Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pah-leeese.. no lecture!

A great Zits comic:
Jeremy: My history teacher is ridiculous. He expects us to remember all this random stuff from a long time ago! Why can't he just teach us history like he' supposed to?
Mom: But isn't-
Jeremy: Don't question my logic, mom. Just say "Poor baby!"

I love this "conversation"! I am sure this takes place in your household at least once a day. Your teen says something provocative, narcissistic, naive, unrealistic... and thinking that you need to "set them straight" you respond with a lecture about why what they have said is narcissistic, naive, unrealistic....I worked with a couple recently who were getting hooked into these conversations so regularly that their relationship with their son was going down the toilet. They were frustrated with his inability to be realistic, and he was frustrated with their inability to understand him. The son would regularly pronounce plans about what he would do "when her grew up", or taunt his parents political views or accuse them of being hypocrites about their lifestyle.  This teen is 15 year old. Honestly I don't remember exactly what it was he wanted to do, but it was of the following variety :
Teen: I want to be a rock star!
Parent:  How can you be a rock star if you don't play the guitar, can't sing, and hate to practice or put time into anything?
Teen: Details, details.

Adolescence is all about fantasy. It is about now seeing the possibilities of life. It is all about idealism, and unrealistic expectations. For the first time in their lives they are thinking with a new brain that literally floods them with endless thoughts, ideas, and plans, most of which will be naturally discarded as they experience life. They actually don't need your "realism" cause truly they will find out for themselves from living life, experiencing disappointment and disillusionment when real life does not imitate their fantasy life. In some ways teens are playing the "dress-up" games of early childhood. They are metaphorically trying on those cowboy or princess costumes. They eventually outgrow the "game", and get on with life. You don't need to be worried or feel the need to tell them how it really is. They will figure it out on their own. Your job is just to say; " Yeah, I get how much fun that would be", or "great goal, let me know how I can help," or I'm not sure I agree, but I understand why you would think that." Your kids are just thinking out loud.The edit button is not firmly in place yet.  Most of us have silly things in our head, or fantasies about winning the lottery or the publishers clearing house, but we keep those thoughts to ourselves otherwise people would think we are nuts! If you don't give them the room and the opportunity to speak up about it free of judgement and criticism, you run the risk of shutting them down completely. Eventually, they will ask for your help and your opinion, and will value it because you have allowed them first to give voice to their own thoughts.  Your teen is playing out all the options and choices he/she will have to make over the next 10 years. The operative word is play. You don't "show" them how to finish a puzzle, you just give them the pieces and let them figure it out!

1 comment:

  1. Letting them figure it out on their own is defintely a parent's hardest but most important job...once again, Joanie...great advice on another "I get it" moment and "not sure I agree but understand why you would think that/where you're coming from". I always try to keep those words in my head to keep conversations open. :)