Monday, May 18, 2015

Teenagers (Need I Say More?)

Life just doesn't seem to get any easier.

I don't really need to go into specifics.  If you have children you know what I mean.  And if you say your teenagers never give you trouble, you're either lying to me or lying to yourself.

I'm not talking about big problems, like drugs or criminal behavior.  I just mean that every kid ever born will refuse to do something they're supposed to do, or they'll try to get away with something they know they shouldn't do.  It's just the nature of the beast.  And have you ever met a teenager who didn't think they were smarter than the idiots who are raising them?

For 25 years I've been raising one teenager or another.  I've heard it all.  The excuses.  The half-truths.  The outright lies.  The blame.

Oh, dear God, the blame.

Today I was trying to address an issue with my 16-year-old granddaughter.  I thought I'd try something a little different since my attempts to hand down "consequences" weren't working.  I decided to ask her what she thought her punishment should be, not because I had any intention of allowing her to dictate the consequences of her own wrong behavior but rather to make her feel like she's part of the process.  I would still be the final authority, but I figured maybe if she felt "heard" by me she would be a little more compliant.

How wrong I was.

It began with her saying she didn't think she should be punished at all.  Then she started with the excuses.  I tried to calmly explain why I felt the excuses weren't really reasons, and why she needed consequences to prevent this behavior from recurring repeatedly.  Pretty soon we were both raising our voices.  Then I was yelling.

Then it was all my fault.

I punish her for everything.  I yell all the time.  My life sucks.  (That one is true.)  I don't praise her when she does something right.  I don't listen to her.  And it went on from there.

I've been hearing about my lack of praise and my constant criticism for years. Nothing anyone does is ever good enough for me, the Queen of High Standards.  I can't prove otherwise because I don't have decades of voice recordings backing me up.  Besides, it all comes down to perception anyway.
I'm not perfect.  I wish I'd had a higher sense of self-worth so that I could have raised children with endless amounts of confidence and self-esteem.  I regret any time I ever said anything that hurt my children.  But I'm human.  I came into this job with lots of baggage and my own hurt feelings.  I'm tired.  I'm stressed.  I'm old.  I've been doing this job for a very long time. And I could use a break.

But I won't get one.  Not until the younger granddaughter becomes an adult nearly a decade from now.

If I live that long.

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