Not a Big Fan of the Teen Years

I wanted today to be a fine, fun, lovely day. My wife has a propensity for migraine headaches due to changes in the weather. Today she had a big one that she couldn’t get under control. My youngest daughter didn’t want to take her shower today, didn’t want to clean the house, and figured today would be a day to lose her cool… because that’s what you do when you don’t want to face reality. For two hours she screamed, cried, yelled… and didn’t want to listen to a simple instruction to lay on her bed.

Then my oldest daughter comes home and figures it’s her turn to get negative attention. She’ll want an audience and usually becomes verbally and physically aggressive. She’ll do whatever she can to upset her audience. She threatened to emancipate herself at 16, feels that we aren’t spending enough time with her (even though she decides every chance she gets to enjoy the company of her friends) and felt like she backed herself into a corner she couldn’t get out of.

It’s a good thing I planned to get 4 loads of laundry done during and after the incidents. I’m not a big fan of the teenage girl years. I’m learning through a couple of recent parenting books about teenage girls that a) the way these girls handle frustration is by fighting with their parents and b) they will eventually outgrow these struggles as they gain more comfort with their own identities.

How do I remain sane? Luckily a neighbor agreed to take our girls for the night for a sleepover with their daughter. It’s a reprieve to recharge our emotional and physical selves so that we can all return the next time in a better frame of mind. We’ve learned that we can’t discuss these issues until a few hours when we are all calm and neutral. Much like the tougher discussions of breaking curfew or incidents with drinking and drugs, there’s no sense in having a civilized conversation at the moment of impact.

As a parent, you have to decide what’s important to stay strong and firm with and what you can be flexible about. You allow your children to make mistakes and discover better ways and choices to make the next time. I take the good days and want to hold them for all they are worth. I laugh off the bad days, because I can’t take personally the struggles and turmoil they are going through. I want to save them from the pain and recollections going on, but I can’t.

You have to remember that at their age when an incident happens and its over, they’ve really moved on- even if it’s 20 minutes later. As an adult that can drive you crazy, but I agree with the experts on child psychology that these teenagers are living in the moment, so to them once the moment is over, it’s over. You can trap them in the car when you want to have a serious discussion on the big issues. But I’ve learned hard lessons that anything longer than 15 seconds when I want to teach them something about their behavior will be met with eye rolls, a hand upon the hip and one foot bolting for their room or the nearest door.

I sometimes wonder if they will make it to 18 alive. I often wonder if I will make it through my 40’s alive as well. As long as I have my wit and my sense of humor about me, my wife and I will be just fine. If this is how teenagers are now, how will children up the ante in the next generation? I just have to remember- I know I’m a good parent, I know we all will survive and that tomorrow is another day.

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