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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love/Hate

I got into it with my teenager last night. She sassed, I yelled, she screamed, I swatted, she kicked and promptly slammed her door in my face before I could react. 

Defeat.

Sure, I love that kid. She's funny, musically talented, beautiful and a great big sister (most of the time). But, sometimes I feel like putting her out with the dirty diapers and orange peels. When she sasses me, bosses her little sisters, nags, points out other's flaws and generally acts like a narcissistic brat, I have to hold myself back from utterly losing my mind, or worse, saying or doing something to her that I'll later regret.

When I first became a parent, other moms would say stuff like, "Wait until she becomes a teenager." Those helpful hints made me so nervous and scared that I'd hate my daughter once she turned 12 or 13...and, now I'm wondering if I sometimes do hate it because I was forewarned.

Why is it that we seem to want to scare other moms about parenting teens/tweens? Do we feel like we'll prepare those naive moms for the mind-melting, gray hair-raising days ahead? Telling other moms how tough it is might make us feel validated, but it could be doing more harm than good.

Putting new moms on guard for their potentially nasty teenagers doesn't help that future relationship between child and parent, it weakens the bond. Complaining about your teenager doesn't really make you feel any better. If your teen overhears you talking about them, you may have just damaged your relationship with them even further.

Teenagers wish adults weren't so negative about them. I remember feeling that way as a teen. Maybe teenagers need the same understanding and patience given to babies. Sure, it's easier to be patient with a baby, they can't tell you you're a horrible mom. So, what if we changed the way we (parents of teens) talk about raising our teenagers?

By referring to parenting teens as difficult, are we just setting ourselves up for future problems? If I didn't know they would be tough, would I approach interactions with my teenagers differently? Would I react to the moodiness, sassiness, and laziness any differently than I treat my baby who won't eat the food placed before her? How does one cope with the barrage of frustrations over teenagers? Should we bottle it up or find other ways to discuss possible solutions (and believe me, I've considered sending her to military school)?

4 comments:

  1. You might be on to something here. Fortunately we're doing okay so far, so I will pretend I've never been told how difficult they "will" be!

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  2. Emily, Is it possible to ignore all the advice you've received from all the do-gooder moms and dads?

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  3. Love your thoughts and agree: the negativity about teens can become overwhelming. It seems to be true at each point in the life cycle: "Oh, wait till you get married! Get pregnant! Give birth! Sleepless nights! Terrible twos! Those teens!" It seems like it makes others feel part of an exclusive club to regal the newbies with horror stories.

    The important thing is to stay connected to your parental relationship as the unique and amazing thing it is. Sure, your daughter is a teen. And yes, that will mean there will be hurdles to jump. But she is still YOUR daughter. The one you've loved all her life. And your relationship is just that: YOURS.

    The horror stories are 2-dimensional. They leave out the amazing late night talks, or the laughter, or the shared tears. Good for you for reclaiming that and downplaying the horror stories!

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  4. I agree...So much negativity surrounds our teens. I have always been aware of that and try my best not to jump on the band wagon. I dont argue with mine but they know Im the boss. I try my best to guide them with the typical teen issues. We talk openly about our reasons why we dont want them to do certain things and fingers crossed it seems to be working.
    Great post!

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