Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Teens Are People Too

So many of us parents get frustrated with our kids, especially teenagers. It sometimes seems like teens don’t think or do things to just piss us off. We tell them the rules or decisions and they tell us it’s not fair; you don’t care; you’re just trying to make my life miserable, etc., etc. We’ve all been there—don’t YOU remember when you were 13? 15? 17? I sure do! I swore I would NEVER forgive my dad for not letting me go to a party when I was thirteen! Today, I can’t even remember whose party it was but I am talking to my dad—love him to pieces and wouldn’t know what to do without him!

So, what’s the answer?

 I’ll never claim to be the perfect mother but I do believe I’m a good mom. I put my kid’s needs before my own as I believe it’s my job to sacrifice for them and not the other way around. Occasionally I yell. I also talk, a lot, or as my boys say, preach, and most importantly, I listen, because I feel it’s essential to their psyche that they express what they think and feel. I’m the parent but that doesn’t give me exclusive rights to intense feelings or opinions.

I encourage communication, even if it’s over a decision I’ve made that my children don’t agree with. My boys have always been allowed to tell me why they think I’m wrong (which is often!) and then I explain why I think I’m right (which is often!). The decision doesn’t change but at least I’ve listened to their “side” and they feel validated and important.

They are young people. They have feelings, just like we big people do. How would we feel if someone told us because I said so, or because I’m the mom; I’m the adult; I know better…or whatever other reason we come up with to justify why Junior can’t drive at 16; Juniorette can’t go to the movies with a boy who’s in college; 11 year old Bobby can’t have a Facebook page; and all the other things we say “no” to in order to ruin their lives!

This method in no way encourages teens to be discourteous. If your teen gets rude or out of hand—end the conversation. If he wants to be treated with respect he must GIVE it. It also doesn’t mean your rule or decision will change. It only means you’ll listen and validate his feelings, understanding that he may not like the ruling and he needs to listen to you and your reasoning. It’s YOUR job to keep him safe, healthy, etc., and it’s HIS job to follow the rules. When he’s an adult, he can move out then follow society’s rules. Either way, he has rules to follow.

 Being a family doesn’t mean everyone always agrees. It also doesn’t mean someone isn’t going to be unhappy about something. It means living together, as individuals, who can disagree with dignity. A family can live together in harmony if each one treats the other with respect regardless of age.


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