Stepping Aside and Making Space

On April 23rd, 2005 my life swung into a completely new direction when I became a 24/7 single parent to Tegan, my teen-age daughter. Overnight I felt that I was facing a whole new set of challenges for influencing her in motivation, self-esteem and relationship management. Adding to the challenge, Tegan was adamant that she would not continue with any of the professional help she’d been receiving in these areas. A new approach was needed.

First I wanted to get clear with myself on the kind of help I could actually offer. The challenges my daughter faced were outside my own experience growing up. They were also well beyond any parenting skills I’d picked up or seen demonstrated. Solutions offered by family, friends and professionals gave little to work with either. Recognizing I was out of my depth, I decided to step back from trying to be an expert in my daughter’s life. I would become a facilitator for her to achieve her own objectives.

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As it turned out, Tegan already had lots of ideas for where she wanted to start. Always an avid reader, she suggested we look together for books on handling challenging emotions. After beginning with Daniel Goleman’s classic Emotional Intelligence*, we read an eclectic range of books, both nonfiction and fiction, touching on subjects from self-awareness and happiness to the development of behaviours and beliefs. Through learning about, discussing and practicing new approaches in these areas, Tegan shifted her old ways of enduring and evading unwelcome challenges to a new process: stepping back, reframing, identifying positive goals and moving forward. With this approach she was able to open new options and opportunities in several areas, including gaining renewed confidence in her career aspiration to be an artist, and in achieving academic goals that had once seemed impossible to her.

Today Tegan works as an independent illustrator for private clients and video game production. A highly challenging career, it requires a deeply instilled capacity for self-motivation, a grounded and appreciative self-esteem, and powerful skills in building and maintaining relationships with others – abilities she identified and realized according to her own needs and priorities. I’m deeply indebted to Tegan for the unique opportunity she gave me, both as a parent and as a coach, to experience the power of stepping back and making a safe, supportive space for her to follow her way. It’s an experience that’s enriched both of our lives fundamentally.”
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* A verrrrrry big thank-you to my friend Edna Downey for suggesting this book to us :).