Hey friends, Yes you read that right. Kinda. We are in year two of the terrible teens. The mood swings and bad attitude are no joke. I have never witnessed somebody as headstrong as my 16-year-old. He will make his own life harder just to spite us. It’s maddening. The other day my sweet friend checked in on my me and I was beyond frustrated so I texted her back and said, “He’s being a dick”. Well, autocorrect wasn’t happy with my word choice so it changed it to duck. Several times. It was annoying and comical. Now, some parents would cringe at me for calling my son a dick but I don’t care. My therapist advised that I change the narrative to, “he’s being a dick” but it doesn’t feel the same rolling off my tongue. Truth? I have a terrible potty mouth. I sprinkle the word “fuck” in sentences like it’s parsley. Yeah. Guilty over here. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and I try to be mindful of my audience. But I felt like I should be transparent. So hi, my name is Gabby and I like to cuss.
Teens – they are a different breed. I was not even prepared for the level of hard that would come with my kid’s teen years. Let me back up, he’s always been pretty stubborn and we’ve always had a hard time with consequences cause he just chooses to act like he doesn’t care about anything that we take away from him. Currently, we’ve removed his bedroom door and tv that he just got for his 16th birthday. We would shut his phone off (because he will not physically hand it over to us) but we had been wanting him to get a job and that was the number that he put on his applications and it’s also how we communicate with him now that he has a job for pickups, etc. So that is a tough one to take away. This kid is so stubborn that if we bought him a flip-phone, he’d never use it. I am telling you, we got the extra extra teen happening over here.
Yesterday I was frustrated so I texted his counselor. I desperately needed advice on how to not lose my shit again. She gave me some advice. Now applying said advice is always the tricky part. I am EMOTIONAL. I take everything personally (I’m working on that). I cry for all the moods – happy, sad, mad and every mood in-between. She gave me some nuggets that I want to share with you.
How To Deal With A Difficult Teen – Advice From Our Therapist
- Stay neutral and nonreactive
- Set consequences
- When you take things away, make sure it’s for a reasonable amount of time to be effective but not so long that it loses its effectiveness
- Acknowledge that he is in control and it’s his choice to act the way he is but he has to accept the consequences
- If he breaks a rule, set the consequence without a fight
- Keep the rewards in sight and consequences clear
- Offer rewards for good behavior
- Spend (or attempt) to spend 15 minutes of uninterrupted time with him every day (if you have a difficult kid, you know this is not an easy thing to do)
- Take the fight out of it the best you can
My teen years looked so different than my son’s and I just can’t relate to him. Neither can my husband. When I turned 15, I moved to a new town and had to make new friends. I didn’t find my people til late in my junior year. I was fine though. I had friends, was social, had a job and did fine in school. I was always super self-sufficient which was good because my dad remarried and while I was busy being a teenager, he was busy being a newlywed and raising 5 younger kids. Thank goodness I was an independent kid because I literally took care of myself. Did I do stupid stuff? Of course! I was still a teenager after all. I was figuring it out but I was also a bit of a late bloomer with boys and partying. My kid? Not so much! He’s a curious one and he’s jumped right in with both feet. Another major difference? I didn’t like to rock the boat and disappointing my dad made me feel awful. Also, I wasn’t a risktaker.
One of his favorite party tricks is running away. It’s exhausting. Seriously. He typically returns within 48 hours and we know he finds a safe place to land. However, it’s not ok. We are currently sitting in a waiting phase. I canceled plans today. I have plans tomorrow and you know what? I don’t want to cancel them! This is a constant struggle.
When your teen makes life hell what do you do?
- ignore the situation and carry on as normal
- sit and wait
- seek advice from a therapist
- call a friend
- drink copious amounts of wine
Today we went with option 2 and 3. We have a plan in place. Now, the biggest piece of this fun puzzle is staying calm. I suck at that part.
Why does my life feel like it’s being put on hold? I feel resentful. I love my kid. I know his potential. He has to do the work though. I can’t do it for him. So this is where I have to do my own work. I have to live my best life. This will show my kids that we work through the hard stuff. That we continue to show up, even when life is hard and messy. That’s my goal. Who’s with me?