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Unread 08-24-2017, 03:17 AM   #11
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mimsies This grieving thing is kicking my butt.
 
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Default Re: defiant teenager

My 17 yr old son and I adore each other. He has almost no contact with his father since he came of age to be allowed to choose (14). They are now on speaking terms again, which I encourage, but stay out of their relationship.

The middle school years were rough. Your description of your daughter reminds me of him during those rough years. He actually almost committed suicide during that time by jumping off a cliff. At the last second he chose not to.

These days we love spending time together.
He is still a slob.
He still has to be reminded multiple times to do a chore.
He still makes messes. And sometimes I still clean them up.
He holds down a job and is well liked by his employers.
He tells me every day how much he loves me and what a good mom I am.
He likes to hang out with me and often invites me to spend time with him and his friends.
He usually does what he is asked to do when asked politely.
Sometimes he cleans up my messes.
He tries to remember not to leave messes, but forgets, a lot.
He makes a lot of mistakes.
He does many things exactly right.
He can be really immature.
He is also very mature in other ways.
He doesn't lie to me, even when he knows I won't like what he is going to tell me.
He trusts me.

I too have severe depression and anxiety and PTSD. I also have a brain injury. I was a ball of anxiety and nerves and a LOT of anger when he was in middle school.

Then I stopped. No more yelling, or nagging, or bickering or anger. I decided what I was doing wasn't working. It was just driving us apart.

So I made myself be interested in everything he was interested in. I made myself listen to everything he had to say.

Instead of nagging and shouting I engaged him in conversation, and we talked. And talked. And talked. And talked...

I tried to hear what it was he needed. I tried to understand what was making him so unhappy. I tried to really understand why he was being so uncooperative.

I checked with him about what I thought he was saying. He would either confirm and usually elaborate farther, or he would deny and try to explain again. Sometimes it was really annoying to him when I didn't get it and he would need a good break so we could both think about it and I could try different ways of looking at what he had said, and he could try to think of another way to explain it.

I absolutely NEVER dismissed his thoughts and feelings about a topic. I may have disagreed with him, but I did it respectfully and never tried push my age and parental status as the reason he was wrong.

I worked really hard to remember how being that age felt. Tried to remember the things that hurt or annoyed or frustrated me. I tried to remember the things that scared me. I would tell him about it, and ask if any of that was where he was coming from too. I didn't use it as a way to then go into "But now that I am older, I know better..." because that is disrespectful and dismissive.

This is a big one... I quit reacting strongly when he did things or told me things that I found upsetting. If I needed time to process it I told him so and reminded him I loved him. Then when I knew I could handle it calmly and reasonably we... you guessed it... talked. I never hid from him that I disapproved or was upset about something, BUT I remained SAFE, I didn't make being honest potentially dangerous for him. He has no need to lie to me or hide things from me. He knows that I will not freak out on him. That is not the same as giving him permission to do whatever he wants. He is very compliant with my advice and instructions, usually. When he isn't it doesn't become a fight. Most often it becomes a compromise. Sometimes it becomes him doing something he knows I don't approve of, and me knowing he would do it anyway, but at least I know about it, and he isn't lying to me or hiding things from me.

One of the biggest things I had to realize was that though he is my child and always will be, he is also his own person. I have to respect that. There is no way I can force him to do anything. And I also realized I don't WANT to try to force him to do anything. I don't believe in forcing anyone to do anything. That is not an ok way to treat fellow human beings. I can ask him to do what I want, and acknowledge when it is in conflict with what he wants, and ask him to do it anyway. Usually, he does. When he doesn't, I don't yell, or scream or get upset. I know he loves me and respects me.

I didn't read parenting books, but read MANY books and articles about communicating effectively with other people. I read books about human development and the brain and what is normal for kids his age. That doesn't mean that just because something is normal, means it is ok. But it made a difference in how I handled it. Honestly... all his behaviors, troublesome or otherwise were completely normal.

I realized it made no sense to get angry at him for being and acting his age. So... we talked even MORE. About why some things have to be done the way they are done, even about why sometimes he should give in just because he loves and respects me, and vice versa.

When I did discipline him... rarely... it was after a discussion and an agreement about why the discipline was needed and what was a fair discipline. He didn't ever take advantage of that. He appreciated that I valued his input.

And, just in case people are circling ready to attack. He is not spoiled or disrespectful, or entitled. He works hard. He got his GED a year earlier than he would have graduated and started college a year early, while still working. He bought his own car. He often insists on being allowed to pay for pizza or dinner out. He takes care of me when I am sick, even when I try to tell him not to. He helps his disabled grandma just because he loves and respects her. He is thoughtful and kind and generous with other people. He is a good person. He is also STILL really messy. But, no one is perfect. And I would never want him to be "perfect". He is my son, my baby. But he is also a real person, and I am glad that I know him.
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