Parenting teens: It’s not us, it’s them

by

Parenting teens - It's not us, it's them

This is my new mantra for parenting teens: It’s not us, it’s them.

It’s not us.

I was trying to have a reasonable conversation with my son (almost 14) and it escalated from “You can’t have a Weetbix right now, have a banana” (me) to “You hate me! You HATE ME! I’m moving out forever!” (him) in about 45 seconds.

First mistake: you cannot have a reasonable conversation with a teenager if you plan to disagree with them.

Second mistake: you cannot have a conversation with a teenager.

My second new mantra is this: Do not engage.

When the teen starts dramatically throwing himself around the house, screaming at the top of his lungs that he is moving out forever, don’t agree that that would be a really good idea.

Also don’t suggest that such a move would be a slight overreaction to the suggestion of a banana.

Oh, and please don’t suggest that you love him and you would be devastated if he ever moved out. Don’t cry, don’t yell back, definitely don’t threaten to move out first.

Suggest nothing. Do nothing. Do not engage.

Once the banana storm has passed (and it will pass after 15 door slams, 11 haunting battle cries and at least 27 unacceptable insults), simply wait for an apology. It’s true that you will be waiting a very long time, but enjoy the relative calm while the waiting period settles around you like a thick, hot blanket.

Eventually, after an insufferably awkward long time, the teen will emerge from his dark cave and mutter a vague apology. He will toss this tepid apology at you like he just scraped it off the floor of his room along with a half-eaten, rotting apple and a ball of matted hair.

Which brings me to my third mantra:

Accept any kind of apology without question.

This is not the time to demand a better apology, one that actually contains the words “sorry for” and “what came over me” and “mum you deserve so much better”. This is not the time to fire up the Powerpoint slides on your well-researched “How to Apologise with Grace and Humility” presentation.

Instead, this is the time to accept the apple-y, hairy apology without question or comment. Try not to seethe, try not to be hurt, try not to have cold shoulders. Don’t mention the banana or the yelling or the door slamming and definitely don’t mention the insults. Accept the apology with grace and humility.

Then perhaps suggest you both have a round of buttered toast and a glass of milk.

It’s not us, it’s them. So I try not to make it us.

What’s your fallback position when parenting teens?

Parenting teens - why teens are so awful and the best way to handle them

Written by Bron Maxabella

Bron is the founder of Mumlyfe and is so happy to welcome you here. Bron has been writing in the Australian parenting space as Maxabella for more than 10 years and is mum to three mostly happy kids and wife to one mostly happy husband. Mostly happy is a win, right?

We’re very social

More for you

This year, I vow to be a better mum

This year, I vow to be a better mum

Parenting teens is hard. So f*cking hard. But it's also delightful. Sometimes I'm so deep in the hard times that I forget about the soft moments. That buried under the knee-deep clothes on the floor, the defiance, the backtalk and 'the face' (parents of teens will...

5 ways to go high when your kid goes low

5 ways to go high when your kid goes low

It's seriously hard to Michelle Obama it in and go high when your kid goes low, or is that just me? Nothing pushes my buttons quite like an ungrateful, privileged kid trying to tell me how the world works. Worse, an ungrateful, privileged kid who we have raised to be...

Affiliate links

From time to time Mumlyfe uses affiliate links.  It means that Mumlyfe may receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using the link.  You can find out more about how it works here.

You may also like

Related

This year, I vow to be a better mum

This year, I vow to be a better mum

Parenting teens is hard. So f*cking hard. But it's also delightful. Sometimes I'm so deep in the hard times that I forget about the soft moments. That buried under the knee-deep clothes on the floor, the defiance, the backtalk and 'the face' (parents of teens will...

50+ of the best Christmas gifts for tweens of all ages

50+ of the best Christmas gifts for tweens of all ages

Those lovely little tweenie tweens are equal parts delightful and depressing. No one does he sulk better or holds a grudge longer than a tween. Especially a tween who wanted an Apple watch but received a calculator instead (this may or may not have happened at our...

4 Comments

  1. Maxabella

    This feels so right – exercise, time with his mates, time in nature. All of our teens should be hiking weekly! High five!!

    Reply
  2. Kooky Chic

    I sent mine of on a 6 hour hike yesterday with his mates. Gave us all respite. He came back happy…….well I think he did, who would know? So it’s hiking every weekend from now on and with any lucky, an overnight camp every now and then.

    Reply
  3. Mar

    Feels like there’s no hope with parenting my teen. Never thought I would be looking for help through Google searches.

    Reply
    • Maxabella

      I sad to hear this, Mar. Hang in there. x

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This