4. This is not about you. There will be days (or weeks) where all you get from your teenager will be a resentful glare, an eye roll, and – if you are lucky – an angry growl. The teenager will address you with completely spontaneous, “I hate you!” on regular occasions. Remember: it isn’t you he hates. It’s the hormonal storm that is driving him nuts and that he can’t verbalize or comprehend. Please, see point 1 of the first post in this series for suggestions as to what to do.
5. Provide assistance that is being asked of you. Don’t try to correct the teenager’s mess-ups according to what you think will be a good way to do so. At this point, the help that matters is the kind that has been explicitly asked of you.
A real-life example: Once, Molly called me on the phone at 11 pm.
“My boyfriend is a jerk!” she declared. “Can you tell him he is a jerk and scream at him if I hand him the phone?”
Molly’s boyfriend was always extremely polite and respectful to me. As for me, contrary to what people might believe after reading my blog, I don’t walk around insulting people and screaming at them. However, if that’s what the kid needed at that point, that’s what I had to provide. She passed the phone to the boyfriend.
“You stupid MF, FY from here to hell!” I ranted. “You, horrible, nasty jerk!” I swore at the poor guy for five minutes and then asked him to give the phone to Molly.
“Cool,” she said. “Thanks.”
When she came back home, I didn’t ask any questions, of course. (See rule 1.)
“My boyfriend and I made up,” she informed me. “Thanks for putting him in his place.”
It is very difficult to restrain oneself from lecturing and sharing one’s profound wisdom. You have to do that, though, if you want to preserve your relationship with the kid and not just have them call you on Christmas and Mother’s Day.
12 thoughts on “How to Raise a Teenager?, Part II”
“There will be days (or weeks) where all you get from your teenager will be a resentful glare, an eye roll, and – if you are lucky – an angry growl.”
Completely disagree – hormones are not an excuse for poor behaviour. Civility and respect are both expected and delivered. Don’t roll your eyes at me – you think I don’t understand, then explain it, again. if it’s that important, then take the time to communicate it.
As for number 5 – I agree, to a point. I will not enable poor behaviour, or solve their problems for them. Having a fight with your boyfriend and need a mediator, no problem. I’ll mediate. Fight for you – not a chance. I will not treat someone in a way that I otherwise wouldn’t. That sets a bad example.
If I may ask, do you have a grown kid, Patrick? If so, how often do you talk and meet? How present are you in each other’s lives? How often do you discuss your problems, joys, and daily existences?
My oldest is almost 13; my social circle includes parents of children aging in range from 3 – 35. I listen and I learn from their experiences.
As for discussing my ‘problems, joys and daily existences’, that’s something I expect to find on Dr Phil. I discuss the world.
The model of family I know and love – and that my suggestions are aimed at achieving – is the one where people are very close their entire lives. I understand that other people have other models of family life and support their choice to pursue them. However, I love my model and share my suggestions as to how it can be achieved by those who are interested in it.
But your parents surely haven’t done everything like in this list and things turned out well, so many things aren’t a must, if there is a basis of love and understanding and dedicating time to one’s kids since childhood. My relatives wouldn’t have behaved like in the list either (f.e. letting not being nights at home) and I’ve been and am very close to them because of the 3 above-mentioned factors.
Remember when I mentioned those people who weren’t allowed to live through their teenage rebellion when they should and then do it much more painfully later on in life? I was talking about myself. 😦 There was a severe rift in our relationship for a while. Then, it took a lot of effort on both sides to heal it.
This is why I offer this advice: to help people avoid all this suffering.
If it isn’t too privite, seems like you had a teenage rebellion with a boyfriend, “books are stupid” period, etc. What more can be needed?
You said you’ll tell about your adult rebellion later? It would be interesting, especially since I don’t understand neither what you missed in teens nor how it looks like later and why.
I was forced to get married at 19 against my will, el. When other girls my age danced and partied, I worked day and night to feed an unemployed husband. Then, at 22 I had to take care of a kid and again work, work, work. Fun was what I had missed. 🙂
Not to worry, though. I partied like an animal for 6 years in grad school. 🙂
*I partied like an animal for 6 years in grad school.*
And I am 100% sure enjoyed it times more than teens, who’ve never seen different (except partying). Seriously.
I love the positive attitude. 🙂
I just don’t see you being forced to do anything against your will.
I was 19, Patrick. I have refashioned myself into a completely different person since then. I was so painfully shy, I couldn’t buy anything at a store. Let alone discuss my personal life so freely on a blog that is read, among others, by my colleagues and even my university administrators. 🙂