Hey, my mother said it to me, and I probably deserved it. Teenagers can be the most insufferable creatures on the planet. They can be mean, disrespectful, ungrateful and downright cruel. This is often the point in where you seriously doubt your parenting skills, and may even wonder if either one of your will make it out of adolescence alive.
I've been working with teenagers for 16 years and guess what? This is normal. In fact, you were probably a pain in the butt too. If you think about it, it's a tough time and a time that very few people want to relive. They're frustrated, don't feel heard, feel crappy about their weird, changing, smelly bodies all while trying to be cool....it's rough. But just in case you were the perfect child or just want a better understanding of what's going on, keep reading:
What is Actually Happening and Why
Your teenager is trying to figure out who he or she really is, independent of who you've told them they are. They're starting to realize that their parents aren't the only important person in their lives. They crave the independence of adulthood, yet still crave the attachment and security of being under your wing. It's a developmental "crisis" of individuality and autonomy.
You're not going to believe this, but they truly want a relationship with you, they want to know that you're looking out for them They actually crave the structure and monitoring in their home because they are slowly yet surely realizing that the world can be a cold and cruel place. Unfortunately, it can be torture watching them fight against this.
How do we make it out of this alive
Be there, always be there. No matter how much they resist and ignore you. Keep checking-in. Keep. sending them mushy texts. Keep asking about grades. Keep going to concerts, games, plays, etc....believe me, they notice that you're there and, they notice when you're not. Even when they act like they don't care, trust me, they do.
Let them go off and explore, but don't completely let them go. Make sure they know that you will be there when they need you, and when they do, just listen and don't say "I told you so".
Adolescence is loooong (13-19, some say until 22), but there's a reward in the end....grandchildren. Don't give up on your relationship with your child, the story isn't over yet. If you've made it out adolescence alive, hopefully, your relationship will be so close that you can watch your children get their just desserts.
*Working titles included "How not to kill your teenager", and "I can't stand my teenage daughter", and "My teenager is possessed by the devil"...I think I made the right choice.
Leana Sykes is a Relationship Counselor and the owner of Leana Sykes Relationship Counseling in Oaklyn, NJ.
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