Thursday, August 30, 2007

Communicating With Our Teens

My first response to Sunshine's post about Shockers, was to laugh. I knew what it was. I have survived "the teens" with my two children.

As I read the comments, I realized most that were shocked by the whole thing, (pun intended) were parents of young children. My lack of shock (hey, I'll take a cheap pun twice) as a parent with older children, was only because the teen years will bring you a whole new appreciation for 2AM feedings vs 2AM worries of where is my kid. Of "O'de Puke" vs "O'dat Smoke?" ... and creeping around in an ExerSaucer vs seeing them drive away in a car.

I took a mini poll at work because we all have grown kids, no little ones. The shocker, the bird, the devil horns ... ruining class photos, was pretty much a shoulder shrug. It isn't right by no means, but teens do dumb things. Actually two of the guys I work with thought any photographer that is hired by a school, high school especially, should be responsible for what he sees in his view finder.

As a parent of older kids, coming out of the teen years with enough stories to write for a month, my take is more like this:

Teens are going to make poor choices no matter how strong we build their foundations ... sadly that's just how it is. As a parent I learned to pick my battles. I am not going to win every one, so I better save the big guns for the ones that really matter in the scheme of things. If we fight every little blip on our kids screen of growing up, they will tune parents out completely, never to hear the words and lessons that are nonnegotiable.

Most kids are smart, they know the things we as parents expect and what has been instilled in them. It's natural for them to remove their water wings and dive into the abyss of rebellion. Didn't you do things your parents disapproved of? Sure, we all did, and when we did it, we knew it was wrong.

I can see my kids coming full circle. It's the foundation we built in the beginning that we can only hope they come back to once they grow up and become humans again. ( I am not sure what the are between the 13-18, high school years) I have overheard both my kids talking to friends on different controversial topics. I have to stop and smile when I hear them quote me or their father word for word to defend their point.

Jen at Get In The Car, had a great post yesterday about her and her husbands views on how they will raise their kids ... before they had any. It's worth the read, we all can relate.

Beth and Lori, you've raised teens, any pearls of wisdom?

I leave you with this photo most have probably seen and thought nothing of ... until now.


Terri said...

great post nancy. I myself was one of those parents who was "shocked" at Sonia's description of that hand gesture! My kids are 9, 12, 14 and luckily pretty good so far. I love reading posts like this with advice I know I'm going to be needing. Thanks!

Nancy said...

Terri: Thank you.

Before I had kids, I knew I was going to have "no problems" because I had it all sorted out how to raise them, ya right.

Now I surf the net looking for blogs that post about young adult kids starting careers, falling in love, etc ... in hopes to open my eyes of what's ahead.

Robin said...

I admit I'd never heard of the Shocker until now, but truthfully, it sounds more like a pick your battles kind of issue. Making a gesture like that, while yes, inappropriate for a school picture, is hardly akin to some of the things teens try out. I think a public apology and being benched for the one game would be more than sufficient.

As a parent? I'd have a long talk with my son about the need to treat girls (and everyone) respectfully, but I think it would end with a silent prayer of thanks by me that that was the worst thing they'd done. A gesture. Not an actual sexual act, consensual, or worse, not, but a gesture. A symbol.

Personally, I got up to an awful lot worse as a teen and lived to tell the tale. Heck, I even lived to blog about it and about how my parents handled the whole thing in my "No Market For Used Teenagers" post.

Teens WILL pull stunts like this. What really matters is what core values you instill in them along the way, so that they have that moral touchstone deep inside to prevent them doing the truly awful things, and to help them find their way back when they return to their senses.

Excellent post Nancy.

deb said...

hell just cut off their fingers and be done with it.

There that made me feel good lol

Nancy said...

Robin: Amen!

deb: lol, but then how would they pick their noses?

Gnightgirl said...

Pearls of wisdom, huh? I may have to counter-post (I'm still thinking up my 5 best nights, I'm behind)

Off the cuff, then:

1) Kids are people too; treat them with RESPECT. Can you remember the adults who talked to you like you were "somebody" when you were a kid? And those that didn't? I do.

2) It takes a village. Call on friends and family when they don't want to listen to Mom.

3) When all else fails, remain true to your convictions; teach by example.

And like you said, don't sweat the small stuff.

Great post.

Joan said...

Shocked? ... no. I have a teenager. That hasn't been brought up but I've got sight of some text messages, IM's etc. We've had some long talks about what is appropriate and how other view you by your actions and language. My son has a girlfriend now. What fun.

Mary Alice said...

Not much surprises me anymore. Mine are 17, 15, and 13. I live around a lot of young moms with kids from babies to 3rd grade. It is interesting to listen to them talk about parenting. They fret about who is behind verbally, how quickly or slowly their kids are learning to read, whether the way they hold their pencils indicates dyslexic tendencies. I sit there and think, if I only knew then what I know now, I would have been a lot more relaxed and worried a lot less. Kids go through stages and in general (with lots of love, patience and respect) they all turn out okay.

Nancy said...

Lori : I like and agree with your #1

Joan: Boys seem to be much easier to keep in line, good for you intercepting IM's ... I was the Major Snoop, nothing sacred or private when my kids were in HS.

Mary Alice: Oh boy, isn't hindsight an amusing thing? I should post about what I fretted over when my kids were under 10, it was ridiculous in comparison to the later years.

Biddy said...

i have no kids, but seeing as how it wasn't all that long ago that i was in high school, i would probably shake my head, laugh and tell him to knock it off...

if the suspension lasted longer than one game, i'd definitely have to say something...

my little cousin almost didn't get to graduate because he participated in a food was ridiculous

Anonymous said...

Karin here (can somebody tell me how I can post without doing it as "Anonymous?")--I'm with you, Nancy. I laughed. My son is 27 now and, as a teenager, probably would have been one of the idiots flashing at least some sort of hand sign. They're teens. Often they do idiotic things. They're trying to be cool. And don't "get" the ramifications.

But I believe, too, that if you raise them, BY EXAMPLE, with good values, it will stick. For all the stupid things my son did as a teen, none of them were destructive or intentionally hurtful to anyone else. And believe me, I've asked him, now that he's older. And he answered, honestly. (Even told me some stuff I wish now I didn't know.) But he has grown up to be a kind, considerate, upstanding, hard working young man. Thank God.

So, parents of younger kids, hang in there. They grow up despite themselves and will, very likely, pleasantly surprise you---eventually.

Oh, The Joys said...

Oh, I'm going to be terrible at the teens. I can't even do the 2's and 3's well.

Nancy said...

Karin: We've been there, done that, together, as teens, and separate as parents ... and live to tell, lol

OtJ: But you will, you will do just fine =)

captain corky said...

If my kid is anything like me I'm in trouble with a capitol T! I'm going to try not to think about that right now though. ;)

BOSSY said...

Bossy is always surprised when parents separate themselves away from Teenage Logic because it wasn't that long ago when...

Jami said...

Teenagers aren't always likable people and they aren't always smart but you can count on them to be rebellious. If either one of my kids ruined the picture for the others, regardless of how they did it, that's what they'd get the lecture for: disrespect for others. Not for the actual way they messed it up.

Oh, and Bush's daughter knows exactly what that means, and she also knows that Duhbya doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Karin again--I just had to respond to Oh, the Joys comment: Unless you beat your kids to a pulp, you're doing fine! And you'll continue to do so. Just love them and enjoy them and let them develop at their own pace. By the time they start pulling teenage pranks, no one will remember or CARE that they were potty trained early or late or were "behind" with their small motor skills! My son had a speech problem (a cute little lisp) for which he went to speech class for a few years. I was so upset! But we took care of it, and no one gives a hoot now because they all had their own issues to deal with in elementary school. I can't even remember why I was so upset about it. I guess realizing my child wasn't perfect. Whose is? So give yourself and your kids a break and let them be themselves.

Nancy: Yes, we've been there and done that and lived to tell the tale. And I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. As I recall (some of it's kinda foggy), we had a blast, didn't we? lol

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am completely unprepared for the teenage years. I am freaking just seeing The Princess hit 4th grade!

Let's all say a prayer that Junior Mayhem survives his teen years, both still alive and out of prison! (hee-hee?)

Queen of the Mayhem said...

I am completely unprepared for the teenage years. I am freaking just seeing The Princess hit 4th grade!

Let's all say a prayer that Junior Mayhem survives his teen years, both still alive and out of prison! (hee-hee?)

Pink said...

I plan to avoid the teenage years - never had kids and don't date anyone with kids that aren't grown.

I WAS a teenager. That was enough!


Beth said...

you know what? I have some fantatic kids and it's all due to me!!!! ;)

Really, I think the best advice is to pick your battles. On a scale of 1-10, just how important is it? My big things were sex, drugs and drinking. ok, so you want a tattoo or an ear pierced...big deal. Are you doing good in school? Are you a sincer, compassionate person? Do you ahve integrity? Those things matter so much more than superficial things.

Pick your battles...the rest kind of does itself.

Biddy said...

hi friend! there's a lil somethin somethin on my bloggy for you!

Michael said...

My comment isn't directed at anybody in particular, but I think it's funny that a lot of "adults" expect kids (and their kids in particular) to behave well when they make poor decisions in life. Yes, kids will be kids and do stupid things like flip people off in a school picture, but adults need set the example.