Hello, Ladies! I can't tell you how happy I am to be back with you - even though my vacation was amazing. It was kind of cool that while you were posting comments about your parents, my husband and I were with OUR daughter, who was busy mothering HER daughter (who by the way is absolutely the cutest baby ever in the world -- look at her!). So there was parenting going on all over the place. I put together several thoughts over the week that kind of lead into our discussion of working with the 'rents during these changing and sometimes confusing times.
THOUGHT #1: Parenting is the hardest job there is.
THOUGHT #2: Parenting is the most wonderful job there is.
THOUGHT #3: You never stop being a parent no matter how old your kid is.
THOUGHT #4: No matter how hold you are or how independent you become, deep down inside you still want your parents' approval, even when you say they are the last people you want to impress!
It all comes down to the fact that the kid-parent relationship is one of the most complex you'll ever experience. When you're very young, like Baby Maeryn, it seems relatively easy. They take care of your needs, so you're happy, and you smile at them, so they're happy (my face was actually tired from smiling at her so much last week!) and that's about it. The more independent you become -- because you're SUPPOSED to become independent; that's the whole point of growing up -- the more complicated the whole thing gets. You want to be an adult, but you aren't totally ready. They want you to grow up, but THEY'RE not totally ready. And since neither of you has ever done this thing before, both sides are bound to make mistakes.
I think that's where the "attitude" so many of you talked about comes in. As SYLVI and INLOVEWITHJESUS and so many others said, sometimes the eye rolling and the not-so-appropriate tone of voice just comes out and before you know it your father is telling your mother to banish you to your room for the rest of your life. You're just realizing that you really do have a mind of your own and hence opinions of your own. At this stage of your development, you understand sarcasm and find it almost irresistible to practice (we hear you, KAT and JESUS FREAK). You, like SARAH, may have mastered every use of the word "Whatever," which seldom goes over well with parents. As RACHEL points out, "As 13-17 yar old girls, we get a pretty bad rap just for being part of our demographic. It seems like adults seem to expect us to be rude, irresponsible, and rebellious so they jump on us at the slightest whiff of an attitude. And most of the time, we aren't even trying to go there, but we get a little prickly because of the assumption that we were. And so the cycle continues." (I could NOT have said that better myself, Rachel.)
Interestingly, many of you feel that you can talk to your folks about just about any SUBJECT, and yet the MEANS of communicating is where it seems to go south for a lot of you. Friday we'll talk about some of the topics that you do struggle with -- spiritual isues, personal matters, self-motivation. Today, let's focus on 'tude. There are two things to consider, I think.
(1) The "tone" you take doesn't come out of nowhere, and it doesn't come from you being a bad daughter. Where it DOES come from only you can know. Pay attention the next time you find yourself ready to roll your eyes or you can tell a "whatever" is about to cross your lips -- or your mother is warning you to watch your tone and you aren't even sure what she's talking about. What are you thinking? What has set you off? What is it exactly that's making you want to pick up the nearest pillow and chew it into small pieces? See if you can discover a pattern. Some of you already have, for example, when you speak of being self-motivated but not being taken seriously. I can distinctly remember (stand by for a "When I was a kid" reference here) being sixteen and practically biting my tongue off when my mother asked me, every single night, whether I had homework. Of course I had homework -- I was in all honors classes -- I was obsessive about my grades -- why did she feel like she had to ask me? It drove me nuts. What was that about? It was about feeling like she was trying to control me in something I already had control over.
If you want to post, share an insight you come to when you stop to examine your 'Tude Times.
I think we'll see several patterns emerging. Then we can talk about what to do about them.
(2) In the meantime, you're still going to run into trouble if you curl your lip at your father or let your eyes glaze over when your mother is giving you a lecture. Just because your feelings are at least somewhat valid, that doesn't mean it's okay (or wise!) to express them in ways that are essentially disrespectful. In the working world, you may disagree with your boss and even be right but if you roll your eyes up into your head and slam out of his office, you might find yourself out of a job. If a police officer pulls you over for going two miles over the speed limit, back talking him (or her!) may land you in handcuffs. Learning to honor your parents by curbing the urge to indicate, however subtly, that they are morons in your eyes is not only biblical for now, it's smart for your future.
So while you're figuring out exactly why your buttons get pushed sometimes, you'll also need to find a way to keep those dissin' behaviors in check. I suggest having a plan that you follow whenever possible. Decide on it beforehand. Practice it in front of the mirror. What that plan is depends on you, but it can be anything from closing your eyes before you roll them to putting both hands in front of your mouth before your lip has a chance to curl. One girl told me that whenever her parents started to get on her last nerve, she would say, "I LOVE you guys, but sometimes you make me a little crazy, okay?" That wouldn't work with every set of parents -- but hauling in a breath and counting to ten while you let it out might. Or saying, "I just need to go think." Or simply confessing that you feel some attitude coming on and you just need a minute. I don't think any parent expects her kid NOT to ever feel frustrated with a mom or dad during the teen years. Knowing that you're trying to fix it will probably impress them to no end. You are the only one who really knows that about your parents.
If you want to post, share what you do to reign in expressions of attitude -- or what absolutely doesn't work!
Almost every one of you has said how much you love your parents, and that's why I know you're going to get through this with dignity and class and have a pretty decent relationship with your folks if you don't already. I'm looking forward to walking with you on this part of your journey. Thanks for letting me.