Parenting a teenager is wonderful, challenging, rewarding and frustrating all bundled up together If you’re anything like me, there are days that feel weirdly like a cross between Groundhog Day and a game of Teen Bingo. If you have a teenager, you’ll know where I’m coming from. There are phrases you find yourself repeating time after time…
Suddenly I’m Parenting A Teenager…
Just 6 months ago my gentle, amenable tween hit the magic and much-anticipated 13th birthday. I know I’m lucky that he didn’t morph overnight into a full-blown ‘Kevin and Perry’ teen, like some of his peer group. However, it is true that the raging hormones (you can smell the testosterone dripping off the walls in his bedroom) coupled with the fact that he is now very much a child in a man’s body (6 foot tall with size 11 feet!) has changed him and has changed our family dynamic.
It’s not just fact that the family bathroom reeks of Lynx…
The little boy who always wanted to hold my hand and who would run to wrap his arms around me after school has disappeared. He’s been replaced with a ‘cooler’ version, at least in public.
I still get lots of hugs at home and he even still wants to sit on my knee at times. Just don’t tell his friends!
As the youngest cousin, he was desperate to grow up and join in activities with his older cousins. Being a teenager made him feel he’d joined the club! But, he’s also started to learn that growing up brings responsibilities including chores at home. That realisation has landed like the proverbial lead balloon…
That Stroppy Teen Look
So, while he’s still generally happy about turning 13, there are days when it feels like navigating a minefield with clogs on. He has developed ‘the stroppy teen look’ – you know the one – it’s a cross between the ‘how can you be so incredibly stupid’ ‘how dare you…’ and ‘you actually expect me to do…’ when I ask him something (obviously a stupid move) or ask him to do something (clearly very unreasonable of me). He has learned that there are areas where there is no compromise to be had and I have learned that some things drive him insane.
In particular, he hates it when I ask him how his day at school was or what he did at school. It’s obviously a stupid question which is usually met with much eye rolling. Clearly he can’t possibly be expected to remember what he has done during the day. I’m also ‘not allowed’ to ask for any information about friends. I’ve learned that boys simply don’t care about detail – they like someone or they don’t. Simple
Imagine the fallout when I suggest going to bed before 10pm…quick pass me my bullet-proof vest!
I’m not prepared to dance to a teenager’s tune. Part of parenting a teenager is about helping him learn about responsibilities, personal hygiene (yes, he’s still at the soap-dodger stage) and about negotiation, however, I do want a harmonious home. So, the art of compromise for me is in recognising some of the trigger words that drive him potty. If I’m 100% fair, they drove me crazy when my folks said them to me too. I know I am turning into my parents!
One of my solution to parenting a teen (my teen) is to retain a sense of humour and play Teen Bingo.
It’s not a panacea but it has been brilliant for defusing some awkward moments. The reluctant teen loves pointing to the Teen Bingo chart on the fridge and saying ‘Gotcha Mum’. Most of the time it gives us a moment to laugh, calm down and talk. Talking doesn’t solve everything but it’s a great starting point and a great life lesson too.
How have you navigating those awkward teenager moments? Maybe you play teen bingo too!