“If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.” ~ Winnie the Pooh
Hello all and welcome to another edition of Tweens and Teens! Hopefully you’ve been following along each month, but if not, then welcome here. Also, please let Gwen and Shannon know what you think of this blog so that they can give me feedback on how you like it, or click the word “comment” below and post your opinions there. 🙂
Earlier this month, I asked my son what I could write about and he said, “Well you could talk about how Tweens and Teens fall in love with each other.” Uh oh. Could it be? Typically kids make comments like this because it applies to them. My 11-year-old son in love? Nah.
But just in case, let’s talk about Tweens, Teens, and love. We all know that the Tweenage and Teenage years are the time of life when puberty hits. Hormones are raging and physical features become very apparent. I mean, your looks, and the way others look, actually count.
When I was younger, I used a football analogy involving uniforms and helmets. If the girl had a nice body and a pretty face, I would tell my friends, “Good uniform. Good helmet.” Pathetic of me, I know, but true. So where was I…ah yes…This is the time when our kids start taking showers and actually using soap (thank goodness), they are now using deodorant, brushing their teeth (with toothpaste), and chewing gum or an Altoid seems to be especially important. Fresh minty breath, I suppose.
But…and you knew this was coming, there is no free lunch in the game of life. They also want their independence and freedom. If you remember my first article (if not, click HERE to see it), we talked about four reasons kids misbehave using the acronym P.A.I.R. This stands for Power, Attention, Inadequacy, and Revenge. The first article addressed Attention. This one will address Power and Revenge.
When kids want their freedom, it’s usually to be with their friends. This includes girlfriends and boyfriends. They’re learning how to interact with others on their own, and, if you do not allow them that freedom, a power struggle will begin. This includes arguing, yelling, and cursing. And that’s from the parents! The kids, however, are doing this right back to us and we’re now wondering, “Dear God, why did I choose to have children?” After it’s all over, we realize why…Because we love them and feel incomplete without them. But back to our story.
If there’s a power struggle, one of three outcomes occurs: (1) We give in and let them do what they want. If this is the case, the next argument may be even longer because we have taught our kids that if they argue long enough, we will grow so tired of it that we will finally throw in the towel; (2) We win the argument and our child storms off to their room yelling, “That’s not fair! My life sucks!”, or (3) We compromise and all are happy. Typically, the third one does not occur, but you knew that. Compromising does not usually happen in the middle of a war and cooler heads must be available, which they are not.
Assuming that we refuse to give in, which would be outcome #1, the most likely outcome is #2, and our young “sweetie pies” storm off telling us how unfair we are to them and that they cannot wait until they are 18 so that they can move out of this “hellhole”. If they lose enough power struggles, they will try to get revenge. After all, if they can’t beat us fairly, then they will cheat. So…When you hear “That’s not fair”, or anything resembling that comment, you MUST be on the lookout for revenge. This is why kids sneak out of their room or start dating someone that we know is going to jail within 2-3 years.
Kids must be allowed their freedom, but we have to make the boundaries. Having discussions and being proactive is the best way to go. Talk about it before it occurs. This is when cooler heads are present and outcome #3 MAY just be possible.
Remember, wives are teaching their children how a husband should be treated while husbands are teaching their children how a wife should be treated. Also, mothers are teaching their children how a mother should act and fathers are teaching them how a father should act. I know it’s tough, but we must be able to talk, and even negotiate to some degree, with our kids so that they can grow up. This means talking to them instead of yelling and lecturing. It also means letting them spend time with…gulp…someone we know is wrong for them. Hurts just to say it. But they have to make their own mistakes and learn from them.
IF you talk openly, honestly, and respectfully to them, then you will be able to set boundaries that can make your life, and theirs, better. For example, “Parents MUST be in the house when you are with your boyfriend”, or “Friends must be going with you to the mall”.
Although you will ultimately have to allow them to be alone with a boyfriend/girlfriend, you cannot allow them to spend an infinite amount of time without supervision. If you do, you know as well as I do that they will be exploring more territory than Indiana Jones.
So…let them have some freedom, make their own mistakes, and learn how to set boundaries in a manner that is fair and respectful to them. In return, you may find out that they actually respect those boundaries and may even start dating someone that you can live with. Well, you know what I mean.
Till next month…