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Here is a portrait that I painted inspired by my daughter Natalie. She’s turning 12 this year. What an important age! It was around that age that I experienced the things that impacted me the most in my childhood. Some were very negative and some very positive. This is the age where you start building your character and opinions about everything. I’m loving seeing Natalie grow up and get closer to being a teenager.

Natalie's portrait small

One of the first things that I did when Natalie was born was to read ‘Staying Connected to your Teenager‘ by Michael Riera. It’s never too early (or too late) to learn the ABC of how to have a strong relationship with your teenager. I decided back then that I was going to make of that complicated phase a positive one, and I stick to that idea today.

Natalie's portrait 3 small

The bottom line of what the book that I mentioned above taught me applies to any phase of life. No matter what age we are, the things that we need are basically the same: understanding, support, and love.

Natalie's portrait 4 small

Those three elements can be expressed in a million ways. But here are my 3 main concrete ways:

1.Understanding:

Listen carefully, even when she/he is not saying anything. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

2. Support

Say words such as “I’m sorry”, “I understand”, “I’m here to help”. But also do help in concrete ways to show that you care.

3. Love

Lots of hugs, kisses and saying I love you.

And an extra bonus: Stop lecturing.

Natalie's portrait 5 small

But do you know what I have discovered that works best of all? Humor! Find the humor in everything and make the other person (and yourself) laugh. It’s never a good idea to take things too seriously.

I now leave you with a joke created by Diego the other night. Here is what he said:

Hey Mom. Guess what you call a breakfast walking on a tightrope?

-A balanced breakfast.

Have a great day!

Elsita

PS. ↓

Here Natalie looks very serious, but the truth is that we were laughing like crazy during the process of taking this picture. This is the photo that inspired the portrait above. But I think that you have already made that connection. 🙂

natalie color smaller

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