Wednesday, October 29, 2014
8 Ways To Not Kill Your Teenager When S/He Is Awful
My generally awesome kid has been HORRIFIC for the past several days in a row when I pick her up from school. And then she gets all, "Stop yelling at me!" and I'm like, "Oh, this isn't yelling...THIS IS YELLING," and so on. Super mature.
So back away from the switch and take some advice. It's what I say to myself in both my clearest and drunkest moments. Ready for some tough love?
1. Take a breath. Take another one. If you have not yet hyperventilated and it is five o'clock somewhere, take a drink. I prefer Angel's Envy, Woodford Reserve, and the Killer Bee at Golden West. Only have one, but make it a stiff one. Then drink a big glass of water and go to bed. You're old and you need your rest if you are complaining about kids these days.
2. Remember that one or both of your parents (depending on who is still alive) is TOTALLY gloating right now. So suck it up and try to see it from your teenager's side. You were once that jackass with the eye rolling and the huffy noise making. If you get totally pissed then you are Just. Like. Your. Parents. Think about your kid: what is his/her major damage? Does it really have anything to do with you? If not, let it go.
3. If you are a single parent, get a fucking life. I say this as a single, broke-ass parent in a new city with some friends who like me but all have their own lives to deal with and don't want me moping on their couch all the time. If your teenager is pissy-making, go do something. They are old enough to watch themselves. Quit bitching about how awful they are and go out and find something for yourself. If you have littles, too, make the awful teenager babysit. They need to learn some fucking responsibility anyway.
4. Go for a walk. Especially if you are a single parent. A lot of hot people have dogs and can be found after work perambulating, so there's that, but since you are a single parent, chances are your life has revolved around your sweet dumpling thus far and you've put on a few. Get over it. Go out in nature. It's good for you. Gives you some perspective. Plus hot single parents hike so you can multi-task on the trail. So do serial killers and muggers, so take your dog or don't go out after dark.
5. Sit them down when things cool off a bit and tell them why you're bothered by their very existence on the planet. Maybe not that. But at least why you are aggravated. And use short sentences because kids these days have the attention span of a fruit fly with progeria. Use "I" statements, like, "I am very hurt when you take every single thing I do for you for granted and treat me like a servant." Or something better. Make it personal.
6. Realize that your child is very, very dumb right now. LITERALLY. Like, they can't EVEN. See what I did there? Your average teenager can translate that ridiculous sequence of words into something meaningful but can't do the same with a simple sentence like, "Where the hell is your phone?" or "Don't leave your shoes in the middle of the floor." It is physiologically impossible for your teenager to make good decisions, like respecting their elders and not making us say the same thing eleventy million times.
7. Say yes. Huh? Did I just say that? YES. Believe it or not, it is hard as hell to be a teenager in 2014. Teenagers now may not have a draft or technically be dealing with a world war, but they have school shootings, utterly broken financial and political systems, and no hope for a job should they decide to go to college after their sub-par public education. They will probably not be able to own a home, and they are experiencing a caste system of lower and upper class as the middle gets slowly squeezed ever downward. And yet they are expected to cheerfully and hopefully go about the business of life and never fight back? How's that working out? Take one day, and god help you if you tell your kid which one it is, and say yes to everything they ask.
Then freaking pray they don't ask for something big, but if they do, GO ALL IN. You said you would.
8. On the opposite side of things, give those kids some damn chores. Stop cleaning their room, doing their laundry, and generally coddling those brats. My kid has friends who, at 14, still have no responsibility in their house - no dishes, dog walking, or kitty litter scooping. Not only are making yourself bitter by doing everything for them and then misguidedly expecting the ungrateful wretch to notice (see #6) and then appreciate it (see #5), you are also creating monsters for their future significant other and society in general. On top of that, you are raising their expectations of what real life is like to unreasonable levels. And that hurts everyone.
So there you have it. Feel better? If not, try reading this list out loud to your awful teenager and see what they think. I did, and the expression on my kid's face fixed me right up. In the end, though, she and I both recognize that parenting and teenagering is a delicate dance of back-the-fuck-off and please-don't-leave-me-ever, on both sides. The sooner you accept that reality, the better.
Now go fix yourself a drink while you work the other steps.