“I Hate You!” Parenting Teens

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of having your child mad at you. This precious being that you have devoted your life to and love more than they can comprehend, glares at you like you’re an evil sorcerer who has cast a spell of unhappiness upon them. Then the door slams and you’re left standing there asking yourself what happened. Didn’t you make yourself clear? Was there a better way to communicate, “The trashcans must be brought up from the curb as soon as you get home from school?” Or “Please clean your room by 4:oo pm.” Or “It is your responsibility to do and turn in all homework assignments.” So when these rules aren’t followed, there’s a consequence and somehow it always comes as a surprise. How dare I keep my word and follow through with what I said. This leaves me baffled. Was there a time when I was inconsistent and didn’t follow through with a consequence when a rule was broken? Did they think I wouldn’t notice the trashcans or the messy room?

Still the questioning, emptiness is there when I’m on the receiving end of a deadly glare. Even if I know I’m right and it’s my job as a parent to help my children learn how to be disciplined and responsible. Thank goodness for that old T.V. commercial where the parents practiced slamming a door in each others faces while screaming, “I hate you!” Be the parent the commercial stated-or something like that. Every time a door slams in our house, I remember the commercial. I’m not torturing my teen-I’m being the parent.

There was a time when I was very scared to have teens in my house. I’d look at my children when they were little and try to picture them in middle school or high school. I couldn’t do it. It felt as if it would be forever until they got that big. I was wrong. My son’s voice is deeper than my husbands and when he lounges in our Lazy Boy his legs drape off the sides and I am left staring at the size of his sneakers. Parenting is different. I have two budding adults and little time left to teach them how to be the happiest, most content people they can be. All the while still trying to learn how to be the best person I can be.

I took my teens to a Get Motivated seminar because I wanted them to hear speeches of individuals considered to have had significant leadership success in their life. General Colin Powell surprised me with having a great sense of humor and the ability to laugh at himself. He joked about missing his jet. He would walk the red carpet and wave to everyone as he boarded, someone would serve him a Diet Coke on a silver tray and as soon as the soda hit the table, the jet would take off. If that’s not an ego rush, I don’t know what is. And it was refreshing to see a man who held the positions of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State tell of how his wife was not all that excited when he retired and was not going to be getting up and going off to work every day. Or to hear him talk about trying to learn how to communicate with his sixteen year old grandson in a world of Facebook and Twitter. “Why is it called tweets and not twits?” General Powell refused to get a Facebook account until his grandson told him someone had set one up for him and he already had thousands of friends. Well, then it was okay, he joked. “Just because you possess a title doesn’t mean that you obtain the respect of those around you. True leaders gather a following through vision, determination, wisdom, expertise, compassion, and integrity.” General Powell.

As a parent, I am a leader responsible for the lives of two individuals. Even if they glare at me, slam doors or go for a day without speaking to me, it is my job as their leader to help them learn skills such as effort and self-discipline. I am not their best friend that title belongs to their peers. I am someone they can always count on for support and guidance. It is my job to learn how to set and enforce rules and still have the respect of my children. The great thing about teens is that you can talk to them like adults, explain your point of view and listen to theirs. Listening is key. One of my favorite times of day is after my kids get home from school. I make myself available to sit and listen to them talk about their day. As they talk, I am so thankful to have the time with them and I am constantly amazed at the incredible people they have already become. I wonder how I could have ever been scared to have teens in my house. They’re so much fun! And they can carry a lot of grocery bags. I no longer have to make several trips to the car. Bonus!

The message I heard most clearly from General Powell and the other speakers was that leaders know they are human. They have experienced failure and success. They question themselves and question others with opposing views before making a decision. They do not see themselves as dictators imposing rules because it supports an egoistic need. They see themselves as public servants. They have a vision and pursue that vision with great determination but never forget that those they are leading are valuable individuals that must be listened to and respected.

Feeling the uneasiness when my children are upset with me means I’m human and I’m questioning my parenting ability. As hard as it is to say “no” or take away a cell phone or video game, it is my job as a parent to help my children understand that there are consequences in life when rules are broken. Better it be a video game or a cell phone than a jail cell.
K.D. Rausin


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Reviews of Children's Board Books, Picture Books, Activity Books, and Graphic Novels

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