Often, I meet a mom who is on the verge of tears describing how her teen hates her. She can’t understand it, and she wants her baby back. The teen looks on sullenly, once again exasperated by a parent who just doesn’t understand.
As a nonparent but a therapist for many kids, teens, and families, I can easily understand what this teen is going through. I remember it well. I hated my mom, too, and she was a sobbing mess due to my abrupt withdrawal. All I wanted was independence and for her to get off my back. Looking back, I want to kiss my mom for being so annoying. She saved me from so many negative experiences by having rules and expectations, but she also pushed me away by being emotional and reactive to my teen antics.
The preteen and teen years are filled with intense emotions and conflict. Historically, this change has been attributed to hormones, which is certainly a large part of it. Through our entire adult lives, we wrestle with hormones surging in our bodies, but after our teenage years we have developed enough to manage most of the residual emotions. Teens, on the other hand, have not. They feel so many different and new things, and they don’t always have the ability to slow down their reactions.
Educate Yourselfparenting move you make. Read books, articles, and websites about teen development. An informative, easy-to-read book I recommend is The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults by Dr. Frances E. Jensen.
When the situation is tense, take three deep breaths before responding to your teen. Don’t respond impulsively, as doing so may fuel the fire and create a bigger rift in your relationship. Attempt to process your emotions with another adult if you need to, and present yourself as calm, cool, and collected when approaching your teen. When this is not possible, try your best not to engage in an argument and instead walk away. If you are losing your cool or crying, your message may not be as effective and may further contribute to your teen’s negative perception of you.
See It from Their Perspective
It may not be sensible to you, but there is usually some merit to your teen’s argument. Validate it. Let them know that you get it, and you want them to be happy.
Looking back, I want to kiss my mom for being so annoying. She saved me from so many negative experiences by having rules and expectations, but she also pushed me away by being emotional and reactive to my teen antics.Almost all teens need some major guidance. Many lack the ability to think far ahead and weigh all the consequences of their choices. Part of your job as a parent is to control impulses. Your teen may rail against you, but don’t give up! Letting your teen run wild will help neither you nor your teen. Teens can be harsh, hurtful, and even intimidating to their parents, but you are the adult in the relationship and it’s your job—not your teen’s—to stand strong and maintain boundaries.
Forget the messy rooms, don’t worry so much about the heavy eyeliner, and simply focus on safety and love. You love your teen because they were once your baby, and even though they can seem cold, moody, and sometimes downright mean, your teen loves you underneath it all and they do NEED you.
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