I like to compare teenagers to two-year olds because the very same dynamic is unfolding, only this time it is a stressful transition from childhood to adulthood that requires many years to complete. I read somewhere that 25 is the age that young adults finally get an adult brain! In our family, we actually celebrate that birthday and welcome our offspring into full adulthood.
Teens are adjusting to their rapidly changing bodies. Sometimes teenagers, boys especially like to prove their new-found strength. David loved to come behind me in the kitchen and with a huge grin on his face pick me up and swing me around or even turn me upside down!.
“Oh well”, I’d think to myself, “This too will pass, this too will pass.”
It did take a couple of teens to break my husband and me in, but bythe time our fourth kid turned 13, we understood that it was pointless to overreact. One of my sons , in his early teens, had just announced that he could not stand living under our roof another minute,
“I’m out of here!”, he bellowed, “and don’t expect me to come back!”
The door slammed and he tore off on his ten speed bike. Of course my father was visiting and witnessed this dramatic episode. After a few minutes
Dad turned to my husband and wondered
,” Aren’t you going to go after him?”
Michael calmly kept reading, then looked up and explained,
“Oh, I’m not worried. The only place near enough to bike to is one of his buddy’s and they don’t feed kids over there. He’ll be back when he is hungry enough.”
Sure enough, hunger brought my son home late that night. We did not need to pronounce any ultimatums because the recognition that he still needed to live at home and attempt to get along with our rules was humiliating enough. No need to rub his face in the facts.Teenagers are often humiliated by their mistakes in judgment so they relish the opportunity to catch us in the wrong.
For example, Michael’s usual response to swearing, disrespect or a poor attitude was,
“Leave that sort of stuff at school!”
One evening at the dinner table on a Sunday, Michael yelled in anger at the dog. David had just filled his plate and was coming back to the table. He leaned over, looked at his dad and with a twinkle in his eye and a huge grin on his face said ,
“Leave that sort of stuff at church, eh Dad!”
Michael snapped out of his bad mood and had to smile. The kid was right. David’s humour diffused the situation and Michael was the one who had to apologize this time.
Teenagers love to rile their parents, to flaunt rules and standards in a blind wish to figure out who they are in and of themselves. If I remember this fact, I don’t overreact to obnoxious behaviour or crazy fashions. As parents, we are often counselled to choose our battles with our children and refrain from forbidding all crazy fashion experiments. About 90% of the time, I have to admit that some disagreements, with my teens especially, were not worth fighting over and as the most mature person in the equation, I should probably acquiesce as gracefully as possible.
Ah, this too will pass” Just don’t fall off your chair at the dinner table when one of your young adults turns to you and asks how your day went!