Let’s be real: Teenagers can suck, big time. Sometimes it seems like their job is to negatively impact their parent’s mood. If they aren’t ignoring us, rolling their eyes at us, or sighing dramatically, they are pretty much cooped up in their rooms on a device of their liking. And yet, we have to live with them, and somehow not hate them. Tall order. Here are some tips to hopefully get us through the next several years…okay let’s start with the next hour.
First step in not hating your teenager: think about what you wanted from your parents at this age.
Alright, I’ll give this a shot. I was almost fourteen, just like my son is now. What did I want from my parents? Money, food, clothes, rides, a place to live, and to be left alone. (It was the eighties so there were no laptops or cell phones.) Yes! This is just what our teenagers want from us! And yet, what do we actually give them, besides thousands of dollars in electronics? We give them advice, maybe lectures. We give them time with us. We give them a ton of inquiries. But really, teens’ needs are basic. And there’s a reason for it. They have to learn to be independent. That’s their job, actually. So instead of taking the eye rolls and the “Really Mom? Don’t ever sing like that again” too personally, let’s remember this.
Lower your expectations.
When it comes to teenagers, there’s really nothing better than having your expectations super low…like on the ground, low. It’s taken me a year to realize my son is only capable of being nice to me for a few minutes before he remembers he is supposed to be condescending. So where I used to question this: “Why are you only capable of being nice for two minutes?” I now accept it, and try to appreciate that coveted two minutes of kindness where he actually spoke to me like I was an equal human being. You can use this on anything, really. Maybe you want no food eaten in his room whatsoever, but you decide as long as he brings the dishes back down, and/or there are no bugs crawling in his room you are okay with it. You wanted her to watch a movie with you, but she got on her phone and started texting ten minutes in. Hey, that was ten minutes! You see how it works.
It’s time to get some interests of your own.
Remember how when our kids were little we could depend on them for constant kisses, squeezes, cuddles and love, love, love? Yeah, those days are over. You can no longer depend on your child for your emotional needs. He/she is a teenager now. It’s time to get a life Mom and Dad. Since your teenager wants nothing from you except to tote his or her butt around town, you have some free time and some new needs. Go try that barre class you keep talking about. Sign up for a golf league. Have some people over. Maybe, even rediscover your spouse. As in S-E-X. The point is, you need to reengage with friends, and your partner, in the real world, and have some fun! This will offset the misery your kid gives you.
Break out the pictures.
You and your teenager both need a reminder of the good old days. Pull out that baby album, play some videos, and show your kid the cutie-pie angel she used to be. It wasn’t really so long ago she was sucking her thumb and walking around with a saggy diaper, dragging teddy behind her. This activity is sure to bring smiles and warm fuzzies to both of you. Don’t jump the gun when she pulls the cell phone out. Maybe she’s just posting pics of her former self.
Here’s the messy truth: your teenager doesn’t hate you (all the time) and you don’t hate him or her. It’s just hard to watch someone you loved so hard and nurtured to pieces just up and not need you anymore. Pain comes with the territory of parenting. And this can be one long and painful stage. But then they move out or go to college and that’s a whole new agony. And a whole new blog post. Hang in there, my friends, we are all in this together!
Rebecca Burton LMFT (@rebeccaburtonco) says
Good stuff, Julie!