Eye rolls, grunts, slammed doors, weird emojis and acronyms you don’t understand. You were going to kill it today-go ahead and put yourself down for Mom of the Year-until you saw that Miss Sassy Pants not only didn’t clean her room, but she also left a trail of dirty clothes from her bathroom to her closet.
You find a trail of socks, T-shirts, socks, and Little Debbie wrappers leading from her bathroom down the hall into her bedroom.
Did she need to find her way back in the night?
You’ve gone from Calm Zen Granola Mom to Texas Cheerleader Crazy in about 5.2 seconds, and she’ll be home any minute.
What do you do?
A. Go psycho the moment she walks in
B. Go insane two seconds after she walks in
C. None of the above because you need to maintain a relationship because you found this blog post
Ding. Ding. Ding.
We have a winner!
How to Talk to Your Teenager When You Feel Like A Lunatic
Hey, I know, it’s hard to keep your sanity intact when you’re the parent of a teenager.
Even harder is not losing your mind when they exhibit all of their stupidity at one time. Or, multiple times depending on the day.
But you’ve got to do it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to hold their hands and sing Kumbaya when they walk in from school-that would go over like a lead balloon, but what I am saying is you have to pick your battles.
If you’re going to have a good relationship with your teenager when it counts, you’ve got to pick your battles.
It’s funny, most days I can’t remember why I walk into a room, but I can remember being sixteen.
The teens were not my best years. At the top of my teen To-Do list (after getting out of high school and going to college and getting married, of course) was becoming the mom I wanted.
Sixteen-year-old me wanted and needed a mom she could talk to without being lectured without warning. Someone I could trust and call if I was ever in trouble. I needed a mom and a friend who understood me.
If you’re here because you need to be that mom for your teenager, don’t worry; there’s still time. If you’ve forgotten how it feels to be sixteen, and watching The Breakfast Club doesn’t remind you, then keep reading.
I didn’t name this blog Word to Your Mother for no good reason.
Communication is an art that some people spend a lifetime trying to perfect.
But we’re parents not professional speakers.
We don’t have that kind of time, we don’t get paid, and our kids tell us we’re stupid on the daily.
I’ve read hundreds of articles on talking to teenagers, and some were apparently written by people who never had children.
You can use these today.
As soon as your kid gets home from school-or, a little while after…we’ll get to that.
Timing is Everything.
After school seems like a good time, but-DON’T DO IT!
It’s the worst time to get them to talk about anything-especially if you ask the all-time Mom Favorite “How was school today?”. (I know, right?)
School is like their job, and we all want to relax after working all day.
All your kid wants to do is kick back, eat a snack and chill. (But not Netflix & Chill-Never that)
I used to get MAD when my girls didn’t spill the moment they got home. I mean, didn’t they know I had been talking to myself all day? Worrying all day long about them?
It went a little something like this:
ME:“How was school?”
ME: “What about that girl, in your science class, you know, the one with the Uggs? What happened with her? Or that boy you said you kinda liked? The one with the hair? Do you still like him? I saw a thing on VH1 about T-Swift today! I love that song Bad Blood! I think I’m going to download her album! Will you help me on my computer? Do you have any homework? When does your report card come out?”
GIRLS:”Oh My GAH, Mom! No-Ah! And nobody listens to that song anymore! Ugh! Leave us alone-ah!”
Then I learned a few tricks I’m passing on to you right here.
You can thank me later.
The second not so secret-secret is Listening.
But I mean really listen.
As in, shut up.
It can be easy for us to interrupt our teen’s narrative of a situation with our objections like, “Not in this house!”…” or “When he!! freezes over,” but you have to remember this conversation is not about you.
I have to repeat that.
It’s is not about you!
Listening to our teens is not about what we have to say next. And it’s not about teaching a life lesson. Moms love a good life lesson, don’t we? It’s like we’ve got to make sure we’ve got ’em all in there now because our babies are about to be adults.
News Flash: THEY TUNE OUT LIFE LESSONS!
When you interrupt your son or daughter, no matter what you say, the message they get is: Mom doesn’t respect my thoughts and words.
When you think somebody doesn’t care about what you’ve got to say- you stop talking to them.
I know it’s hard to bite your tongue.
I have a prescription for the sores on mine.
If you’re reading this, you know that teenagers are out of control emotional lunatics. Sorry, they can be. Some can be. Not mine-never mine. (She’s watching me…)
If you have a pulse, then you’re bound to remember at least one thing about the hormonal rage ride that is adolescence. Teenage boys can be hostile creatures, and teenage girls are complete basket cases-it’s science. Did you pay any attention to The Breakfast Club?
I know, because I was one and I currently parent two.
Well, my youngest is a tween, but close enough.
My husband is a typical man.
He’s a problem solver: tell me what’s wrong so I can fix it.
Obviously, this approach does not work with teenage girls. (Or forty-two-year-old women.)
They need their moms to hear them out and say they understand that they feel sad or angry or in need of a Sephora trip even though they just went last weekend.
The idea here is to teach them that their feelings are ok-as long as they handle those feelings appropriately.
The absolute worst thing you can do to a teenage girl is to tell her that her emotions aren’t valid.
Saying “Get Over It,” “Calm Down,” or “Stop Acting So Dramatic” are sure-fire ways to cut off communication.
It’s not about the feeling-it’s about teaching your teen how to (or how NOT to) act on the emotion that’s important.
I want you to think about it this way; has your husband ever told you to “Calm Down”? Has it ever worked?
Has it ever in the history of mankind worked?
Show your genuine Interest not Interrogation.
If you show interest in something your teenager likes you are opening a door for more conversation.
Be careful not to fake it-one of the teenager’s superpowers is a superior BS detector.
Just be yourself.
Let her show you how SnapChat works or how to update your Facebook profile picture from 2007.
Please let her update your profile picture.
On the other hand, dissing the current trends, like saying Instagram is stupid or contouring makeup is a waste is only widening the gap in your relationship. I’m not saying you have to contour now-I’m telling you not to tell her it’s dumb.
Finally, teenagers need praise.
Teenagers need recognition just as much if not more than little children.
The truth is they need to know they have your approval, love, and support even when they are acting like they don’t need you. Especially when they are acting like they don’t need you.
I recently read an article saying we have been praising our kids all wrong.
Just what a mom wants to hear, right? But it made sense. The author explains that parents are putting too much emphasis on outcomes rather than efforts.
In other words, praise the effort, not the “A.”
Look, I’m no expert in parenting, but I do have a great relationship with both of my daughters.
That has always been my goal as a mom. I never wanted to be the best cook or cleaner-and thank God for that because I’m terrible at both, but when it comes to communicating with my girls, I know exactly what I’m doing.
Do I make mistakes?
Yep. Of course, I do.
We all do.
My sixteen-year old’s teacher told me that she gave a report in class last week that made her cry. My daughter told the class how I was her mother, but also a friend.
That’s a win, folks.
That’s exactly who I wanted to be.