There are two types of parents out there: those who have trouble talking to their teens, and those whose kids haven’t become teenagers yet. For many of us, this communicative shortfall will be as harmless as it is inevitable. After all, a few rolled eyes and slammed doors never killed anyone. But for others, the breakdown in communication can lead to a slip in family values. We can loose track of our kids, and relinquish influence over the path they’re walking in life.
Patience is a virtue, especially during the teenage years. But watch yourself closely. The day you realize that you’ve compromised the principles that you once held for your child or family, is the day that you need to take yourself out to lunch, and come back a changed parent. Bludgeoned by a steady mantra of complaints and worn by acts of defiance, some of us can’t help but allow our principles to slip over time. Whether consciously or subconsciously, the slow but steady process of incrementalism sometimes causes us to abandon our master plan. Sometimes we don’t even realize it until we’re whacked over the head by the proverbial frying pan.
For some of us, that frying pan is a trip to the hospital or police station. For others, its a simple as hearing our child swear for the first time. Whatever form this moment comes in, don’t let its value as an epiphany pass you by. Don’t get frustrated. Don’t feel embarrassed. Whether you find yourself in this position today, tomorrow, or maybe it was three years ago, remember these words of wisdom and experience…”You haven’t been defeated, my friend, you have been challenged.” What are you going to do about it?
The Terrible Teens
Behavioral Analysts have jokingly referred to the teenage period as the “Terrible Teens”, an homage to the “Terrible Two’s” phase that so many of us feel lucky to have survived. Scientifically, there are many distinct similarities between the two phases, and the strains placed on family members have many of the same roots.
Students of “Teenology” have observed that the adolescent phase is actually harder on parents than the “Terrible Two’s”. This is because parents are faced with a devious biological illusion. Before them stands a well-developed human being, capable of mastering multiplication tables and easily reciting the batting averages of their ten favorite baseball players. They can run faster than us, eat more than us and spend more than us. On an average day, they present us with any number of indications that rationality and comprehension have taken hold within their rapidly growing bodies; and therein lays the problem. When they were two, their irrationality was accompanied by a pint sized frame, clumsy footsteps and a limited vocabulary. It all made sense. But none of that physical immaturity is present in teenagers. Its much harder for parents to embrace, or even acknowledge, the mental immaturity of their adolescent children.
Of course acknowledging this circumstance could not be more important for both you and your child. For starters, it can save you endless frustration. So many of the communication problems we face are wound up in an adolescent web of unrelated confusion and contempt. So “No”, they’re not really that upset about having to take out the garbage. It’s just that your request sparked emotion that was already teetering atop a huge mound of completely natural teenage frustration. Where’s all that frustration coming from? (click here)