Sometimes they need to fight with you.
We know this to be true, the teenage years are a time of intense growth and inner turmoil. It’s a time when the teenage body and mind are changing at a speed in which our children can’t keep up, and in a way they don’t understand.
With this onslaught of hormonal changes, uncensored thoughts and raw emotions can (and do) erupt from the teen in a myriad of ways – frustration, sadness, annoyance – and these emotions are often fired directly at their parents.
As the mother of a soon-to-be teen, I can see the writing on the wall, when I speak, eyes are rolled, when I offer advice, I am shut-down. And so it goes on.
I understand that as parents we often feel hurt and unsure about the changing nature of the relationship we have with our growing children. It’s difficult to adjust to the knowledge that where our help and guidance was once valued, it now seems that the most simple of conversations dissolve into a disagreement.
Yet despite this common (and it is common) display of disdain and disrespect , it is worth asking the question, what do teenagers really think of their parents?
It’s a question I asked my daughter, to which her candid response surprised me.
“I don’t think you’re ignorant Mum, but things are different for me than they were for you, I’m different to you. Sometimes I want to fast-forward life and be a grown-up like you, and other times I don’t know how I can learn everything I need to learn before I’m an adult… I fight with you because I’m so frustrated. I fight with you because I can… I love you”.
So from teens to parents everywhere, in the words of one child:
- I don’t think you are naïve or ignorant about my life as a teen, but I am different to you, as you were to your parents, and I need to challenge and explore those differences.
- Sometimes I want to be an adult. Sometimes I want to be a child. Sometimes when you want you to take care of me and offer advice, I resist, I roll my eyes, I pretend not to care, I pretend not to need it. But please don’t let my sullen demeanour fool you, I am listening to what you say, and it matters that you say it. But I’m oscillating between wanting to be an adult and a child, and you’ll see the signs of this struggle in my eye rolling and wild temper.
- I need to fight with you: While I struggle to find my place in this world, while I search for the boundary edges of what I can and can’t do, sometimes I can only find them while testing you.
- I’m on a wild ride, but you are the one constant in my life: I have no idea what’s going on in maths, I don’t understand how one day my friends love me and yet the next they don’t even see me. I worry about my body, am I too this and not enough that. I want to be liked and yet I don’t even know who I am. But in amongst this chaos, my home is my sanctuary, where I know I am loved and safe.
- I do love you. I don’t often say it, and I don’t always feel it, but I always know it – I love you. So please bear while I struggle through.
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