Ah, the honeymoon days of childhood, when your child thinks that there’s nothing you can’t do and nothing you don’t know. You’re her biggest hero, and all is well with the world.
Then the teenage years arrive.
Now, your kid thinks that you’re dumber than dirt and grew up in the stone age. You can’t do anything right, you don’t know anything about anything, and the soil outside in the garden has more seeming worth in her eyes than you do. What happened, and what do you do now?
As strange as it may seem, you have seen this before. Remember the “terrible twos”, when every suggestion you made was met with a shouted “NO!”? Psychologically, this is pretty much the same thing; your child is exercising her independence of thought. This isn’t a bad thing, but it can be difficult to deal with.
Try and remember that this is a normal, integral part of growing up. At this point in their lives, teens are beginning the process of separating from their parents and family, and developing their own individuality. They’re not rejecting you, even though it appears that way. They’re striking out on the path of finding their own identities. They’re putting the bricks and mortar into the foundation of their “self”.
Even though it appears as though your children are rejecting you, whatever you do, don’t reject them in return. They need to internalize the fact that you love them, and you love the person they’re becoming, even if the growing pains are hard on you as well as them. Deep inside, your teen knows that he or she still needs you. They might die before admitting it aloud, but they know it just the same. Rejecting or abandoning them now will just teach them that they’re unlovable, and they’ll start building walls instead of foundations.
However – if you child gets truly nasty with you, don’t hesitate to correct that bad behavior. Just because they don’t agree with you – and that’s probably a given – they don’t have the right to treat you with disrespect, curse at you, or become antagonistic. Manners are manners, and they’ll need them later in life, just as they will a healthy self-respect. Remember Thumper’s Mom? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”? Not a bad tenant to teach your child. They’ll thank you for that one later.
Whatever the teenager dishes out, do your best to weather the storms. Stay calm, and hold to the mantra that “this, too, shall pass”. It really will, and you’ll find that your teen has developed into someone you can be proud of.