Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Teen Angel (Not!)

My friend with a PhD in neurobiology tells me that there is an evolutionary reason for teen girls to hate their families - it helps them to move out and start making their own families. Scary thoughts of teen pregnancies aside, I think she was trying to reassure me that Anna's evident dislike of anything remotely connected with any of us is a natural occurrence and not my fault. But if (evolutionarily speaking) 13 or 14 year-old girls are supposed to leave the family nest, wouldn't it make sense that their brains not evaporate into thin air at this precise point in their lives? Sending Anna out on her own (and believe me, I've fantasized about it) would be like sending a 2-year-old into the world to make her own way. Rachel, at 5, is more street-smart than her sister.

Can you guess it's been a rough couple of days? Her best friend went away for a week, plus we didn't have time to take her clothes shopping this past weekend; so now we're bearing the brunt of her angst. I am so tired of her scaring the younger children. The tantrums do get rather boring after a year, you know. Yes, honey, you hate us. Now shut up, wash the dishes, do your schoolwork and think about going away to college, okay? Thanks. And you're right, we don't understand you - but would it help if we did?

And any of you who are getting ready to recommend How to Talk So Your Teen Will Listen or any other books of that ilk, forget it. The more we let Anna "express her feelings," the worse she got. Learning to grin and bear it is an important life skill, if you ask me. I've checked with several experienced parents of large families, and they agree that the no-nonsense, "get over yourself" method of parenting is the healthiest. This may be why the larger the family, the fewer the problems. To have diagnosed complex behavioral issues among your offspring, you need to have few enough kids that you have time to obsess over them.

Hoo, boy - I'm going to get an earful over that last statement. Hey, don't listen to me - listen to a guy who has adopted 10 kids, most of them with labels out their wazoos (I don't know what that means, either). Go to www.drray.com - the funniest parenting professional you could hope to meet. Enjoy some of his audio bits. From this page, for example -

http://www.drray.com/kidbits.htm

I've got to get back to benignly neglecting my children.

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15 comments:

  1. Kathy/Lessons from the LaundryOctober 03, 2007

    Yeah, I'm a big fan of the "get over yourself" attitude. Oh and the "life is not fair" doctrine. And don't forget the "you'll thank me when you're older" policy. Good luck!

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  2. You know what? You come right over here and I'm going to give you a huge hug. It's just really hard not to take it personally when your daughter is actively hating you. Here, have some ice cream. Or wine. Or whatever will help you get through this horrible phase so she can move out, go to college, get a job, get married, have her own children and you will have your revenge. Here's a butterscotch.

    Listen, in three years when MY Ana stats going through all this, will you make me the same offer?

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  3. No problem...and, yes, I'd love a butterscotch.

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  4. How 'bout just a scotch, skip the butter? Just a suggestion.

    I see nothing wrong with that statement. One of the first questions I was asked by the woman who will be evaluating Nicholas was if I had older children (ie, do I have a basis for comparison). I suspect lots of people are requesting speech evaluations because their friend's 18-month-old knows two more words than theirs. (This is not to say speech evaluation isn't necessary at times, just...well, you know what I'm saying.) I assured her I was anything but an alarmist. Like I have time to go looking for problems? And I only have TWO kids.

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  5. All teenagers should be forced to work in the mines of Moriah until they are of legal age. And hobbits, until they are 300.

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  6. Now, why didn't I think of that? Grundir, maybe you have a future in child development.

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  7. Always told my oldest I wanted NO DRAMA QUEENS in our house. If what she was saying or doing was even starting to hinge on drama I told I didn't want to hear it. :) She is 16 now and my 'youngest' is 11 1/2 and although would be prone to the drama as well, already knows not to waste her breath.

    LOL.

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  8. Boy, I've been there. It hurt my feelings most of all and makes you doubt yourself. We told my daughter that we wanted her to talk to a counselor. Didn't like that too well. Following some advice, I had my husband take over as main disciplinarian, not me. While it was hard for me to shut my mouth, this helped me - I was out of the fray - and him - he understood better how I was getting treated. He took a lot less crap than I did. Found out she had a problem with depression and she needed to understand and recognize that about herself. Four years later...we are pretty good. No, really good. Somewhere underneath it all, she loves you.

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  9. My current teen is a boy. Passive hater, hole up in his room kind of stuff. Although my favorite 'teen moment' so far is when he announced that he could no longer trust us to make decidions that were in his best interest! After him I have 5 girls in a row, that will fun!

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  10. Oh Lord - there is no "talking" to teenagers. They can't listen to anything but the voice of entitlement that sounds in their pea brains. I find that a couple of glasses of wine? Muffles the whine. Hugs to you - hang in there.

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  11. best of luck with her. When my daughter becomes unbearable I do hope we live by some adults that I can trust-it seems teenage girls always like their friends parents, or the cool youth leader at their church. I hope that happens for us so we can secretly hear from a second party that on some days and in some situations she is normal and polite. I feel for you-hang in there!

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  12. Hang in there! I agree with you!

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  13. I absolutely love "get over yourself parenting"! The roll your eyes and walk away works both ways, you know! When I do that, she pretty much knows that I am not buying her "woe is me" routine.

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  14. I love hearing about Anna because it both reminds me of the days when I was a teen... and prepares me for the days, not too far ahead - in fact, sometimes I think I'm already there - when my 10-year-old hits the teen years. Do you remember when we used to think diapers were so hard? Ha!

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  15. I make my children recite the mantra "life is not fair" when they start their crap with me. It's true and the sooner they learn that, the better. Of course, I still get the eye-rolling and attitude.

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