Donna O'Donnell Figurski's Blog

It's All About Me!

Musings by Donna #44 Raising Teenagers

High School is probably the hardest time of one’s life. It’s a time when you are trying to fit in, find yourself, and express yourself – many times pushing against authority – teachers, parents. It’s a confusing time when teenagers think they know everything, but parents, who have gone through that period (and most would never want to revisit it) see the bumps and pitfalls in the road. Because we love our children, we do not want them to make the same mistakes we did. We want to be better parents than we conceive ours were. And that is good. It’s a cycle. It’s three squeezes!

I don’t think there are any “perfect” parents. If there are, I’d love to meet them. I think most kids go through an awkward stage – and parents ride the rough road right along with them – hanging on tight and hoping they all make it through the maze of teenage years unscathed. I think we all sport a number of scars, too. But I hear that time … and maybe … a little Palmers Coconut Butter with Vitamin E can erase those scars or perhaps make them less prominent – less hurtful.

I think the teenage years present a new and oftentimes unsettling dynamic in the relationship between parents and child. As an infant, toddler, or young elementary-school child, the child relies upon the parent. The child looks to her parents for all of her needs. Her mother and father can do no wrong. They are her king and queen. I think that is typical of many youth – at least, I often saw it with my five-year-old to nine-year-old students. They adored their parents. (I saw it with my own kids, too.) Oh, I saw my students getting angry with their parents, too, plenty of times, but that was usually because the child’s wants were thwarted. Children hate to hear the “NO” word. I guess as adults, we are no different. We, too, want what we want when we want it. I’m sure my students would have considered their parents strict and would have banished their fallen kings and queens to the dungeon at these times, if they could have. But their anger was usually short-lived.

I guess a child may consider her parents strict when those parents, unpopularly, stand in the way of what she wants. I actually abhor the word, “strict.” Several synonyms in the dictionary referring to “strict parents” include stern, severe, uncompromising, and authoritarian. Sounds gruesome and that is not a characteristic I would ever wish to aspire to. I prefer my internal definition of strict … firm … but loving, and guiding – wanting simply the best for my child – needing her to be safe. After all, I spent nine long months living more closely than I have ever consciously lived with anyone while eagerly anticipating her birth.

But, it’s not always easy guiding a teenager … especially one who we encouraged to speak out, to make her thoughts known, to ask why and never to accept the lazy, cliched answer “because”, to take sides on issues – life issues, political issues – a child who was urged to be a free-thinker and an independent spirit. No, that was not an easy path, but it was a life worth living – a path worth taken. That child was spunky and feisty as she confidently, but politely debated an unwavering uncle on environmental affairs. She was self-reliant as she trekked across Europe, where she eventually met her husband and birthed two lovely daughters. She was persistent when disputing a point with her teachers in class and tenacious when she desperately wanted to become a midwife – searching the world through the internet for the best school, and writing countless letters to make it happen, from a country far away – against many odds.

So, though the teenage years are rough ones, not only for the teenager, but also for the parents, one can only hope to have done one’s best – that you have made the path as clear and uncomplicated as possible, and that on the other side of those teen years a new and fresh friendship can reawaken, develop, and flourish.

Please feel free to leave a comment. Simple click the blue word “Comment” below this post.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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August 8, 2012 - Posted by | Musings by Donna | , , ,

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