The Four Agreements by don Miguel Ruiz is a fabulous book. I was in a different place in 2013 when I first let these wise words soak into my soul and psyche. Even now, in a different context I'm coming back to them. I now see this book as a letter to the mothers of teenage daughters, a clique I recently joined!
The Four Agreements has gems of wisdom that we should always live by. What we know and what we do are often two very different things. The busy-ness of our daily lives, emotions and patterns of behavior all chime in. And so this book and its Agreements are what we need to come back to, especially if you are like me, facing the challenging years of mothering teenage girls.
I hope when you read my musings that you understand the humor and light-heartedness. I truly do feel blessed and honored that my daughters chose me as their mother. I cherish the growth and gifts that motherhood has brought me.
Mothers of Teenage Girls (MoTG), I hope you enjoy!!
1. Be Impeccable with Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love. - don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
MoTG: Be TOTALLY impeccable with your words, say exactly what you mean. Don't speak too slowly, don't use unnecessary words as this is an offense to busy teenagers! Beware that praise will not be heard. Any messages of correction or re-direction will be the topic of a discussion on 'unfairness' for hours or days to come. It is advisable for you to keep records of all conversations so you have evidence of your Word! Teenage girls would make great litigators so... be impeccable with your Word.
Don't gossip, your teenager will do enough for both of you. What was once your happy-go-lucky child has now turned into the fashion-police and every other type of police needed!
2. Don’t Take Anything Personally: Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering. - don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
MoTG: Really, do not take ANYTHING personally. If you do, you are in for the long haul! It's going to be a long 5 or so years. Be immune by pretending you did not hear half of the retorts. If you need to, breathe deeply and visualize yourself with your fingers stuck in your ears going "la-la-la-la-la, I can't HEAR you," in a sing-song voice. It will work. Top athletes and leaders understand the power of visualization. MoTGs need to frequently do this one to maintain some essence of themselves.
But when you get the occasional hug or thanks - drown yourself in these moments! Take these 100% personally!
3. Don’t Make Assumptions: Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life. - don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
MoTG: Assumptions are out the window Moms. The tidiest little kids will turn their bedrooms into a quagmire. Don't assume that any tidying is being done and there will be no sadness or drama when you see, many hours later, that the quagmire is still as it was, if not more quag-ed. Of course, don't assume that you will get to peek into the room.
Be prepared to ask for anything to be done (dishes in the dishwasher please) on repeat. Communicating clearly may mean adding a timeframe for this to be done (e.g. before bed-time today), to avoid misunderstandings.
It's not that they don't want to, dishes and household chores are really not important in the life of a TG.
4. Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret. - don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements
MoTG: Just do your best! Thanks will be rare, so just do what you can. You'll get enough judgement ("Do many women of 45 get spots?" when you're sporting a mild blemish) and be left sitting there wondering where your cuddly little three year-old girl went.
But mothers, remember that you are doing a fabulous job! Be gentle with yourself when the door slamming, storming TG is in the house.
Be ready for the glimpses of your little miss innocent returning (30 minutes into the first disco when you get the phone call of "Mom, I don't like it. It's too loud. Can you get me?" Or when her little hamster is on its last legs and she needs massive cuddles).
Remember that the purpose of the teenage years is for your darling daughter to break away from you and everything she knew, so that she can grow into her own true self and come back and meet you as an adult woman.
In these testing teenage years, she is finding herself.
The more storming and redefining, the better.
She's growing up, embrace it. You will have a better relationship in the long run because of it.
She's not testing you, she's trying out 'her'.
And of course we all know, Patience is the 5th Agreement for any MoTG. In bucketfuls please!
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