MEMOS FROM YOUR TEENAGER
Adolescence is a somewhat confusing time and I am experiencing many changes. Many of my behaviors are typical for teenagers. If you can understand some of these changes and can deal with me differently, we can both get through this period of my life without too much difficulty.
I am starting to change and I am not a child anymore. I am becoming a young adult. You will have difficulty "controlling" me like you did when I was a young child. Try to deal with me like you would treat your friends and other adults.
Opposition, resistance, stubbornness, rebellion, and striving for independence are a normal part of adolescence. Don't be upset if I disagree with you and begin expressing attitudes, interests, and opinions which are different from yours. Be more concerned about "how" I tell you things rather than "what" I say.
I have all your lectures on tape in case I want to hear them over and over again. Try to avoid repeating lectures, asking me the same question many times, and nagging. If you do, I will have to protect myself by appearing deaf.
I will often feel that you are old fashioned. You live in the "olden days" when movies were 15 cents, there were only three channels on the TV, and you had to walk 12 miles to get to school. I am tired of hearing "when I was your age". How could you ever understand me and know what is happening in my life?
Don't be upset if I do not talk to you or confide in you as much as I did when I was younger. This is typical for my age.
It seems as if your intelligence has decreased and you're close to being stupid. How could you know what I'm supposed to do? How could I take your advice, directions and suggestions? Bear with me. In a few years I will realize how much you've learned since I was a teenager.
As your intelligence decreases, my knowledge about the world and my intelligence increases. I am close to being a genius. I know just about everything there is to know: The only people who seem to be as smart as I am are my friends and peers.
I would rather be doing things with my friends than with you or the family. Don't become upset when I decline invitations to go out to eat, to go by grandma's house; or to be with you.
It seems as if you have gone through some physical changes. I don't know what they are but something has happened. You embarrass me and sometimes I don't want to be seen with you. I may stop bringing my friends to the house. You may have to drop me off a block from my friend's house or the movies so my peers will not see me with you. In the shopping center I may walk several feet in front or behind you so no one knows you are my parent.
We do not have as many chances to talk as we used to because I am always busy, with my friends, on the phone, or in my room. Because of this, most of the time when you talk to me it centers around my failures, mistakes, what I should do, what I didn't do, and other negative behaviors. During other discussions you're lecturing, trying to teach me something or get a point across - "the value of education", "What responsibility means". Let's talk just to be talking. Try to also talk to me about my successes, accomplishments, achievements, interests and activities.
It seems that little things you do irritate me. Even simple questions, "How was your day", may result in a flip answer. Don't be too upset with me. I'm probably disturbed by something else and I'm taking it out on you. Moodiness is typical for my age.
Many times it may seem as if I have my priorities confused. This is not true. It's just that my friends, the phone, the opposite sex, going out, having fun, and similar activities are more important than unimportant things, such as school work, putting out the garbage, and cleaning my room. It is not that I am lazy, it is just that I have too many other important things to do than work.
At times it appears that you have developed amnesia. You don't remember what it's like being my age. You forgot that you gave me the same lecture last Thursday, two weeks ago, last month, etc. You don't remember that you gave me the same instructions "go clean your room" or asked the same question, "Did you study?" twenty times. You forgot how to shop and cook. There's never anything to eat in the house and I rather eat junk food than what you cook.
Don't become too upset when I mumble under my breath and complain when you ask me to do something. Especially if I'm doing what you requested! I am angry at you for telling me to do something and this is a way to release some of this anger.
Don't use force with me or try to overpower me to get me to do what you want. This teaches me to be aggressive, resentful, and that power is all that counts. It will also make me more resistant, oppositional, and stubborn. This will probably result in me doing the opposite of what you request. I want to be treated more like an adult than a child.
Although I want to be treated like an adult I will often act like a child. Rather than stress this, tell me what I have to do or not do to gain more adult privileges, responsibilities and freedoms.
Avoid getting into power struggles with me. Power struggles usually result in a winner and a loser. You could win almost all the time when I was young. This might not be possible now. Set rules and consequences for my behavior and consistently enforce them in a calm, matter-of-fact manner. Try to compromise. That way we both win.
Try not to overreact to some things I say. Many times I am only saying things to get a rise out of you.
Although it may not seem like it, I need lots of understanding, encouragement, and positive attention. I cannot pat myself on the back and rely heavily upon you to do so.
Treat me the way you treat your friends, then I will be your friend too. Remember, I learn more from a model than a critic.
For information on this and other books by Dr. Fontenelle (Changing Student Behaviors, The Parent's Guide to Solving School Problems, Are you Listening?/Attention Deficit Disorders, Purrfect Parenting, and How to be a Good Parent), contact him at 504-834-6411, 517 N. Causeway Blvd., Metairie, LA 70001. This handout provided as a service by David W. Kidder, Ph.D., Counseling Psychologist, Slidell, LA, 649-2011, www.DrKidder.com