It is a heavier topic today: Teens (or any age) exploring behaviors that bring up fear in us and how to respond. This is a big issue and there are no 'Right' answers as so much depends on the child, the why, the what, the how often, the with who, and the who you are; who your partner is.
This is my response after practicing NVC for 14 years, getting support and reading Dan Siegel's Mindsight about teen brains. NVC is a life serving resource as I've experienced needs/values drive all my behavior. (Non Violent Communication/NVC/Compassionate Communication founded by Marshall Rosenberg). It is the basis for all my work that has grown into Become the CEO of Your Reactions.
Whenever I am feeling hard emotions (afraid, anxious, angry, ashamed) I now know they are trying to give me a message about my needs/values. In this case, I was feeling scared and uncertain about how to talk to my daughter about trying pot. I was yearning for safety, ease, reassurance and connection. My thoughts were awful, catastrophic about how she would ruin her life, how it meant she was in trouble, that she was on the wrong path, that I was a bad parent, that life was out of control etc. I was completely spun out in my own horror fiction of reaction. It became about me as I had no space during the reaction to support her. And when I spoke from this place it made everything worse.
I wasn't able to wonder what was going on for her, if she was feeling afraid of being left out if she didn't experiment, or if she was maybe wanting to numb pain of something that happened socially or with grades? Or maybe she was just curious. It sure triggered a lot in me.
The hardest part was all my conditioning and 'should's' from my own upbringing. I was instantly judging her instead of coming from a centered place of compassion and curiosity.
I had to be with and heal my own pain around this issue, feeling out of control, afraid, ashamed of what others would think of me/of her, conditioned that this was a huge problem and judge her. Once worked with my upset I got re-centered and back to my inner abundance. Instead of coming from fear, I was able to accept her, her is-ness, her wholeness. To see her as a hurt puppy, not as an enemy image that was a problem I needed to fix. We were then able to have connective conversations that got to the root of what was going. Previously I was in blame, punishment, judgement that had left her feeling unseen and misunderstood and further alienated and alone.
What helped me the most was to express my fears with an empathy or 'safe listening' partner, to be real with what my experience was, my 'is-ness', my fear, my messy-ness, all the should's. Feel it all, cry it out, mourn that life isn't what I want it to be right now. I have also done this in a journal.
Only then could I move through it and be present for my daughter. And when I'd get re-triggered, because I would, I'd take a break and go back to step one: self care, work with my defense/resistance/fear of my emotions, then begrudgingly feel my emotions, be with own my reaction/thoughts, recenter by re-remembering my abundance, my wholeness, my worthiness.
I learned SOOOO much about mySelf and grew a ton.
My biggest two learnings:
1) That my fear of fear is worse than whatever I am fearing, whatever is happening. So work with my story/thoughts. Work with my resistance to feel my hard emotions.
2) What I needed to hear often as I felt my fear and uncertainty: You aren't alone and it won't last forever.