This article, entitled "What I know about parenting a teenager because I remember what it felt like to be a teenager being parented," comes from Nicole Knepper at Moms Who Drink and Swear.
Now that I am the parent of a teenager, I find that I am spending a lot of time trying not to be a jerk in response to some of the jerk things he does. Just when I hit my stride and feel like I "get" my kids, they change and their needs change and I stumble. I've found that remembering how it felt to be a kid keeps that stumble from turning into a face plant.
My teenager is a good kid, totally NOT a jerk. I don't say that because he's my kid and I'm blind to the idea that he might be a jerk. I know he's not. I'm told quite often that he's not. I live with him too, so I think that even if it was hard to admit it to others, I'd know deep down if he was a jerk and I'd admit it to myself. I'm grateful that he's not. I know it could change, but for now, he's just engaging in the occasional jerk behavior and that's all I can really care about. Worrying about whether my kid will be a jerk in the future is about as productive as expecting him to stop doing stupid teenager things now.
He's a teenager! That word is thick with meaning, you know? And the truth about teenagers is that they are weird and seem like jerks to grown ups because their brains work weird, making them seem like jerks.
Anyhoooo...I'm trying very hard not to waste my time trying to convince MY teenager that I am not a jerk who thinks that anything I say, even if it is DRENCHED IN COMMON SENSE, will make a difference to him when he's got his mind set to jerk behavior. For example...
Me - Where's your CAP hoodie?
Teenager - My girlfriend has it.
Me - Oh. Well, you better find something else to wear I guess.
Teenager - Truth.
Yeah, that's how it went, but let me tell you what I wanted to say...
OMG DOESN'T SHE HAVE A HOODIE SHE CAN WEAR? GET IT BACK! THAT IS A VERY EXPENSIVE HOODIE.
And then I would stop yelling and say...
Ok, sorry about the yelling, but seriously, I would like you to get it back. I am sure she has plenty of warm clothes that she can wear, but you don't, so unless you want to spend the next however many months of the polar vortex on ice, I suggest you get it back. I like her and all, but I'd let her turn into a block of ice if it meant you could be warm and safe because you are my kid.
And then I would probably think about how stupid that last part sounds, because I would never let her turn into a block of ice. I'd give her MY hoodie, you know?
I just said the oh thing and to find something else, because I remember being a teenager like it was yesterday and I know that anything I say will sound a lot like this...
BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH
I remember thinking that my parents were nosy and unreasonable and overprotective and boring and that they didn't understand me at all. I remember arguing with my mom and dad about dressing warm and OMG didn't they understand that I could NOT wear a hat and mess up my HAIR OMG WHY DIDN'T THEY UNDERSTAND ME? Jerks.
I remember wearing my boyfriend's shirt and thinking it was the most amazing and romantic thing EVER. And by the looks on their faces when I see them together, my son and his girlfriend have the most amazing and romantic thing EVER right now, so really, is my time really best spent worrying about whether my kid or his girlfriend are warm enough? I mean, clearly, they have the hots for each other and I've got to spend my energy trying not to worry about that.
Anyhoooo...read this really informative and easy to read stuff on the teenage brain and how it works (or doesn't). It's a good use of your time, much better than trying to get your teenager to listen to you.