By GalTime Teen Parenting Expert, Barbara Greenberg, PhD
CAUTIONDO YOU FEAR THE TEENAGE YEARS?
I think that we can all agree that we fear the teenage years, that we struggle to get through them, and that we secretly and sometimes not-so secretly ask our friends with older kids if our teens will ever return to more relaxed versions of themselves.
Yes, I too, a mother and a clinical psychologist ,have asked this question. And, just like the rest of you, I have waited with baited breath for the answers. As a psychologist I should know that, of course, most of them will turn into better versions of their teenage selves. But when your own kids and emotions are involved, you worry just like every other parent.
I have been having a fantasy lately about how teens can do the necessary work of the teenage years that doesn't involve being surly and moody which I'd like to share with you. Who knows? Maybe the teens will go for this. And, hey there's nothing wrong with fantasies and dreams, right?
Teens need to accomplish the task of separation and becoming more independent from parents during adolescence. But I wonder where the mysterious template is that says that they can best accomplish this by tuning us out and being surly and moody. They can't possibly be enjoying this behavior, can they? Come to think of it, I don't think that I have ever asked teens how they feel about the current set of expectations for how they are supposed to act. I mean, we do expect surliness, right?
We prepare for this sort of behavior years in advance, read books on how to deal with these moody creatures, and sometimes stay up all night wondering why our formerly loving kids now seem to hate us. For goodness sake, they are even embarrassed to be seen with us. They don't even realize how very cool we really are!
HERE'S MY PLAN-- WE SEND A PROPOSAL TO ALL TEENS REQUESTING THE FOLLOWING:
1. Be very direct with us, your parents. If you need space, tell us rather than running up to your rooms when we ask you how your day was.
2. Tell us whether or not you want our advice or if you simply want us to listen. We don't always know what to do.
3. Share just a little bit of information with us. We really don't need to know everything. We just want to know that you are doing okay.
4. If you are feeling pressured by your peers to do something that you don't want to do, tell us. We will be the bad guys and tell you that you have to come home or can't go to that party. We would really like to help you.
5. Please know that even though we are adults we are not mind-readers. Tell us a little about what's going on and we promise to listen without freaking out.
OK, parents. I'd love for you to add to this proposal before we deliver it to our teens. Additional items, please?
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