Teenage years come with a whole lot of drama. The importance is to KNOW your child and to understand him by not taking his behavior towards you too personal and not to overreact when he’s a bit offish. A lot of “out of the norm” behaviors can be placed on puberty hormones, but respect goes a long way.
Adam Price, a psychologist in New York, and author of “He’s not lazy: Empowering your son to Believe in Himself” (Sterling, 2017) says: “Don’t take your son’s expression of teenage defiance personally. Realize you’re the target of his frustration, not the cause, if you can do that, your response will be very different and much more productive. For example a teen might say, “You’re always on my case, I hate you!” Instead of disputing that, you could rather say “You do need to talk respectfully to me,” which sets a limit but won’t spiral into an argument with him.
In the past year my caring and deeply sensitive son has transformed into a beautiful head strong, passionate young man. At this point he seems to be so frustrated that anything has the ability to set him off. He’s almost always angry about everything and everyone around him. He sleeps, eats and lay on the couch most of the time during the day, I cringe at the music he’s listening to and he challenges everything his dad says. He tries to be away from the extended family as much as he can get away with and just seems not interested. As much as family members may love and adore your teenager and as much as they want to support and advise you on how to deal with certain challenges concerning him, it’s important to know how much of that advice you follow. And believe me they will want to advise but it might be far from what your son really needs.
It’s so scary because at times I think to myself ‘have I done something wrong?? Have we given him too much slack??? Are we even doing this right??’ We are starting to blame each other in an attempt to find out where this situation is coming from… Something that you need to understand, this is new terrain for his dad and me as well as for him. We are all just trying to figure out how to handle this overwhelming experience. Being on this side of “the phase” is turning out to be quite tricky. You know you have raised your child with good values, a good believe system and the best guidelines you could provide, so you know when he’s struggling to cope. Teenagers have not developed adequate coping tools to appropriately deal with episodes of sadness, anxiety and frustrations. From our side as parents we can only be open, honest and non-judgmental about matters concerning him because it will help us to be more in tune with his needs and to facilitate a trusting relationship.
What I have been clinging onto is the fact that on occasions I see my baby boy emerging from what seems to be a ‘Hulk’ moment. And then I’m right there with open arms grabbing the opportunity to hug and kiss my rapidly growing boy. He is still my boy, the kind hearted, thoughtful, gentleman whose love language is affection. That’s when I know my boy is going to be okay…he’s struggling to cope with all these new emotions and teenage hormones but he’s going to be okay. We get to cuddle up while binge watching KUWTK in bed and everything in the whole world is just fine. Or him and his dad would each lay sprawled out on the couch, screaming and jumping up while watching the rugby and they’d share a moment of the familiar father and son bonding time that I’m sure both of them misses so much when he’s in a mood. What we can look forward to according to research, is that this phase doesn’t last forever. A study that was done by a team of Dutch researches monitored 500 teenage boys and girls between the ages 13-16. It found that girls has a “cognitive empathy”, the ability to consider other people’s feelings that begins to increase from the age of 13 and boys don’t gain this ability until about the age of 15. In fact they noted that boys of 13-16 actually showed a temporary decline in “affective empathy”, the ability to recognize and respond to other people’s feelings. And this decline may be due to a rise in testosterone, which can increase the desire for power and dominance and decrease emotional empathy. WOW! So according to this study his affectionate characteristics will restore itself as he gets older. THANK GOD FOR THAT!!
Something that I’ve learned on the first night after giving birth to my daughter while still in the maternity ward at N1 City Medi clinic. I’ve learned that as the person who gave birth to her, I was embedded with a deep rooted maternal instinct that automatically kicked in the moment I was aware of her. That instinct that was there before she was even born, will warn me…caution me…notify me of things not said or seen with the eye. It even gives me contentment when there is nothing to worry about. My daughter was born with a stridor (it’s a high-pitched squeaky sound that newborn babies make when breathing in and it gets louder when they are laying on their backs.) It’s caused by excess tissue around the larynx and is harmless. It just disappears as time goes by…I’m not even sure when exactly hers disappeared. But being a mom again after 8 years I was frantically worried at first about this sound that my newborn baby was making. I was stressed, I was anxious, I was SCARED. Almost like I felt now that my son has reached puberty. And you know the advice and support that I got from nursing staff and other patients didn’t help me at all. That first night in the maternity ward was scary as hell because my baby’s breathing was loud when everything else was quiet.
The Doctors did some test to rule out any serious concerns and assured me that it’s actually very common for newborns but still it was something strange for me and the other mothers. The night before we went home an intern nurse helped out at the hospital. She told me that I should not take it lightly and should take my baby to Red Cross children’s hospital as the Doctors at N1 city is just saying stuff to shut parents up. A serious accusation that I didn’t take much note of at first (I sensed that she deliberately bad-mouthed them for some personal reason of her own), but it bothered me later on that night. We went home after two days and of course we prayed and I asked God to give me peace and direction about this issue. And then even though people around me were concerned and unnecessary panicked, trying to put panic in me as well, I got calmness. I followed my instinct and didn’t worry about it. Princess went through all the stages of her toddler years in excellent health. I had a feeling that she was going to be fine…I did not have to panic and she was.
My son is in a complicated stage of growing up. It’s scary. But I know my boy…my instinct tells me that because his dad and I have been praying and is still praying for him he’ll be fine. God is telling me ‘don’t be worried…you’ll get through this.’ When you know in your heart that you’ve raised your children to the best of your ability and you’ve instilled in them biblical principles you must remember that those qualities will be inside of them always. Don’t doubt your capability as a parent. Yes. It’s good to listen to advice. We all need guidance, but no one knows your child like you do. Grandparents, aunts and uncles can pray and support, but only you will know what really lies within your child’s heart. Only you will know if and when it’s time to panic or have peace about a situation. I’m confident that my Starboy will grow up and through this stage to be a caring sensitive man just like his dad. For now I’ll be here…next to him…supporting and loving him madly!!
PS I just love the role Tracee Ellis Ross plays in #Black-ish. She rocks as a modern mommy!! Go Rainbow:-)