Our two children are now in their early adulthood and they seem to be doing pretty well. We now have civil conversations, spend time together sharing similar interests, and occasionally confide in each other on personal matters.
But their teenage years were no picnic. They had rebellious streaks (refusing to attend family outings with the extended family). There were big challenges (trying to convince one of our girls that the boyfriend she was falling for was a very bad influence and would soon disappoint her, which he did). At times, the girls were pains (my other daughter got a citation for sneaking into a drive-in theater, which required that she and both us parents attend intervention classes as part of the penalty.)
As crazy and upsetting as things got with two teens in the house, what really helped me and my wife cope was discovering that we were not alone! We shared these frustrations of raising rebel-agers with neighbors, colleagues, and relatives. Commiserating and trading advice with others got us through those tough years, and like I said, our girls soon enough grew out of that wacky stage of life.
For parents currently experiencing their children’s teenage years, do not despair. The good news is that adolescence is a temporary period. And there is brain development science to help explain what is going on with your kid. The teenage brain is a neurological work in progress, and the way the brain develops during this time may contribute to the type of risk-taking, poor judgment, and rebelliousness we often see during the teen years.
Here is how Bia, one of my colleagues, put it: I was thinking about my daughter’s acting out and nastiness when she was sixteen. The experts are right it is a transitory stage. Both Sarah and I survived unharmed. She is now a wonderful twenty-two-year-old young woman.
So, to recap, here is some basic advice for parents who are having a particularly rocky time with their teens:
Talk about your frustrations! It doesn’t make you a bad parent to vent, and you may even get some good and unexpected tips in the process. Remember, most of your friends with kids the same age as your kid will be able to relate to what you’re dealing with.
Read the other posts on this blog almost all of them offer some good insight into teenage behavior.
Most importantly: hang in there, parents! When you are frustrated with your teenager, remember this principle: Adolescence is a time-limited disorder!