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See how far you’ve come!

by Mary Mazzoni on December 28, 2012

Your teen has come a long way this year.

So have you.

It’s time to pause and reflect.

We’ll soon welcome the new year, and plan for new goals. But now it’s time to rest a bit and enjoy the view.

Sir Martin Conway, mountaineer and cartographer of the early 20th century once said:

“Each fresh peak attained teaches something.”

What has this year taught you – and your teen?

Truth told slant

Emily Dickinson reminds us:

“Tell all the truth, but tell it slant. Success in circuit lies.

Too bright for our infirm delight, the truth’s superb surprise..

The truth must dazzle gradually, or every man be blind.”

It can be hard to answer direct questions about ourselves. If we pepper our teens with questions, they may resist – feeling interrogated and defensive.

Some teens really enjoy a more creative approach to self reflection – such as collages or art journals. These can be fun and illuminating for people of all ages.

Photos, clippings, words, colors, memorabilia – anything really – can be used to create pages around a theme.

Some samples might be:

  • My New Superpowers (Skills I Learned this Year)
  • My Faves (Places, Pass-Times, etc.)
  • What Matters Most?
  • Now I Know….
  • A Perfect Day…
  • So Grateful for…
  • Ways I Calm Myself
  • Ways I Energize Myself
  • Courage is…
  • Kindness is..

You and your teen can come up with your own ideas!

Consider creating your own collages right alongside your teen. Truly meaningful conversations may bubble up.

Keep the collages in a special notebook – and consider adding pages throughout the year to more deeply savor and understand experiences on the journey.

As time goes by – the notebook can offer your teen real insights about herself and help her to set goals for the future.

Truth told plain

A more direct approach might be to write a letter to your teen, or make an audio or video recording for him.

Specifically name skills you’ve seen him learn and character traits you’ve seen him demonstrate during the past year. Let him know you’re proud of him for being who he is. Assure him that you’re interested in learning more about his interests and goals and that you want to encourage him as he plans for his own future.

Letters or recordings like this have profound impact. They may prompt insightful conversations with your teen – or your teen may have no apparent reaction to them. Still – when a parent “goes on record” like this – it gives teens a sense that they are making progress, that their goals matter, and that their parents are on their side.

New Year’s Day, your child’s birthday, and other special occasions are perfect opportunities to write or record a message to your child.

He’ll cherish each one.

Celebrate and savor the view

Like climbers reaching a mountain peak, you and your teen can pause to survey the path you’ve traveled this year.

There have been arduous challenges, hard-won victories, and sweet moments of grace along the way. How good it is to celebrate – to pause and notice and savor the moments of this year – together.

How will you and your teen celebrate 2012?

As the new year begins

Here’s a simple new tradition to consider. I discovered it at Suzie’s Daily Quotes on Facebook – and I’m going to give it a try myself.

Begin the new year with an empty mason jar or other simple container. As you and your child journey through the days, when he has learned a new skill, gained an insight, or really enjoyed an experience – he can document it on a little slip of paper.

The jar will begin to fill – little by little. And when your teen hits a rough patch – she can encourage herself by reaching into the jar and remembering the progress she’s already made.

Then – when 2013 draws to an end – there will be a whole jar of memories to celebrate!

Share your story

As you reflect on 2012:

  • what moments bring you joy?
  • how will you celebrate how far your child has come?

We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Thanks for being part of the Life After IEPs community.

May your celebration of 2012 – and each moment of the year ahead – overflow with blessings for you and your child!

Enjoy the journey – one moment at a time!

Photo credit: DeaPeaJay at Flickr and

A Beautiful Mess and Suzie’s Daily Quotes on Facebook

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