Change is never easy. Even when you're dropping a bad or unhealthy habit in order to achieve the lifestyle you've been seeking, the transition will be rocky. If change were easy, after all, then quitting smoking wouldn't be a multi-million dollar industry!

If you've decided to drop some of the outdated, ineffective parenting techniques that you've been relying on in order to better parent your teen or preteen, then congratulations! More effective parenting leads to teenagers who grow into more successful adults, creating calmer, more loving households and significantly happier parents in the meantime. But, just like with any change, you should expect some bumps in the road. Knowing what those bumps are and what progression your transition is likely to take will make it easier for you to take the usual trouble spots in stride, and will help you focus on the end result instead of getting lost somewhere in the middle.

PARALYSIS: When you first make that momentous decision that change is necessary, it's completely normal to feel numb at first. After all, you've just made a decision that's going to lead to a sort of upheaval of your inner self, and that's a daunting proposition. It might feel as if you're standing with a kitchen-sized trash bag in front of a room that would better be cleaned with a dumpster. Take a deep breath, and acknowledge that change is scary, but that you can do it. Remember why you're here and what your goals are, and know that you're headed toward a parenting style that lets you enjoy your teenagers and spend more time laughing with them and less time yelling at them.

NEGATIVE SELF-TALK: Once the paralysis wears off, then the denial and the negative self-talk often begin. Remember the classic cartoons? When a character was about to make a big decision, an angel would sit on one shoulder and a devil on the other. That's similar to what this stage feels like—only the devil is a whole lot louder than the angel. The good news is that the devil on your shoulder is predictable, and will repeat the same messages over and over again. Listen to his messages long enough to figure out how to respond to each denial he offers. Then, whenever he pipes up, the angel within you can respond appropriately. For instance, if your negative, inner self repeatedly tells you that things are just fine the way they are, answer back saying that you want your family to be spectacular, not merely fine.

FEAR AND EXCITEMENT: Soon enough, you'll get to the point where you've accepted the intended change and you've learned how to respond when negative self-talk rears its ugly head. By this point, you've cleared the path and you are truly ready to embark on the journey toward a better parenting style and a happier parent. You're still not sure exactly how to get there, though, and you probably feel afraid, excited, or both. Know that fear and excitement are on opposite sides of a coin. You can flip to excitement by focusing on your enthusiasm instead of your fear.

This is the stage where you figure out exactly which steps to take on your path to better parenting. In order to get through this stage successfully, take a few minutes each day to remember exactly what your goals are. As you take each small step, whether it be really listening to your teenaged daughter complain about her curfew or working to maintain a coaching presence when your son gets caught cheating on a math test, stop to envision the parent that you want to be. Then remember that, with each challenge, you're getting closer to your goal.

SELF-ACTUALIZATION: As you get closer and closer to your goal of being a full-time parent coach, you'll grow in confidence and will feel like the change is, after all, possible. Like a runner on mile 24 of her first marathon, you'll realize that you do have the power to achieve your goals. This feeling is your reward for the hard work you've done so far--you feel alive, strong, and successful. Enjoy the feeling that you can reach your goals, and that you have an incredible wealth of inner strength. Soak in your own power, and relish the rewards you're already realizing. By now, you're spending more time feeling lighter, freer, and happier as a parent. You're almost there!

SUCCESS: Congratulations! You've made it. You moved though the paralysis, the doubts, and the fear, then enjoyed the excitement and power that you may not have known you possessed. You are now a full-time parent coach, with the experience and skills necessary to guide your teenager toward adulthood. You've reached your goals of parenting successfully, raising your own satisfaction levels, and helping your teen to realize his or her full potential, and it's a lot easier to stay the course than it is to steer toward it. Will you still have to work at parenting? Of course. But it won't overwhelm you. When you realize that you're at that point when you're fluent in parent coaching--when the first strategies that come to your mind are coaching strategies--take yourself out to dinner. You deserve it.

© 2006 Barbara McRae

Author's Bio: 

Barbara McRae, Master Certified Coach, Parent/Teen Expert, and Founder of, "A Neon Whispers ™ Company", is the bestselling author of Coach Your Teen to Success [] Barbara coaches internationally, facilitates workshops, and has been featured in various media outlets, including radio, TV, national magazines, and newspapers.