Has anyone else ever opened their mouth and heard their mother coming out? Yeah, me too. When the heck did THAT happen?
I mean, I distinctly remember swearing (perhaps even with my hand on a Bible) that I would never, ever (ever, ever, ever) say the things or do the things that my mother did. “I’ll be different.” “I’ll be cool.” “I’ll be understanding.” “I’ll remember what it was like to be a kid or teenager.”
Yet, here I am. A reincarnation of my own mother.
Now, don’t get me wrong. My mom was actually considered the “cool” mom – the hip parent that all my friends wished they had. She was awesome. But she was still a mom and she still drove me crazy from time to time (I think that might be a law in some states – but don’t quote me on it).
Like when I was soooo angry at her that I would spit out the most vile thing I could think of…”I HATE YOU!” and my mom would just smile sweetly at me and reply, “that’s okay, I love you enough for both of us.” I’m sure you can imagine how infuriating that response was.
I found myself doing this EXACT same thing to a teenaged boy in my life. Tanner was beyond reason and extremely angry at me (it started out as frustration with a video game but quickly turned to anger when I suggested he stop playing). As he stomped out of the room and slammed his bedroom door I could hear him screaming through the door, “I HATE YOU” and I couldn’t help myself. I smiled and said, “that’s okay, I love you enough for both of us.” Then I quickly looked around to make sure I was by myself!
Everything from spats with my gal pals to break-ups with my boyfriend. My mother would try to offer words of wisdom and I would shrug her off telling her “you have no idea what I’m going through.” As if I were the only girl in the history of girlhood that has ever fought with my friends or had a failed relationship. She took it all in stride. And now, here I am. Talking to my nieces about their friends and the struggles with those relationships or hearing about their boyfriends and the highs and lows of those relationships as well.
The teen years are a trying time for you parents and caregivers. So many things are happening with kids at that age. They are trying to establish their autonomy and increase their independence. Those teens are feeling the need to find a social group where they fit. In Chapter 4 we discuss neurodevelopment (in layman’s terms that’s the terrible 2’s; the more terribler 3’s; and, the teenage years). Research now suggests that a person’s brain is not fully developed until the mid-twenties. So, depending on the age of your teen folks, you might have ten years to go until that child’s brain is done cooking and you can start to genuinely enjoy them (of course I’m exaggerating. Kind of. Maybe.).
It’s a good thing they’re cute, huh?
But anyway, I always think that knowledge is power. When I understand that these teens and pre-teens in my life are going through a very typical developmental process it really does help me to not react with my emotions, but rather to respond in a way that I have actually thought through. You might have heard it once or twice (maybe 20 times) in your Mandt workshops, “affirm your emotions and choose your behavior.”
I know it’s hard, parents and caregivers, but I have every faith that you can do this!
Nikki Wince – Mandt Faculty Supervisor