Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Kids Hate Me. Or How To Be Cool.

I saw yet another 'teenagers are surly beasts who can't stand their parents' blog posts and I honest to goodness don't know why that's such a thing.
"If your kids don't tell you they hate you you're doing it wrong."
Are you freakin' kidding me? This is what passes for parenting wisdom?!
I hated my mom because she was abusive, controlling and one of the most selfish people I've ever known. So, what, does that mean she was 'doing it right'?

My kids don't hate me. It's not that we never argue but odds are it's about big stuff like political philosophies or our positions on euthanasia. They may not like everything I do but they certainly don't seem to dislike me.

I am an explainer not a punisher. From the time they were knee high to a grasshopper I explained in detail about why we had the rules we had and why they shouldn't do certain things. The phrase 'because I said so' has never been a thing in our house.
"But I don't want to have to explain everything. They should just listen."
Let me let you in on a little secret. If they learn at a young age that you always have a well thought out reason for saying 'no', they don't fight with you about it when they're teens. For reals. Ask my 24 year old or 17 year old. They'll back me up on this. If you don't have well thought out reasons? I'm afraid I can't help you there. Treat them like people and not possessions to be controlled and it makes a HUGE difference.
"So, you're raising brats then?"
Um, not even close. People like my kids. My kids will open doors for you. They'd give you the money in their pockets if you needed it. Or fix your computer. My son actually runs into a problem on occasion where people assume he must be putting them on ( Eddie Haskell style) because a teen who uses 'sir' or 'ma'am' can't possibly be for real. *eyeroll*

My son was getting ready to head out the door for school as I was writing the above. I told him what I was doing and he said that he has a few friends who like their parents just fine so he's not sure why this 'hate the parents' business is such a thing, either.

If you're struggling with your teen(s) I have no idea how to help with that. I think family dynamics are created while they're young so I'm not sure how one goes about fixing them later on. Every day is a chance to start fresh but it may take a bit of time for them to trust that changes are happening.

Then there's the subject of 'cool parents'. I'm not talking about the 'buy them beer - buy them cigs - hey honey you're only 16 but let's get matching tattoos' type of  'cool parents'.
I'm talking about the 'your kids aren't embarrassed for their friends to meet you' type of 'cool parents'. It's attainable. Really. The secret is to pay attention to everything they say. Even when you don't understand what they're on about. Especially when you don't understand what they're on about. Not only do you learn about your kid but it shows them that you value them enough to want to know about what's important to them. And for the love of all that is holy, do not make pop culture references that you do not understand. The whole Pathetic Parent Who Is Trying Too Hard To Be Cool routine is just painful and will ensure that your child will avoid you like the plague. When your kids truly think you are cool you won't be able to embarrass them even when you try. I once told a guy that my 14 year old thought he was dreamy, right in front of her, and she just laughed her ass off. On the flip side, it is verymuchuncool to pull that same trick in front of a boy that she really likes. Know. The. Difference.

It's possible to be the authority and the friend. Your kids are people. If you treat them like human beings with rights and responsibilities they will respect you.

And talk to you. And eat dinner with you. And introduce you to their friends.

And laugh hysterically with you while preparing to get married.

Photo Credit: Jane Sandelman

*image is of a light skinned young woman with dark hair, holding a bouquet of flowers and wearing a wedding dress while laughing along with an older light skinned woman with dark hair holding a smaller bouquet wearing a garnet colored patterned dress while laughing.

1 comment:

  1. Yes yes yes!! I've always been an explainer too. It makes all the difference in the world. It also made a huge difference when I was a C/O. I love that my boys can talk to me about anything and everything. This is so spot on!


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