Do you mind if I pretend we are sitting at a coffee shop, and you just said, I think my teen hates me, and we just have a chat? Cool. Oh, who am I? I’m the father of four kids who were teens and one who still is. (I’m looking forward to being a retired teen parent.) I’ve also spent 25 years in classrooms working with teens. So you’re having coffee with as close to a teen expert as you’re probably going to get in this imaginary coffee shop. It will help if you pretend we are really close friends, too, so I can be pretty blunt with you.
I have so many questions for you, my imaginary coffee partner: What was your relationship with your teen like before now? Have you considered how this unique time may have changed your teen? Have you considered how this unique time may have changed you? Is it possible that something has magnified some pre-existing issues in your relationship? Have you considered that teenagers may be here on earth to trouble their parents?
Bottom Line: Your teen probably doesn’t hate you. But they might.
Let me share the wise words of American author Ralph Waldo Emerson. (By the way, I taught English. Please pass the cream.) Anyway, he says in his essay Self-Reliance that “Every great man must learn how to estimate a sour face.” Paraphrased for our purposes, “Every great parent must learn how to estimate an I hate you from their teen.”
I’m trying to lovingly raise a future independent adult. I’m operating from principles, for a purpose — not for popularity. Some of the wisest things I did as a parent were met with fierce anger from my kids and some of the dumbest things I did as a parent were met with great joy from my kids. I’m not into this parenting thing for an approval rating from someone whose brain literally will not fully develop for a few years. I’m trying to work myself out of a job by preparing my teen for the real world.
So, I’ve had to ask myself if my child was mad at me because I’m doing what’s right as a parent or if my child was mad at me because I blew it and was way out of line and I needed to make it right.
Do I need to stick to my guns or be honest, humble myself, and apologize? That’s kinda why I said: Your teen probably doesn’t hate you. But they might.
Don’t Rush to Judgment.
I wouldn’t rush to any judgments or hard conclusions. You may be really stressing out about the future and your finances. Maybe some things have affected you more than you realize. Maybe you are treating your teen like you don’t like them. Are you taking care of yourself? (Mmm… This is a great latte!)
And don’t forget how things might be affecting your teen. They might be worrying about the future and your finances, too. Or, they might not understand how to process the stress and anxiety that they feel. They might be bored. You become the prime target for them to take out their frustrations.
Finally, there’s the possibility that something else has revealed and even magnified some issues in your relationship with your teen. That’s okay. Face them head-on and capitalize on it to connect or maybe reconnect with your teen. This blog, pretty much written by a teenager, might give you some pointers for connecting with your teen. It was really helpful for me.
One parenting adage remains true: Rules without relationship lead to rebellion. Give that equation some real thought. Hang in there. Thanks for having coffee with me.