girl-cellphoneINDULGE ME FOR just a few moments in an exercise. Find a time when your teenager is occupied in a more public area of your home, somewhere other than her bedroom. She may be reading, talking on the phone, playing a game or listening to music. For the purposes of this exercise, as long as she is occupied, it really doesn’t matter.

Now, find a comfortable seat in another room. First, I would ask you to gently remove from your mind, just for these moments, any feelings of anger, ill will, disappointment or resentment you harbor toward her.

Take a few moments alone to close your eyes and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. For the next several minutes, assume that all is right with the world. You needn’t worry about a thing. You can cast all of your concerns, just for now, totally aside. As you inhale, allow your lungs to fill with a sense of well-being and contentment. As you exhale, envision your negative thoughts leaving you.

Once you feel calm, open your eyes. Stand up, go into the room where your child is occupied, and take a seat. Continue your deep breathing.

Just watch her discreetly for a few moments as you attend to your breathing. Sit quietly, watch and listen. With no demand on yourself, take note in your mind of what you see in her, what you hear from her. Look at the shine of her hair. Allow yourself to marvel at the perfection of her hands. Listen to her voice and her laughter, her very breathing.

Watch her smile. Does she ponder her world? In what ways does she look like you? Now, look at your child’s beautiful eyes. How long has it been since you have seen them in this way? Breathe in the miracle that is your teenager.

When you feel ready, go back to the room where you began this exercise, relaxing and breathing. Have a seat, and take a few more cleansing breaths. Now, think about your teenager. How are you feeling about her now?

In this exercise, I am encouraging you to see your teenager with the same sense of awe and wonder that you had when you first laid eyes on her, when she was a newborn baby. If you participated fully in this exercise, I’ll bet it felt pretty good. If you conduct this exercise from time to time, you may find you get into the habit of appreciation and gratitude for the presence of your teenager in your life.

She makes things interesting, doesn’t she? She is a force. She can be upsetting and frustrating, yes. This, in fact, is part of her job. At her core, though, underneath it all, she is wonderful and amazing — a miracle, really.

And you, as a parent, are really so fortunate. You have the opportunity to parent this wonderful, challenging person, to affect the future of her life, your life, your family, and perhaps everyone. A large responsibility, yes, but none could equal the rewards.

Dr. John Duffy, author of The Available Parent: Radical Optimism for Raising Teens and Tweens, is a highly sought-after clinical psychologist, certified life coach, parenting expert and proud parent. He has been working with teens, tweens and their families for more than fifteen years. He has provided the critical intervention and support needed to help hundreds of families find their footing. He has served as a contributing parent expert for a number of media outlets and has served as a parenting and relationship expert on a number of radio programs.

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