How to Talk to Teens About Spirituality?
The Answer surprised me.
Miracles are flying around me this weekend. I am on vacation for a week with my kids and their friends, five boys from 10-14 years old. I had decided it would be like a spiritual retreat for me. My friends kept saying, ‘Shouldn't you bring friends so you aren't alone.’ But, I felt immediately, ‘Oh geez, no. It would pull me back into people-pleasing and being a hostess.’ In the end, one friend did come for just the first weekend as her son is one of the kids staying the week. How the weekend unfolded was a huge miracle healing.
It started with her telling me about the “crazy things” her teenage son, Erik, has been saying lately.
I have heard this all before when he was a baby and a toddler. We have raised our kids together and shared so much through our motherhood. She was always worried about him because there seemed to be something different about him. I could see it too but, I had some teachings under my belt that were telling me, ‘No he does not have ADHD or bipolar or dyslexia, he has a gift!’ She took him to multiple doctors who did not have a diagnosis for him except for dyslexia. The behavior that scared her was that he talked to God and people we could not see. Of course, I could understand what she was so scared about. The mother role is very deep and we tend to go to the “worse case scenarios” in any situation we can’t understand.
So, here we are years later, her son is thirteen years old and we are having our first coffee together at the vacation house, and in tears, she says, “Erik is talking about crazy things and I am scared. He is saying the world is shit, it is all ego and he wants nothing to do with it. He is saying we are all one, that I don’t exist and that he doesn’t exist. He is saying that I don’t love him, he doesn’t love me and we have no idea what love is. He says he wants to transcend the world. Jeanne, I had to look up the word because I didn’t understand what he meant by transcend.”
She went on to say how she is scared he is going to kill himself because he wants out of the world.
We talked for a long time until she calmed down. We went about our day taking care of the kids, feeding them, etc. and I had in mind, ‘She needs to watch the movie workshop with David Hoffmeister today.’ I mentioned it a few times and she was not interested so I did not push; I waited. I felt more and more that she was to watch it but, I felt calm that it wasn’t my job to get her to watch it. She booked a Zoom appointment instead of the movie workshop since she figured since I would be busy watching the movie so she could use the time for an appointment. I just waited.
Finally, she said, “Oh, the appointment is canceled.” I responded, “Well the movie is about to start. Let's just watch the free intro together.” I plopped the computer in front of us and we started watching.
She started flipping out, “What? Who is this? What is going on?”
David was talking about the usual Course stuff. She started talking really fast, “Jeanne, this is exactly everything Erik has been saying to me; word for word. He even uses the same exact words! I don’t understand! What is going on? So wait, we are going to watch a movie? What is the movie? You mean it’s a regular Hollywood movie? Who is this David? He is beaming! He is so humble!”
Here you can listen to this movie workshop session with David Hoffmeister:
To join the next movie workshop, go here.
When she calmed down and listened again, I quickly got my phone and signed up for the movie workshop so she could watch the whole movie. It was never about me. I just felt I was to be there for her, I didn’t need to watch the movie, I didn’t need to say much, just listen and reassure her from time to time.
But, it was for me too. I needed practice in stepping back and feeling the difference between words that were coming from my ego desire “to be the one to help her and to help Erik” and being present for her with calm & guided words.
After the movie, I could feel she was overwhelmed. I didn’t push her to join the breakout rooms or the talk later. I could almost FEEL her crawling back into the world/ego. It made sense. It was all a bit scary and she needed to know she could return to the old way anytime. For me, I needed to sit back and watch the miracle. I had lately been rather “blah” and not very devoted, peaceful or joyous - just sort of absent. Watching the miracles unfold “for her” and her teenage son was building my trust. Being of service in this way was bringing me back to purpose. Spiritual purpose instead of in form.
The next day, we went about our mom business, shopping and cooking for all these boys. To be completely honest, we were kind of getting on each other’s nerves. Great! I had a little mind training practice to do. She was chaotic, chatty, and all over the place and I have been in my cocoon for a year seeing practically nobody but my kids with confinement. Part of the miracle was to remind both of us of our spiritual journey as parents and not just the daily tasks.
This whirlwind of people around me was unsettling. She was making a mess everywhere she touched. She left the refrigerator door open every time, and left all drawers and cabinets open. She was talking, talking, talking and I was getting annoyed. But, she was annoyed with me too, “Jeanne, you are so paranoid about the kids in the pool! Isn’t that ego?!” She was taunting me, challenging me and my precious beliefs. I got defensive. I was snapping at her. But, when I realized this, I fessed up, “Yes, I am way too fearful about the kids. I am really anxious about being “responsible” for all these kids this week and the pool is so scary to me.” I said, “I am just like you, I am scared and ego! I am not here to teach you. We are here for each other." A perfect holy relationship. She was reflecting my fear and I thanked her for it. I could see it and let go (well a bit.)
I had a feeling now that I did not want my friend to start seeing me as her teacher and having all the answers. I would often answer her questions with, “I don’t know." I wanted her to know we are equal. I wanted a holy relationship with her. She will find answers herself and connect with her inner teacher. The movie workshops and David Hoffmeister were here to point us in the right direction, inspire and motivate us. It felt beautiful to finally be able to share with her more openly.
That night, instead of watching a movie with the other kids, her son was off with his mom in her room. She would be leaving the next day and this was their last chance to talk before she leaves. I went to bed.
In the morning, when I brought her a coffee in bed. She burst into tears. “Jeanne I barely slept all night. You won’t believe everything Erik said to me last night. We talked for hours.”
She told me everything he said. It was more straight from A Course in Miracles and other non-dual teachings.
He continually said, “Mum, this is not real.” Pointing to his leg and his arm. “This is nothing!”
She would get upset and say things like, “But, you are real. I see you. I WANT you to be real. I don’t want to lose you!”
And he said things like, “I just want to go off to the North Pole, live in the wild, see nobody and be at Peace. There is too much going on here.”
She said, “We can do that. We can leave. I will go with you.”
He responded, “What? Sell your apartment? Then go buy another one somewhere else? There is no point. You will just create it all again. I want to go on my own.”
Her response, “No, I want to be with you! Don’t you want to be with me?“ She was really asking for it!
“No, I want to be alone.”
“Wouldn’t you miss me?“
“No Mum. There is no ‘you.’ We are one! You think I am Erik. But, I am not the same Erik I was five seconds ago. It’s already over!”
This 13-year-old knows more than I did at 40.
Part of my thinking was very excited at the idea of a teenager knowing so much naturally and so young.
Perhaps the next generation will not have to suffer as much. Often those on a spiritual path arrive through difficult experiences, suffering that pushed them to the point of surrender and for many it was through difficult family situations. Again, this was for me, I was being reminded I can choose a happy peaceful lesson. Up until now I had seemed to “advance” the most through very difficult “on my knees moments.” My mind is now opening to the possibility of learning through love and joy.
When I look at teen Erik, I remember when he was a baby, the period when his parents were divorcing at the same time that I was divorcing the father of my children. At that time, my friend and I would talk about how damaging this was for the children. We saw them as suffering because we were suffering. Today my friend for the first time said, “I am so glad that happened. It was all for the best.” She could see that everything was for our own best interest. Previously when I would say things like that about divorce or being a single mom, she would get a bit angry and “remind” me how horrible it all was. It felt like finally forgiving her was actually reflecting the last remnants of “the divorce story” that I had hung onto. Maybe she won’t be telling me anymore that my ex is taking advantage of me, or I should say or do this or that to get what is due to me. I almost see her as a reflection of any remaining guilt fear and anger about my divorce and now this reflection was cleared away. This miracle, through her son, was healing for both of us. Our dialogue together henceforth will no longer be ‘poor us; single moms struggling.’
Together my friend and I are seeing miracles.
We are learning from each other and her son. Our relationship, in one weekend, has become based on holiness instead of our shared motherhood experiences. She says this experience convinces her that what David and Erik are saying is true because she knows her son did not hear it, read it or learn it from anywhere around him.
The Holy Spirit knows just how to convince each of us in the way that will speak to us but, may not have the same impact on another.
This was her proof like a ‘turning water to wine moment.’ It was the proof she needed. When she first started talking about all of this, my first thoughts were, ‘Oh, I am meant to help Erik.’ Now, I don’t know.
Days later, listening to the movie workshop on Youtube, the message became even more clear. IT IS NOT FOR ME TO WAKE UP MY BROTHER. I was waiting all week to see if I should speak to Erik. It never came. I prayed that if I was to say something make it clear. I thought about the times in the past when I was clearly guided. In those cases, I never made a choice, I never decided to do or say something it seemed to happen on its own. My only role was to not interfere. So, now I trusted that if it was helpful I would say what I was to say. The moment would present itself.
The ego, the mom in me, wanted to protect Erik. Wanted to control his awakening. Make sure he is safe. Make sure he doesn’t get caught up in a cult, make sure he doesn’t kill himself and to make him happy. My first thought when my friend started sharing was, I need to talk to him, set him straight. He needs to know that death does not end the ego, it solves nothing. I wanted to teach him through words. But as the weekend rolled on, I started to see differently. Maybe the most helpful for him is that his mom is now better understanding him and not fearful of his talk, releasing both of them from the fear and guilt when he speaks to her. When she told me that he said and asked, "There is no point to any of this. What is my purpose?" He was kind of saying, "If you are so smart , then what is my purpose?” She told me her response was, “Your job is to wake up other people.” At the moment I wanted to run to tell him, "No, no, that’s not quite right." This brought to my mind the message from the Course, “You can not wake your brother up.” THIS WAS JUST FOR ME.
So after this experience, my lesson is to keep bringing it back to my own mind. Anyone wanting to help their teen with the spiritual path, I would say, don’t think of yourself as a teacher and that you know more than them. Bring it back to yourself. The lesson is always for you. It is not about words.
Don’t try to come up with the right words to say. Our best help is to be an example.
To keep our focus on our own forgiveness, our own path. Which ultimately leads us to guidance and this guidance will ensure we are most helpful to those around us; teenagers or babies, 50 year olds or 5 year olds.
The movie, Knowing, my friend and I watched with David was perfect for my situation to show me to let go of the mom role. After all, I was even trying to mom a child who is not “my son.” The movie showed everything is happening perfectly. I can sit back and trust. The Christ Mind is responsible for this boy and can do a far better job than my little ego self.
A week later also the following movie came in to really bring it home to me. We are not to be healers! The Holy Spirit is to do the healing! Click here to watch this clip from the movie, The Sunchaser:
"When you are with someone and you say or do something and they look at you and they go F*** you that's not the Holy Spirit, you have not inspired joy!"