“I am exhausted by my teenage children. They have an in bred sense of entitlement and they treat my husband and I as if we are merely ATM machines to be used and abused. I feel as if I don’t know them anymore. Of course I love them but I can’t say that I like them. This situation is really getting me down. What shall I do?”
Dear “ATM Mummy”,
You didn’t mention how old your children are? My guess, since they are really proficient at using and abusing the parental ATM, is that they are between 14 and 2. An individual’s development, self-identity and maturity unfold as of birth over several cycles, each of which is about seven years long.
1- To help you determine a new approach, reflect on their cycle of evolution. From birth to seven years old, the parents are pretty much spoon-feeding their dependent off springs’ everything, including their own patterns. Seven to fourteen years, the child is undergoing individuation – where they are beginning to carve out an identity separate to their parents. 14 to old is where they think they are independent (although still influenced by peer pressure), fully formed and know what they are doing. ‘I shop therefore I am’ becomes the modus operandi. However, chemically, their brain is not fully developed, so you are still dealing with their “hormonal” irrational-selves as well as bundles of energy- guaranteed to wear you and your husband out. In other words, recognise that the way they act is not who they really are.
2- Now, reflect upon a time when you first allowed your children to use you as an ATM. They can only push your buttons, if you have buttons to be pushed in the first place. Did you give in easily to their nagging just to keep them off your back, for example? Twice, and the pattern would have been set in concrete! Sometimes though, you’ll find the inspiration you need where you least expect it. I read once a simple, yet potent truth, graffiti on the back of a loo door that said “if you do what you always did, you will always get what you always got” So, as of now, change what you normally do, to start easing this vicious cycle. Here’s what I suggest.
3- I almost always explain to my clients that money energy, love energy and creative (self-expression) energy are one and the same; and that they act as three parallel conduits to channelling and expressing the vital energy with which we are born. If you ignore developing one aspect, this torrential energy will express itself primarily through one conduit and end up blocking it! So their money issue is really a symptom of not developing their creative expression, such as; exploring their talents, hobbies and other life interests that can help them find their true life purpose. So, help them to crystallise who they are and achieve a sense of true fulfilment in doing so- one which is not constructed through acquiring “stuff”, by engaging in voluntary work, or themed adventure camp. Physically and emotionally, they would be letting off some steam!
Ready, Steady, Go!
Develop a Holistic approach
ATM Mummy’s goals:
- To understand that the manner in which her children act is not an expression of whom they really are. Rather, that it’s a symptom of not being able to tap into who they truly are.
- To explore her own patterns, how is she developing her own three expression conduits? In the main, children will acquire patterns closer at home, from parents, rather form farther afield.
- To help children evolve a genuine self-identity by exploring their creative abilities and channelling their energy into meaningful and fulfilling activities.
The action Plan
- For “ATM Mummy” to stop doing what she normally does, when dealing with her children when it comes to money.
- To help them distinguish between “I need this” and “I want this”; the first is part of mindful self-development plan, such as buying a new lap top; the second can often times be mindless consumerism which is endless!
- To plan charity, adventure, or voluntary activities for her children where can participate and experience a different world; and where they can have a meaningful input in the life of others. Hopefully, they will draw a deeper sense of self-satisfaction from such activities.
The Idea : To help her children divert their spending energy into finding their true sense of self-worth through experiencing educational challenges other than consumerism.
The answer: To check out organisation such as AdventureHQ.ae, who partner with a variety of organisations such as Camps International, Gulf for Good, World Challenge, Guanabana and EcoVenture.
The Doubt: “Money Mummy” could not see how she helped her children develop the image they have of her as an ATM. She also could not distinguish between who they are and how they act; the two are not the same as children will act differently as their development cycle changes. She felt she did not like them as a result of their actions. At the same time, she and her husband did not really see their children consumerism as a distorted expression of who they are. Young people have tremendous energy that requires thoughtful guidance as to how to channel it. Living in a hot climate can make air-conditioned malls seem a tantalising and convenient escape route; forgetting about spending time outdoors, or other activities where children can engage in meaningful and often life-changing experiences.