“Teenagers give me the shits!”
“Because they won’t get off their butts and they carry on like pork-chops. They all need a big kick up the arse!”
This was a conversation with a friend of mine. I contributed the “why”. He’s not a bad man. Just a grumpy one; like most of us in the late forties, fifties bracket.
And he reflects the intolerance teenagers experience everyday from adults that then makes teenagers think adults are a pack of… well you know! I referred to this some time ago at https://leesis.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/back-to-kindness/.
For those new to my writing I have a fourteen year old son ,J. And at the moment I really feel for him and his friends for teenage boys seem to be my constant companions lately.
Firstly they are experiencing rapid changes to their body. When they look in the mirror they are taller, have random explosions on their face, a voice not totally under their control. Hairy legs look different to what they’ve seen before and on it goes.
This is seriously disconcerting stuff and it surprises me that more of us adults in the afore-mentioned age group don’t get this.
Personally, at forty-seven with my body in menopause, I am weekly challenged by gravity, by new lines on my face, by hairs arriving where no woman should have hair, by new pains that challenge my desires. That this makes me emotionally ‘pork-choppy’ is hardly surprising and same for our teens!
And that, i.e. emotions, is the second issue for the lads.
Hormones! Rushes of testosterone and more that the observant parent can literally see on their faces some days, like hot flushes for me.
Oh and what these increases and decreases do to the ‘in the moment’ emotional state is kind of like being on the most terrifying rollercoaster ride imaginable.
At my age I have the advantage of experience to not attach too much to these constant swings in my mood anywhere between elation and despair on a daily basis. But I often fail in the short-term and indeed have minimized my interactions with the ‘general community’ due to my often irritable state. (I use massive and exhausting self-control with my son :).)
I educate J too. But the fact of the matter is he doesn’t have the experience and it is impossible for him to minimize his contact with anyone. And this is the third area where teenagers are challenged.
Socially this time is I think one of the most confronting times besides old age.
As teenagers with the body constantly changing, the emotions riding the roller-coaster, we are required to consume massive amounts of information, conform to all societies rules and regulations, conform to all of societies moray and customs whilst ensuring membership of our peer group at the same time as finding our own individualization as distinct from our home and our early teachers!
Oh and one more thing just to make it all that much harder.
Medical evidence proves without a doubt that generally (there are always extreme examples that are different), the teenage body-clock becomes ‘late to rise, late to sleep’. Despite their whole community being based on early rising. Just another challenge for them.
I’m not suggesting that we therefore allow teens to rumble (so to speak). Indeed at this time they require the boundaries we parents must provide more than ever.
But given that none of us want them to come out the other side of puberty hostile and thoughtless towards others, I would encourage us to use education, tolerance, and persistent patience with a serious dose of empathy and self-disclosure added when we interact with them. Self-dsclosure as in sharing your struggles when you were a teen.
There are moments my son and I look into each others eyes as if we were mortal enemies until our mutual sense of ridiculousness kicks in as we become aware that hormones are the energy behind our argument. These days he often gets it before me.
At the end of it all…thank god for laughter!
Please…kids need a listening ear and the sharing of experiences. Not a kick up the you know what!
After all, we don’t tell a two-year old off for not reading yet. We don’t smack a child for not understanding algebra. Nor can we tell off a teen for not having complete control on things yet. I see few adults exhibiting the very same they demand out of teens.
Perhaps more patience for us all would be a good thing.