When teens get upset, they can say things that you may consider to be
a, harassed and imprudent or
b, honest and truthful/have some truth in it.
Either way, they want you to feel as hurt as they feel. Your reaction depends on a lot of things but rarely on your teen herself. Much more on your self-esteem, self-recognition, your relationship with her, your ability to be humble and honest and decent.
However hurtful is what they say, most of the time I go with b,. Because in my experience that is what happens. Many times they surprise themselves with what they say just as much as they surprise me because they haven’t realized their feelings themselves until it’s said out loud. However, in most cases, there is a deep truth in what they say. At least from their point of view.
So the question that determines our parenting is: what are we going to do with it?
12 things that my children say to me
Time to time they put such things into words:
- “You are old-fashioned! You’re too conservative!”
- “You don’t know me!”
- “You don’t see how hard I’m trying!”
- “You give me unsolicited advice all the time!”
- “I’m never good enough for you!”
- “You love my siblings more than me!”
- “You hate me!”
- “You don’t care about me!”
- “You don’t let me live my life the way I want to!”
- “You’re not better than me./I’m just like you!”
- “You give me no good examples.”
- “You are a hypocrite!”
Do you ever get any of these? How do you respond? What do you do with your hurt feelings?
I’m learning to cope with them and improve my reaction and response. Let’s have a closer look at these raids a little more in depth. Why do they say these offensive things? What are the feelings behind those words? And what can we do about them?
“You are old-fashioned! You’re too conservative!”
Yes. I am. And I am proud of it!
Deep within I hope that by the time you are considered to be an adult, you’ll be conservative too. If standing for core values and principles means being conservative. I know you’re looking for these in different places at this stage of your life, and you believe you’ve found them elsewhere than we taught you. So this difference makes me conservative, but I can live with that. Remember this: when the day comes, and you find back to the ultimate resource of Life, I will be there, and happy for you. That day you will become a conservative too. And I will be even more proud of you than today.
“You don’t know me!”
Maybe. Maybe you change much faster than I can catch up with you. That’s fine.
The problem is that you don’t help me to get to know you! You’re embracing the fact that you are big enough to have secrets, and you don’t tell me everything anymore. I have no problem with that. And thank you for still sharing all the important things and your interests with me! But you can’t blame me for not knowing you when you are the one who hides. I’m right here, prepared to listen whenever you feel ready to tell me everything again. Not knowing you the way I used to when you were little, doesn’t make me less being your mother. It feels respectful to give you the space you desire. And you know what? I know you better than you think!
“You don’t see how hard I’m trying!”
Maybe. Maybe you can’t effectively show how hard you are trying. Maybe in your heart and mind you are determined to work hard, but it doesn’t always seem that way. It mostly does when you want something. Then you try palpably hard. When you should do just for me, it’s not powerful enough. You know why? When you want something – like earning back your gadgets – you have a goal to fight for. When you try only because it would be nice to please me, that’s not a goal but a desire. You don’t even expect yourself to perform well, having the preconception that I’d never be satisfied with your attempts anyway. That lowers your trying. So I do see how hard you can work. That’s why I make you set your goals.
“I’m never good enough for you!”
I’m truly sorry if I make you feel that way! I’ve never meant to!
I do have high expectations from you, but only because I know that you are capable of much more than you think. Because I want you to have high hopes for yourself too. You have a vast and impressive potential, you are an incredibly strong and wonderful person, and I want you to use all your talents and gifts. I want you to believe in yourself. So if I expect a lot, it is because I want you to see that in yourself too.
In the future, I will pay more attention to express that you are more than good enough for me! Thank you for letting me know about this deficiency of mine!
“You give me unsolicited advice all the time!”
I’m sorry! I haven’t noticed. I do have an opinion on most things, concerning you too, and I may say things without asking. But please be aware that it is only with the intention of helping you or guiding you. I have a hard time accepting the fact that right now you desire zero guidance. Please bear with me. I can’t give you that, because it is a significant part of my job description as your mom, but we can move on to even less guidance than we already have as soon as you can prove that you lead your life to greatness and gratefulness. On more occasions than I would like to admit, I see something else. So I can’t give up all guidance just yet.
But in the future, I will be more cautious to keep my insights to myself unless you ask for them.
“You love my siblings better than me!”
I couldn’t possibly believe that you mean it. It’s more of harassment. I’m sorry I upset you so much. When thinking clearly, you tell me yourself that you see how much we do for all of you. Yes, we know that loving you equally doesn’t mean we love you the SAME way. It means we love each one of you to fulfill your unique needs. It means you get the treat that YOU need, which is not the same as your brothers’ and sisters’. I know you know this. Maybe it seems sometimes that we love you less just because we love you differently. But I know that you keep a record of all the things we do to express how much we love you. So hurt speaks from you when you say this. And that’s fine. Just please come back to the place where you know better!
“You hate me!”
I know you don’t mean it. I’ve hurt you, and I’m sorry. But I will never hate you! The things I hurt you with are also FOR you. You can’t possibly see it from where you are now, but later you will be thankful for it when observing from a different point of view. I can wait for that. I can live with your anger and hate for some time, but I can’t live with myself if I did this differently. When you become a parent, you’ll understand what I’m talking about right now.
“You don’t care about me!”
You know, it’s exactly the opposite. If I didn’t care, I’d do nothing about it. I’d step back and go on my way, and look back only when it’s convenient for me. But because I do care, I choose the harder way. Although I’d want to be somewhere else because I don’t like this place where you are right now, I’m right here, right with you. Maybe it’s a different way from the one you would want me to care about you, but this is how I’m called to care. Please accept it!
“You don’t let me live my life the way I want to!”
Well, this is a tough one. You want to live your life in a way that’s meaningless. Many people learn this the hard way. Maybe you will do too. However, I must show you another way of living. Actually, several different ways, that you could finally figure out your own life and what’s best for you. The thing is: right now you don’t know what you want. You know what you don’t want. And that’s a huge difference. So as soon as you know what you want and find your bottom line, I’ll let you go. Until then let me show you how meaningful and precious life can be.
“You’re not better than me./I’m just like you!”
That’s so true. In many ways. Yet it scratches only the surface. We are just alike yet so different.
You see, I don’t want to be better than you. I want you to be better than me! I know that life’s nature is that children hold a mirror to their parents, and they show us what we’re like, and it’s so worth it. This makes us want to get better every day. But please don’t use my flaws as an excuse for your own mistakes and poor decisions. If you do, that will prevent you from becoming more and better. Being like me shouldn’t be an excuse, this should be a motivation to work more on yourself, knowing that you can do better than me. I keep working on myself too, so one day we both could be proud of our similarities.
“You give me no good examples.”
Yes, I know, and I’m sorry. I have made my own mistakes in my life that are settled as examples for you. But please don’t follow! Especially that you do know that these are the not-to-follow schemes. My mistakes don’t define you. I want you to know and believe that you have the power to take a different route! If you are determined and purposeful, you can turn your back on your negative inheritance. You can choose to take only the positive and build a new from scratch for the rest. You can do this! I wish I’d known this when starting my life with all those heavy pieces of luggage. I wouldn’t have carried them all along. But no one told me I could get rid of them. Please, select and take only the good! Then you will have an amazing life.
“You are a hypocrite!”
Auch! Wow! That sounds far worse than what you mean. In a world of black and white, you might call it that. But you know already that the world is not black and white! Hypocrisy is a very dangerous thing and I’ve been avoiding it intentionally all my life because I’ve seen a lot of it. Much more than a growing-up ultra-sensible spirit should ever see. (Being a pastor’s daughter has some awful disadvantages.)
The thing you call hypocrisy is actually humanness. I’m not flawless, very-very far from it. I make my own mistakes, and maybe those mistakes are even inconsistent and confusing, and hurtful and make me look like a hypocrite. But because I face them, acknowledge them, apologize for them, and work hard on changing, I don’t consider myself a hypocrite. I don’t pretend to be good, I never intend to let people build misconceptions about me, especially not my own children. I’m sorry that sometimes I’m so controversial that you think of me as a hypocrite. I’ll keep harder aligning, I promise.
The one thing you should know: no matter what, I love you with all my heart, and nothing is ever going to change that!
Dear Mom, who read this and struggle how to parent your teen well. You are not alone! Be encouraged! Love, understanding and accepting. That’s all you need!
For encouragement and advice check out my board on Pinterest about Parenting teens!
Have a nice day! 🙂