself!

·   Leave teen alone when they want to be left alone - space is needed but be there when they want you to be although you may need to make them aware of your own need to be alone and that this may not be at the same time as theirs.

“When on the way out of door to go out for the evening my son says “I don't want you to go out tonight I want talk to you”.  You had all weekend to do that!”

·  Develop a sense of humour! Enjoy your teens as they develop into adults

“Learned a new word to day from my teen today – ‘Derpy’!”

·   Limit your teen’s behaviour – help them learn by example for example how you treat your spouse, strangers, friends, deal with stress and time management.  Parents may need to first look at their own risk taking behaviours. Teenagers are do watch you and imitate your responses to life. For example things like drugs use, including smoking and alcohol,  and your teen may model you in this regard

“Angry because I came home late from a night out - who's   the parent?”

·  Give you teen opportunities to practice the skills that they need to accomplish their goals as adults, and so to become expert planners and/or practice basic skills like cooking and care giving.

·   Help your teen to manage sensory overload of being bombarded with information, and multitasking as routine as chatting with friends on online,  with practical strategies for making in-the-moment decisions

·   Talk to your teen in terms feelings, ie. “you look like you're feeling really down today or "I can see you're not really happy."

·   If your teenager spends an hour on the Internet instead of focusing on homework, it's because their brain doesn't register delayed gratification. Even though the teenager can vaguely register that there will be punishment later on, the appeal of fun now is too strong.

·    Help your teen get organized with calendars and planners. Teach them to write down deadlines, meetings, and dates and then post them in visible places. Help them understand that waiting until the very last minute to complete an important assignment is a sure bet for stress and disappointment.

·   Let them sleep in when there are no expectations to the day.

“Getting outta bed is one of the hardest challenges of the day for a teenager”.

·  Don’t make them feel that they are to blame for your failures. 

·   Recognise your teen’s drive for sex, power and respect within their peer group,  and try to explain the risks involved of what could happen if they don’t have impulse control  and educate them on the consequences of their actions.

“At sixteen, the adolescent knows about suffering because he himself has suffered, but he barely knows that other beings also suffer.”

·   Understand that the emotions of a teen reaches highs and lows – this is the time of Romeo and Juliet after all.  This is also the time that self-esteem issues can be a real danger that that this may not be obvious on the outside persona.  Be on the lookout for self-harming, or self-destructive behaviour

“I'm a teenager. I text at the speed of light, listen to my music too loud, roll my eyes, fall in love easily & get my heart broken.”

·  Knowledge of a subject for a questioning teenager is important – for example instead of saying don’t do drugs tell them that a teenager who smokes pot will still show cognitive deficits days later – so if they are doing an exam it could hinder them. An adult who smokes the same dose will return to cognitive baseline much faster than a teenager.

·   Encourage participation in youth programmes which provide challenging real-life experiences with a degree of protection and supervision

·   Make them aware that they can be anything they want to be as long as they are realistic about their own gift and skills and work at anything they do and not to start something and not finish it.

·  Take your teenager to work more often, if you can, giving them responsibility of helping and watching others at work.

·   Encourage your teen to go camping, travel, take on a summer job with real responsibility.  Create opportunities for your teen to meet more people – this can create a wider circle of friends, which can generally makes your teen healthier, happier, safer, and more successful.

“Too many adults wish to 'protect' teenagers when they should be stimulating them to read of life as it is lived.” -  Margaret A. Edwards

·  You could plan a sensation-seeking experience, trip to a theme parks, or even a skydive or a fast drive.  Note though that the love of the thrill usually peaks at around the age of 15 and a love of novelty takes over which can lead directly to useful experiences which aid their brain connections.

·   Engage your teen with social interactions, stimulating opportunities (which they may not appreciate until they are doing them) along with general sensation reward and you could light a fire for inspiration.

·   Teens can be enormously smart and knowledgeable but directionless, enthusiastic and exuberant but unable to commit to a particular kind of work. There is strong evidence that IQ has increased dramatically as more children spend more time in school, but there also evidence that higher IQ is correlated with delayed frontal lobe development so ensuring your teens have some responsibility, participation in social events, and using practical skills is just as important as study.

·  The teen years may be the time when potential poets start scribbling furiously in notebooks.  Before the brain is fully moulded this is a great time for them to say take up the guitar or learn a new language. Not that your teenager will listen if you tell them this. But just knowing that the teenage brain needs more time and experience to develop may help both you as the parent and your teen to survive adolescence.

“In scientific terms, teenagers can be a pain but they are quite possibly the most fully, crucially adaptive human beings around and without them humanity might not have so readily spread across the globe.”

Maybe as a single mother and my son being an only child, my expectations on him are higher, but fundamentally he and I have to be our own team –he has got to understand that there are certain responsibilities he has got to have and do – and there are certain responsibilities I have as a parent.  So he and I have come up with a plan together. 

There is a saying – “Drop it, pick it up.  Open it, close it.  Take something out, put it back.”   – My son is lousy at number 1 and I am not good at number 3!  There are definitely some tips above I am going to use, and there is some tips I can take away for myself as well especially on the organisation bit.

I bought my son a drill so he could take some responsibility for doing some of things that need fixing around the house – but three months on they still need doing but frankly this is a problem many women have without having a teenager around!  There are other things as well, giving him chores of sorting out the rubbish, changing the cat litter , feeding the cats in the morning before school, put away the dishes, keeping his own room tidy, cook a meal for both of us once a week, feed himself on the days I have activities during the week, do the important things first, i.e homework, instead of going straight on computer, pop across road to shop when and  if I need him too, clean the windows, clean up after himself i.e. after he has had a bath, and finally  take at least 5 minutes to organise himself before going to bed and to go to bed earlier so not so tired the next day.  The most amazing thing will be when he starts to wash-up the dishes!

It’s not just doing the chores that matter, it’s also an issue of showing more respect, sensitivity and kindness for both him and I and I would hate to pass on a son to another woman where he has grown up expecting her to do everything for him! 

Perhaps if I felt less stressed after walking through the door after work and seeing how much I need to do to keep us in a tidy and clean home, plus ensuring we are both fed well and healthy more quality time can be spent together and I can do more that is on the parenting tips above! 

My son has his dreams for the future and if I can steer him through his teens he may be able to make them come true.