Monday, May 07, 2007

A backhanded compliment

Those of you who have teens or who were teens might appreciate this: My 14yo gave me the nicest compliment today. She meant it as an insult. She was angry because I sent her to her room for back talk and then I added time because she slammed the door. Then she slammed it again and I told her she was in for the night.

"You are SO predictable," she yelled.

I was mulling over what she'd said and it dawned on me that's exactly what I am supposed to be! She's telling me I'm doing my job right.

What I have learned as a parent, however, is that even when I do it right, it doesn't always "work." At least not right away. She's still talking back. She's still slamming the door. They still don't put their back packs away even though I confiscate them and require a job to get them back.

That lack of effectiveness surprised me the most. Before I had kids, I was such an expert on raising them. Be consistent. Be firm. Be gentle. In reality, it's so much harder than any of the books let on.

To end on a positive note, the door slammer did later apologize and even helped with her little sisters.


loribird said...

You got an apology too? So it was effective after all... What I have to keep reminding myself is that I'm not raising the kids to treat me well, I'm raising them to be good adults in their own time. You know that lady who throws a fit if she isn't catered to "This very instant!!!" in a store? Your daughter will never be that one :)

Lisa L said...

I find it effective to call out every incident of "teenage" behavior every time it happens no matter how small. So I stop her every time I get a shoulder shrug or a "whatever" (a word my husband has banned from our house!) an eyeroll or just "the look". Calling out the behavior ("Oh - you must be turning into a TEENAGER") usually brings an immediate sheepish smile and we move on from there. Now, I only have one and her father and I can "gang up" on her and she hasn't really turned into that TEENAGER yet, but I'm trying to counteract it before it gets out of control! I also find that forcing her into a BIG HUG seems to help - she's totally embarrased, but still has enough of the little girl in her to like it!
I just can't believe that we ever behaved this way with our parents ;-)

Your secret pal said...

When you figure out what works let me know. I was dealing with almost the same thing as you last night at bedtime and mine is only 4. Those strong personality types are murder!!!!

Janice said...

Aaah, 14 is in the 'dark ages' as far as teenage girls!! Sounds like you are doing well.. Like you say, being consistent is the key. We also like to tell people that you don't give birth to your friends.... so it's ok to not make them happy all the time. They need parenting.. as you say, to be effective adults. Yes, someday the goal is to also be their friend.. but don't rush it!!

You're a great mom!!