I’ve been parenting a teen boy now for a year and it’s been quite interesting. It’s often a challenge because the struggles seem to make no logical sense. However, it isn’t all bad. During the calm hormonal spells, we are able to have provocative discussions and have a friendly relationship. However when the tide is high, I’m the enemy and all bets are off.
I tried to explain to my younger son why his teen brother behaves the way he does by comparing it to Bruce Banner and the Hulk. I told him that when his teen hormones kick in, he can turn into a rage monster and even he can’t control it. That helped a little with the sibling issues it was creating. It also helped me to accept some of the crazy arguments we were having, such as why he needs a coat in sub-freezing weather or why sweats aren’t appropriate party wear. It’s very hard not to take the fights personally when you feel you’ve been the most loving and understanding parent you could be. But, you have to step back and realize it’s all part of growing and testing their boundaries. They want to be independent but still want to be catered to when it suits them. That makes me crazy since Mr. Know-it-all should certainly be able to remember his chores or give himself a snack. However, that is not what happens. It’s a constant tug-of-war between the things I feel he is mature enough to handle and the things he feels he is mature enough to handle. I want to equip him with life skills and the ability to take responsibility but I also know he’s still a child and needs more guidance than he realizes.
Though these years often leave me missing and romanticizing the sleepless baby and toddler years, it’s not all bad. Though I can’t completely control my teen or drag him around in a stroller to where I want to go, I’m finding new ways to compromise with him. Now, I have to reason with him and maybe bargain about going to a store he likes if he comes to the mall with me. We’re in a new frontier. As much as the love and trust we gave in the early years was critical, this new ability to communicate and compromise will build an important foundation. This will help define our relationship as adults one day. No pressure!
I’m nervously laughing to myself as I write because this is all still a work in progress for me and I could very well fail. But, I think it will be okay. When he’s not in a defiant mood swing, he will cuddle with me and watch movies or ask for a favorite food. We will laugh together at our silliness or he will help his brother with homework. I will hear from his teachers how he is such a wonderful and thoughtful kid. He will open up to me about his thoughts on politics – within the family or the world. He teaches me to throw a football and tries to control his laughter when I can’t get a spin on it. These things give me hope that my wonderful child hasn’t changed but is just going through some growing pains. Though these pains are painful for me as well, these too shall pass.