What I'm learning about having a teenager ...

... so far.   I've only just started.  It is like someone with a six month old baby telling everyone they know what it is like to have a toddler.  I truly have no idea.  But I'm starting to get some small ideas.

1.  They are often grumpy

2.  They are often tired

3.  They are often unpleasant because of (1) and (2)

4.  They are often unpleasant to every single member of the family (good to share the 'love' around)

5.  You can't suggest anything

6.  Every request by a parent must be responded to with either a sigh or an eye roll.
7.  The parent is 'completely outrageous' and has 'utterly misunderstood' their response by quietly suggesting that they are being rude.

8.  They are, of course, quite ancient and often make shattering, dismissive comments to younger siblings along the lines of,  'yes, when I was younger, I thought that too but now I've grown up, (*parent quietly choking in the background*) I've found that not to be the case'.

9.  The parents are learning some kind of higher art of internal, circular breathing.  It was first learnt during the 'tantrum in the Target queue' years, but it needs to be refined.  It is necessary so that point (7) doesn't become a yelling match.  It also allows the parent to quietly pass out in the corner, which is of course the teenager's preferred location for the parent.

10.  All items that are lost on the trip between school and home are, without question, somehow, a parent's fault.  The lost shoe ('But I told you I had a hole in my school bag!', cries the teenager.   'A shoe-sized hole? I don't think that was quite mentioned my dearest',  the mother replies.)

Just a season ... I keep saying this over and over (although in our case it might be a long season).


Meredith said…
Well, I'm not even there yet.

But I have heard it said that it is like travelling through the one to ten years again. You just knock the 1 off the front of a teenager's age. 12 year olds are like 2 year olds, just beginning to learn about the idea that you can be independent from your parents and taking those first tentative independent steps. 13 and 14 years old are like 3 and 4 year olds irrationally testing their capacity for independence. 15 and 16 year olds are like 5 and 6 year olds - getting it under more control but still needing lots of adult supervision. And so on.

I don't know from personal experience but my observations of teenagers suggests this theory might have legs. It seems to be a useful way of framing the behaviour navigating that second decade.
Rebecca said…
Jenny, you HAVE to read Age of Opportunity by Paul David Tripp. I just finished it (in preparation for having a teenager in a couple of years) and it really helped me to keep a good perspective on the whole parenting thing. I would love to hear your thoughts after you read it!
Sandra said…
The other things to remember
1: you are SOOOOOOOOOO embarrassing.
2: you must never ever take their photo and don't even think about posting it on facebook or displaying it in public (perhaps that's just a girl thing - I'll leave it to you to find out) Tagging photos that are reluctantly permitted on facebook is completely forbidden. This is despite the fact their friends regularly post incredibly unattractive and unflattering photos of them.
3: their neurones aren't completely reorganised until their early 20s. Depressing thought.
4: your are ignorant, totally ignorant
5: you have 'no clue'
6:you have never experienced what they are going through and have 'no idea'
7: see, you are ignorant
8: they are never, ever wrong
9: what's for dinner?? (this question can be asked at breakfast, before breakfast, by SMS in the middle of the day, when you are dishing it up, and usually when you are at work and your spouse or another family member is cooking)
10:I've unpacked the dishwasher - hwat do you mean I have to help you clean up after dinner? I've already done something and I have homework to do.

And at all times, remember, calm your farm.
Jean said…
:) You've inspired a follow-up post...sometime. My favourite is the strange, startling and completely irrelevant statments that come out of my daughter's mouth e.g. "You are so strict!" (because we took her on a bushwalk) and "you just don't understand!" (for anything and everything).

Also the losing attempt not to engage in the escalating arguments...I catch myself arguing about the craziest things just to win a point in the face of all that irrationality! Keep calm, keep calm...

And then when you do keep calm, it's never noticed. Instead, it's "Why are you so cross, Mummy?" "I'm not!" "Yes you are!" Argument started again...

You have to laugh.

But my daughter put her arm around my shoulder voluntarily and unprompted for the first time in a year yesterday!!!! The angels sang hallelujah, I'm sure - well in my heart they did, anyway. The year started with a complete refusal to let me hug her, gradually improved to a willingness to allow huges initiated by me, and ended with this. So there is hope.

And teenagers bring lots and lots of joy too - let's not forget that. Though hard to remember in the toughest months of this stage of life.

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