Often after my seminars, parents come up to give me a personal greeting. Sometimes I meet parents who have been repeat attenders of my seminar. ( I love that). They tell me that after their first seminar with me they left breathing a sigh of relief. Their kid may have only been 11 or 12, and most of what I said did not apply yet to their relationship with their teen. They report leaving the seminar thinking, oh good, I think we've dodged that teen bullet, our teen doesn't behave at all like Joani said. We must be doing one helluva job!!! Little did they know, that a year or two later, once again sitting in the audience of another of my seminars they would nod their head in agreement and wonder whether I lived in their house as my descriptions of the teen behaviors rang so very true.....now.
I think one of the hardest changes that parents experience with their teen is the abrupt change in their teens behavior towards them. Their teen literally goes from being open and loving one day, to cold and secretive literally the next day. Parents feel puzzled by this, questioning what they might have done wrong to ellicit this change. Answer: nothing.
Apparently your teen got the new memo, if you are acting nice to your parents, then stop. It is unseemly for teens to be nice to the "enemy. " Maybe your teen was sitting in the cafeteria, or on the bus, and a bunch of kids were slamming their parents..."man I hate my parents, they never let me do anything." Or maybe, "my parents are so nosy, always looking over my shoulder when I'm on the computer, they are such a pain!" So there your teen is, listening, and wondering, "gee I get along good with my parents, is that bad? And BAM they come home and practice being a "teen." So that may be one explanation.
Here is another. One of the major tasks of adolescence is separation/individuation. The work of developing a personal identity means stepping back from the people who have been the closest and most influential in their lives. How am I like my parents? How am I different from my parents? Where am I in all this? Unfortunately these questions are not consciously being asked in that teen brain of theirs. Instead this new brain is giving them new thoughts they have never thought before. "God my parents are so annoying, I hate the way they dress, eat, talk, think, ask so many questions etc." The truth is, it isn't really about you, it is more the process by which they are trying to figure out what they think, and what they feel. And for all of his/her life they have kind of depended on you to figure that out for them. Now they know that they have to figure this stuff out for themselves. Adolescence is after all, the training period for adulthood.
So when your teen tells you that you are annoying and gives you 'the look", try not to take it personally. A shoulder shrug, and an I love you, should say it all.
PS: I will be at Sharon High School, Sharon Ma on Wednesday November 5 from 7-9 and at Furnace Brook Middle School in Marshfield Ma on Thursday Nov 6th from 7-9. I will giving my seminar; Adolescent Psychology The Parent Version. Both are open to the public....COME