When our eldest son was about eight he once suggested I “hire myself out to other families as a Super Nanny for out-of-control kids”! Until today I have not been able to work out if he thought I’d truly have a talent for that or if he considered me such a strict mother that it seemed like the obvious career choice… a modern version of The Wicked Witch’ perhaps…

Today he is fourteen and in full flow with being a teenager: he kicks against everything I (and we) stand for, flips constantly between being heartbreaking charm and the foulest moods and comments.

When the Tempests of the Teenage years hit our family, I secretly bought a book. It is called “Get Out Of My Life ; But First Drive Me and Alex To Town”:

A friend recommended it. One day I made the mistake of leaving it out in full view. Our resident teenager was rattled: “You don’t need a book to tell you how to parent me, you are supposed to simply know that!!!” He added: “I read a few chapters and it’s the most stupid book ever!” From that I learned to keep the book tucked away. It is not actually a stupid book at all, it tackles many scenarios faced by parents of teenagers and gives sound advice on ‘dealing with impossible situations’. I recommend this book  – but hush, don’t tell my eldest son please!

I am a shamanic practitioner and teacher. In our house we follow a spiritual perspective on life. I had braced myself for rebellion in the areas of drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll. However, my son found something that rattled me even more profoundly. One of his closest friends is the son of a local evangelical priest and he got invited to church socials. What I did NOT realise (but [probably should have!)  when he first started attending them is that they evolve some Bible Studies and serious  indoctrination at the end. (As in: “Join us or burn in Hell”!) My son comes home full of talk about hell fire, original sin, man’s dominion over animals and so forth. These are all concepts that we have painstakingly kept far from our children’s daily lives.

The most painful (and outrageous!) thing he asked me recently was: “What if I end up burning in Hell because you chose to bring me up the shamanic way?!” If you wish to rattle a shamanic practitioner – that question is a good starting point!

So I am learning big lessons around keeping my cool and how to ‘give teenagers enough rope to hang themselves with’.

Or course I talk to him, at length, about the extreme views they are trying to sell him and I encourage him to explore more enlightened forms of Christianity that allow people to think for themselves. His response was: “They can’t be too extreme, they encourage sex before marriage!”  – Well… thank you for the warning Dear Son, but that is more of an issue for Roman Catholics, because of the Pope….

And so it goes! He has been given a Bible in school and one of those days I half expect him to hit me over the head with it. The day he does I shall sit down and write an alternative book called The Teenage Bible, about how all teenagers badly need a  spiritual toolkit.

As my brother said in a recent phone call (and I think he is right): simply not taking your children to church and saying “I give you freedom darling!” is not actually good enough. We owe it to young people to give them spiritual guidance and a toolkit. If they themselves decide to jettison the toolkit – that is well within their rights, but opting out of giving young people any kinds of spiritual education leaves them kind of ship-wrecked on the storms of life without a life raft.


Imelda Almqvist