Friday, September 10, 2010

What did they do with their big people’s pants?

Lately, it seems that all people in grade 8 to grade 12 are in a constant stage of angst...blame it on TV, school friends, the internet-whatever...but the issue remains that these kids are one confused and pained bunch of people.  Some of my children’s friends are being dragged around the adult arena of messy divorce.  What gets me really angry is a small group of parents that choose to pull their teens into their emotional wars.  What did they do with their big people’s pants?  Take them off at the door in exchange for low cut skinny jeans and a rotten attitude?  

We have friends who are going through divorce, and it ain’t pretty-divorce never is.  But what makes it a thousand shades uglier, is the parents who use their kids as part of their battle plan.  Some parents appear to be so emotionally needy that they think it is a good thing to have their 15-year-old daughter as a sounding board and go between.  I suppose letting the kids watch season after season of ‘One Tree Hill’ did pay off, huh, mom?  One kid is so confused and angry that she asked my why adults think it’s OK to do this-to tell her all their marriage problems, and not expect her to be freaked out...what could I say?  “Your parents are idiots”?  Well, yes, I suppose I could have, but instead, I slipped into social worker mode and helped her find comfortable ways to tell her parents to back off and seek counselling for their family. 

Parents are to teach, discipline, love, provide; we are the ones who will help shape the adult that kid turns out to be. If we are parents of faith-we must teach that too, not keep it on the shelf only to yank down in desperate measures as a form of rebuke...can you imagine Jesus doing that? ... “It says here that you are to obey me-no matter what, or you are an evil person who will rot in a cold, dark, ya...go to your room and don’t bug me or talk about this nonsense to me again.”...Not a chance.

Some of us try to be friends with our kids—and we just can’t do that.  Not if we love them and want to do the best we can for them.  I asked some friends 2 years ago what they thought of ‘being friends’ with their kids, and they were all for it!  They said it was better than the ‘sterile’ way they were brought up; no deep conversations, just a ‘do as I say’ thing or I will beat you.  They hated the fact that they could not talk to their parents about feelings, love, sex, friends...because their parents only wanted duty from their kids, not conversation.  Okay, I get that-it is a sterile way of growing up, but taking it to the opposite extreme has proven, for some of my friends, to be a huge problem.  Two years later--their kids are in control, and my friends are scared of them.  Scared of your own kids?  Whoa-time to regroup here!  Easier said than done, however...these 14 to 18 year olds swear at their parents, tell their parents what they are going to do and when their parents can pick them up...they get drunk, stoned, arrested—and blame everybody and anybody else for their troubles.  And their parents are right there, making sure that they have the newest Xbox game set up for the kids so they can chill out after such a stressful event. 

Many people, and many parents, moan that kids today have no respect for anyone.  That’s a fact, Jack.   In my humble opinion-kids cannot learn what we never taught.  If we let them make a mess, and clean it up ourselves after hours of yelling empty threats-we have taught them that we do not respect ourselves or our role as their parent (remember? The ones that teach and guides them?)  If we constantly make excuses for homework not done, or assignments that were never handed in, or defend their rude disrespectful comments to authority as their right to ‘express their feelings’...I think we have taught them that they can get away with laziness; that responsibility is something for someone else to care about, and that we are a pushovers that find it quiet acceptable to tell off someone in charge.  Why do we think they do it to us?

I honestly realize how easy it is to write all this stuff-and how bloody difficult it is to really practice what I just yelled off my proverbial soap box...We have a 15 year old daughter, and a 14 year old son.  I am the type of person who can see all sides to a story, am empathic and compassionate.  All nice things to be, but I can easily lose sight of the desired goal (effective parenting and respectful kids) pretty darned quick when hubby, the kids, and I get into heated discussions.  I start worrying when I see that someone took something said to them as a slam, and then go straight to p*ssed-off when I see that the speaker of said perceived slam couldn’t give a rip about how it was taken.   I’m like a flower child on steroids...but I digress-the point I am trying to make is that even though I spout a few words of common sense, our own kids have done much of the stuff I mentioned earlier.  However, there are few repeat performances, and there is lots of communication.  I think that hubby and I have learned (and are still learning) to balance discipline with respect; respect for them and ourselves.  All kids are going to push their limits, that’s a given.  And we all learn as we go.  I strongly feel that being our kid’s friend at this stage of the game does more harm than good.  My friend worries that it’s too late to help her child-she worries that he is too far-gone and they feel pretty helpless.  I don’t think that it is ever too late to change the game plan...Einstein said that the definition for insanity is expecting different results when you keep doing the same thing.  Love is strong enough to overcome fear, and love will keep us strong enough to get us through the hell of the teenage years.  What are your experiences/thoughts with this?

Is there any such thing as parental angst? ;) 

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