Time for another episode of Judgy McJudgerson
The funny thing is, most of these people have no teenagers. They don't understand that raising a two-year old is VERY different (and yet sometimes so similar) to raising teens. They don't get that when your child is 6'2" and 210 lbs you can't grab his hand and redirect him to another activity. They don't understand that when you have a teen, they can and will do just about anything to keep you from learning what is REALLY going on in their lives. That they will hide things, embellish other things, and completely deny what is staring them right in the face. That's what parenting teens is about, and in my opinion, if your teen gets through high school without being arrested, totaling a car, or being abused, you've done a damn good job as a parent.
Parenting teens is different than it was when we were teens. With the advent of internet ready devices at their beck and call, they are much more savy to information that simply passed us by. They are in constant communication with each other, which means that they know much much more about the sordid side of life than we did as kids.
Imagine this, for example. Your kid gets a text message one evening. A kid has had a fight with a parent and took off. Kid has cell phone, and is texting around town trying to find a place to stay. Your kid gets message, offers a place to stay, and makes up a story for you, the parent. You check out the story the best you can, but you actually know nothing more than what you are told. You don't take in the kid, but you know where the kid is staying. The police call you wondering if you have the kid. You don't, but don't offer where the kid is staying because you know that kid has been beaten many many times by crazy father. You also know that crazy father is a crack addict. You've met crazy dad enough times to know that all that info is absolutely true.
This is not an unusual occurance when you have a teen. That actual story happened to us. It had NOTHING to do with our family, but because we were peripherally involved, we were on the teen texting hotline, and the fingers were flying.
If that same scenario had happened when I was a kid, the only communication device was the phone, and a runaway wouldn't use the phone because the parent of the kid he called would ALWAYS inform the kid's parent, and kid would be returned home to be beaten senseless.
Teenagers are exposed to much more than any other generation. They know intimately the inner workings of each other's families. They see the alcoholism, drug abuse, and insanity that goes on in their friend's homes. They carry around these burdens, making them terribly stressed and angry much of the time.
They come home to their own homes, where things are familiar, and when challanged to do something they don't want to do, they let their anger at the world explode out of them. That's what being a teen is about, carrying much more than you should and sometimes just being incapable of keeping all that angst inside.
That does not, not for one second, mean that the parent is a bad parent because the child has a tantrum. It means that the child is overloaded and overburdened and needs a release. As the parent of two teens, I've been unloaded upon countless times, and because I'm an adult that understands and empathizes what pressures teens are under, I'm smart enough to know that there honestly isn't much you can do but let them express their fury. It's not bad parenting, it's good parenting. It's what the experts recommend you do.
Teenagers will seek out ways to alleviate their anger. Some will drink, some will smoke pot, some will have sex with strangers. They act out. It's nothing new. You did it as a teen. And if you didn't, you were repressed by parents that didn't let you breathe on your own. Teenagers rebell. It isn't a new phenomenon, it's been going on forever.
Parents can put as many rules and regulations into effect as they want, but teenagers will learn to work around them. I sure did as a kid, and my kids try hard to do it today. They aren't as successful as I was because my parents were oblivious and I am not. There is nothing that my kids do that I don't eventually find out about. I do all of the things that experts say parents should do. I read their Facebook pages and if I see something I object to, I make them take it off immediately. If they don't, I close down their page. Ask my daughter. She no longer has a Facebook page.
I look at both their incoming and outgoing texts all the time. I monitor their computer use by keeping the computer right in the center of all activity in the house. I know what they're doing, I know who calls them on the house phone, and whom they are calling. I even know every number that calls their cell phones and will block numbers I don't know. Believe me when I say I'm WAY more involved than 99% of parents out there.
But, and this is a big one. I understand what being a teenager means, and if my kids do something I don't like, I institute draconiam punishments for their transgressions. They might not seem like big punishments to you, but for MY kids, losing their Ipods, phones, XBox controllers, and computer time are just about the end of the world.
And even with all this said, my kids screw up a lot, and I expect that of them. If they didn't, I'd be a lot more worried. When I was at the hospital the other day, the Boy brought over his friend who believes he lives with us, and they were smoking pot. I wasn't there. As soon as I got home I figured it out and sent the friend packing. He's not allowed over for a while. Other actions were deemed appropriate on our end. There were consequences.
What would YOU have done? Remember, pot is decriminalized in MA, friend is over 18 and it was his, it was less than one ounce in a private home, and there is no punishment for it. So what would you do other than to toss friend out? He's not a minor. His parents couldn't care less. The police would have done nothing. Is it all up to ME to provide punishment for both kids? I don't think it is.
I'm serious. I really want to know, from the Judgy McJudgersons that read me every day and then go off and make nasty comments about my parenting skills, calling me insane and much worse, what would you do? Do you HAVE teenagers? Are they larger than you are? Do you really believe that you could find better solutions for parenting kids almost out of high school and ready to go off on their own?
Because I honestly believe that these Judgys have no older kids, or that they make them up as convenient to prove their point that they are the worlds best parent and we should all bow down to them. Lies are transparent, and I've read enough of them to know when people are telling the truth vs embellishing them points with examples that do not ring true. Prove me wrong. Stumble It! JBlog Me