Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Dueling Hormones

By E

If you’re in your 40’s or 50’s and you have kids in the house, you’re probably familiar with what I like to call “dueling hormones.”

This is that ever-so-special time when mom is going through perimenopause and menopause, and her kids are going through puberty and high school, all under the same roof.

With all these hormonal fluctuations happening at once, things can get more than a little hectic!

This hormonal roundup can be tough on everyone involved, and I’ve heard more than a few stories that break my heart. From children going to stay with friends because neither child nor parent knew how to resolve the issues, to separation and divorce.

If any of this sounds familiar, let me assure you: You are not alone!

Fortunately, amidst the chaos, there is a real opportunity to take these challenges and turn them into a time of growth and connection. Often the anger or outbreaks that come with hormonal fluctuations on both sides are really just an overflow or projection of the same anger and frustration that we might harbor against ourselves. Working on yourself and your own personal growth, knowing your body and being prepared for perimenopause and menopause, will help ease the super-tense dynamics that can develop with the people closest to you.

One of the most difficult features of puberty for a parent to deal with is the communication shut down. Many kids just stop talking. They don’t want to hear anything from you and they don’t want you to hear anything from them! Your teenager is trying to find his or her own independence and confidence in their own decision-making, so this kind of push away is common and normal at this age. However, when you’re going through perimenopause and menopause, and you’re already feeling emotionally shaky yourself, it can be hard not to take this radio silence personally.

When communication shuts down completely, everyone suffers. So it is important to keep talking. Let them know that you still love them—that you are here for them if they need you and that you care, all the while respecting their journey towards independence. The best way to begin this process is to remind yourself that it isn’t about you. Try not to personalize their silence and their outbreaks. Remind yourself that just as you are going through your own hormonal roller coaster and life-changing experience, so are your kids.

You’re the parent, so you can be the first to give. Share your own challenges openly so they know what you’re going through, and you can give them an opportunity to relate to you, even if they don’t want to show it. Chances are your teen may be experiencing sleepless nights and mood swings just like you.

You may look at your teen and think an alien has swooped down and taken over your dear sweet child, but remember, they may be looking at you with the same thoughts! Of course, every circumstance is different, and it may take some tweaking to customize this loving approach to fit your own unique family structure, but the more we educate and empower our loved ones and ourselves, the happier and more compassionate the whole household will be. Ignore those rolling eyes, make eye contact and talk it out! You, too, can find hormone happiness in your house!

"E" is the pen name of Ellen Sarver Dolgen, author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, a light-hearted, informative, easy-to-read book on menopause, and creator of, a resource treasure trove for women going through perimenopause and menopause.

Members of the Fresh Start Community, be sure to check out your Special Offers page to get your copy of E's fun-loving Shmirshky book. Not a member yet? Become one by visiting

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