If you don’t have a sense of humor, you should probably stop reading this blog.

Welcome humor enthusiasts.

I recently got a letter from a reader who was overwhelmed with parenting teenagers. She wrote:

Dear MF,

I feel like a psycho parent these days. I have two teenagers.  They are entitled, rude and lazy. Our home is constantly fighting.  I am starting to resent them.  There are days I just wanna punch them!! Not seriously but ughhhhhhhh. I feel like they don’t contribute anything to our family but suck us dry. I hate feeling like this.  I love my kids, why can’t we just have peace and quiet in our home?”

Sincerely,

I want my babies back

Well this is a brave letter.  Thanks for writing “I want my babies back (IWMBB)”.  I am not a child psychologist and I don’t have teenagers.  I do have an opinion though and I’m happy to share it with you.

It's Ok we all have those days(1)

Here’s the truth, passion is connected to deep, honest and raw feelings.  A parent is realllllly passionate about their kids.  This passion can often result in volcanic proportion eruptions.  Sometimes the passion manifests itself as sobbing, squeals, hugs, kisses, laughter and sometimes anger.  Rage may even be a fair word.  Sometimes you just wanna punch your kid in the throat.   This is a much more frequent feeling in the older years.  Rarely do you want to punch a baby or toddler in the throat, that isn’t funny,

A good and sane parent never actually acts on this rage.  We develop coping mechanisms to manage the hardships of parenting.  For many, the lifelines are much like the lifelines of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Phone a friend, ask the audience or remove some of the wrong answers.

The other day my husband came upstairs and said “I’m agitated”. He closed the door. I Got it.  It’s like a WWE match.  It was time to tag the other guy in.  I stepped into the ring.

Parenting is hard.  We give our kids an inch and they take three thousand miles.  We have a lot on our plate.  Often by the time we get home, our kids and family get the tired exhausted and short fused parent. Our society is producing a whole race that should be known as “The Entitled Ones”.

I have amazing people in my life who are like minded parents.  This is really valuable when you hit a parenting speed bump.  Sharing your stories, sharing your experiences and insights can be really helpful.  Sometimes you just need to vent.  Knowing we are all on this road together is incredibly powerful.

Recently I was at a girls’ weekend with the women in my life whom I admire and respect.  They are my chicken soup for my soul, my aunts and my cousins.  My aunt said something  profound.  My sister was venting about the challenges of raising teenagers, much like your letter (you are not alone!).  Everyone was nodding with support and my very wise aunt piped up and said :

“Replace expectation with appreciation”

I feel like I already knew this, but it was a perfect reminder I needed at that moment.  I will never underestimate that one person’s hurricane is any bigger or smaller than anyone else’s.  What is a parenting nightmare for one person can be a breeze for another.  Parenting is relative and based on perception, just like every other facet of our lives.  Perception is powerful.   I was recently talking to a friend who’s dealing with a child struggling with anxiety.  We all want an answer, a simple easy solution to make our children’s life and our life easier.  Just do this and voila your Jimmy or Katie will be just fine.  Unfortunately parenting doesn’t work like that.

When I walk through the door and the house is a mess and I step on a piece of lego that I told someone to pick up nine times, I have choice of how I react.  I can let my expectations dictate my reaction or my appreciation.

Here’s how the expectation reaction looks:

“I TOLD you to pick up that LEGO, NINE TIMES.  WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN?  WHY HAVEN’T YOU CLEANED YOUR ROOM? CLEAN THIS HOUSE NOW!”

Kids need accountability. Kids need rules and they need expectations, it not what we say but how we say it that really matters.

Here’s how the appreciation reaction looks:

“Hey I’m home! What are you guys doing? Oh, building a fort?  That’s great that you’re working together. You’re using your minds and not your electronics, nice.  But t you have some unfinished business here.  This LEGO needs to be picked up or it’s in the garbage.  I told you to pick it up more than once.  This is the last chance.”

If they don’t listen, you throw that piece of LEGO in the garbage.  Following through is crucial. Now you maybe rolling your eyes at this scenario.  Maybe you walked in and your kids are plopped on the couch like bumps on a log watching TV with snacks and food everywhere.  How do you find the appreciation in that?  Well, just like adults, kids work hard all day too.  School is their job and it is hard.  Appreciate that they are exhausted just like you and yes you would love to hang out on the couch and watch Bridesmaids and eat Doritos.

Kids have the same feelings adults do.  They want support, they want love, caring and respect.  They get tired, cranky, happy and exhausted just like us.  The irony of your letter “Sometimes I Just Wanna Punch My Kids”,  is that many kids would like to punch their parents.

It's Ok we all have those days

We need to appreciate the situation, rather than place our personal expectations into the situation.  This is management 101.  Listening, evaluating and respecting your employees will greatly increase your productivity.  At the end of the day, parenting is running and managing a company.  You are raising adults. The problem is, we love these small humans more than ANYTHING in the world.  This passion gets in the way of clarity, and that’s when we use one of our lifelines.  Thanks for phoning a friend.  I hope I helped.

God speed.

MF

3 comments

  • I loved reading this post. I need to reread it every day to remind myself to speak positively when stressed out with my kids. Especially with summer coming soon soon…thanks for the great insight

  • Once again Nailed!! Bang on, and just to echo Christine, I too, must print this out for the gentle reminder of appreciation and not expectation. Awesome blog and excellent direction. Keep ’em comin Chell