What is Radical Acceptance?

It’s hard to believe that 2020 is coming to an end – who isn’t excited to turn a new page and become invigorated with hope again? I am personally really looking forward to 2021 and have a few dreams ready to take off. In my household, my last child (of 4) is going to be graduating early at the end of January – and hopefully off to college in August. For the first time in 32 years, I won’t have an offspring of mine in the house, and any tears of mine will be tears of joy. Seriously. I am ready to eat a cookie for dinner just because I can if I want and not have to cook for anyone!

Let’s go back to a word I used in the first paragraph – “hopefully”.

The reason for my word “hopefully” is because I’ve had to train myself to let go of expectations, especially when it comes to my children (and the teenage years!). I can be hopeful but not attached to expectations and outcomes.

Radical Acceptance

Along these lines, I’ve been reading about this concept of “Radical Acceptance” as it relates to both the state of our world – and raising teenagers. Radical acceptance means completely and totally accepting reality with our mind, body and spirit. Radical acceptance means that one cannot currently change the present facts – even if we dislike them. The opposite of Radical Acceptance is resistance, which is painful, emotional and creates divides in relationships.

For example, it drives me crazy to see that my teen can stay inside for 3 to 4 days at a time. For me, I must have fresh air daily along with a brisk walk and then move my body throughout the day. How can he stay in the house? Doesn’t he realize how important it is to get his body moving and get fresh air?

No amount of bribing, nagging, insisting, pleading or arguing with him (even with facts) will change what he wants to do. 

What I can do however, is change what is in my control, and how I respond and try to control the situation. Instead, I am employing a radical acceptance of him at this stage in his life. Maybe he is terribly fearful of the virus, maybe going out on a walk with his mom (who he is with 24/7 and walking with her is the last thing he wants to do) and maybe connecting with his pals while gaming is keeping him sane?

One wise sage said something to me simple but it really stuck – everyone is on their own journey. As parents it is normal to want our children to be on a reasonably decent journey – but the reality is that once our babies have grown to teens, it’s their journey.

So here is what I am working on in cadence with Radical Acceptance:

  • I will continue to model my own healthy behaviors as I know he is watching and observing.
  • I will release my expectations about what I thought he would/could/should be. These are coming from a deep-seated (and misguided) belief that my child is a reflection of my parenting, hence me personally.
  • I will embrace him fully as a human, quirks and all, and remind him how much he is loved, warts and all, as they say.
  • I will be open to the notion that I can learn from my own children, the way they see the world, the challenges they are experiencing and their zig-zag route through life that I probably missed being the Type A, Straight A, driven to a fault child I was.

Radical Acceptance doesn’t mean letting go of household guidelines and consequences for failing them. It does mean fully loving your child, nodding your head often (while you say to yourself “well, that’s interesting) and reminding yourself “that is just where he is right now – it doesn’t mean he will be there forever.”

Our Success Coaches

Our Success Coaches are truly brilliant at meeting your teens where they are, learning what brings them joy, where they have challenges and applying Radical Acceptance to build trust and confidence to walk them through their educational and life journey.

We thank you so much for allowing us to connect and grow with your teens. It is a gift every day to get to know them – they are amazing, wonderful humans.

Beautiful Minds Coaching for Teens, a service of Academics For Life, LLC, connects, engages and inspires students who have become disengaged from learning and are falling behind in education and life. We inspire students to find their purpose, set goals and achieve milestones - by using education as the springboard to their dreams!

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