Things have been happening with my boys lately that give me flashes of my point of view when I was their age. I’m trying so hard to understand and relate to them. But honestly, many times I feel like my teens were abducted by aliens and I’ve been left with strangers.
Lack of teen parenting advice
It’s hard to find personal stories about the struggles between parents and their teen kids. I read so much about lessons with new motherhood and elementary school years, but then it falls off. Crickets.
I had a whole story to share about what happened yesterday with one of my kids for context on the rest of my post. But to respect their privacy, I took it out.
My personal story as a teen
Our interaction brought me back to when I was around my son’s age, in the car with my mom. This I can share.
She used to pick me up from my friend, Laura’s house a few days a week after dinner when she got off work. My dad died a few years earlier, and my mom worked late every day in a minimum wage job. I’d get in the car, and immediately she would start yelling at me about how annoying it was to have to pick me up, along with a bunch of other reasons I wasn’t good enough. That’s how I remember it, anyway. That’s how I processed it as a teenager. And events like that formed, layer upon layer to become my recollection of “childhood.”
I remember feeling resentful she wasn’t like the other moms. The ones who didn’t work. The ones who made dinner every night for their kids. And they didn’t mind doing carpool or picking up from friends’ houses. What’s the big deal to grab me from Laura’s, who lives 10 minutes away? Shouldn’t she be happy I’m spending time with friends and having dinner that she doesn’t make me?
I didn’t think about how she was a lonely widow who was in a deep depression. Or that she was working 10 hours a day and the last thing she wanted to do after work was to go ten extra minutes each way to get me. I didn’t think about how she was insecure about her lack of proper English skills to have job security or a support network around her. There was no insight to understand her worries each day about how she would support three kids.
At that age, I didn’t think about anything outside of myself.
Why we should be delicate with our teens
In our adolescent years, we lack the capacity for higher-level emotional intelligence because our brains don’t develop fully until our 20s. Some kids achieve this development quicker than others. But in general, it comes later. Teens process information with less logic than adults. That simple logic can lead to warped points of view. As parents, we need to be more sensitive with our reactions and our words.
Don’t get me wrong; my childhood was rough. And my mom will be the first to admit she made many mistakes. But, as an adult, I have a broader perspective than I did during those moments with my mom in the car from Laura’s house.
What to do when your teens were abducted by aliens
So, the next time you are having an issue with your teen where you’re feeling angry and disrespected, bite your tongue. Wait until later to let them know their behavior hurt your feelings. And when you do, explain it in the perspective of how it made you feel versus what they should be doing. Kind of like we try to do with our spouses. Ha!
I’ve been making a big effort to do this, but it’s awkward. We aren’t having hallmark moments where I get the response I wish for at the end. There is a wall up, and it’s hard to get in. But I have to remind myself that it’s not about my needs when it comes to our kids. Right now it’s about the layers making up the childhood foundation from their perspective, not ours.
I’m going to be at Fort Knox for a while. I hope one day I get back closer to Disneyland. Gotta keep our dreams alive! If you can relate, please share or pin this post and leave a comment! I love hearing from you.
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