bipolar mom and teensI was watching a show last night “My Teenager’s A Nightmare” and I must say I was shocked at these kids’ behavior!  I was taken back by the aggression and fighting going on in this house with the parents and these sisters that were 14 and 12. I was asking myself two questions, who is the parent, and why is everyone so bitter, angry, and abusive?  Then I began to remember being that age myself and felt a little sad for them.

I could see through all the screaming and carrying on, all those girls wanted was to be loved.  Not that their parents did not love them, but it was clear they felt a tad bit unloved.

Earlier in the evening I had actually just had a battle of wills (and mouth!) with my own 14 year old son.  I take pride in how I cope with his mood swings and tantrums.  I can be a screamer, but when my son is clearly distressed by something in his life (or something I have done) then I make a point to remain calm and try to talk him through whatever may be bothering him.  This frequently bites me in the rump but that’s okay, at least he has a voice in this house.  After all, when I was 14, if someone had listened to me a little more, I wouldn’t have been pregnant at 15!

I was so difficult I moved 6 different times in 3 years.  I lived with various family members and when they couldn’t handle me, they just sent me somewhere else.  I felt extremely abandoned and unloved.  I remember thinking to myself, “if only someone would care, maybe I wouldn’t act this way!”

I get a lot of grief in the way I handle my own teenager, and that is okay.  The people giving me grief now clearly didn’t do it very well back then, so I don’t really care much what they say.  I had a heavy heart going to bed after watching that show and realizing how  many parents are struggling with their teenager.  Kids and teenagers have the same feelings and emotions we have as adults, the difference is theirs is magnified and they don’t deserve to be screamed at, belittled, and punished for being human.  If I were screamed at and punished every time I had a bad attitude I’d be black and blue all over!  That’s not the point though.

The point is, after having this massive fight with my own teenager and taking so much time and energy to love him, talk to him, and calm him down, I still felt as though I was failing him somehow.  I want him to be secure and feel as though his home is a place to be himself and be loved regardless of his moods.  Watching these parents scream and carry on at their girls made it a little easier to see that while I might not be doing the best job raising a teenager, at least he knows I love him and I try to always listen to him, even if I don’t agree.

There are a lot of parenting books out there that tell you how to cope with your teenager, but from what I have seen, in the end it all comes down to love and communication.  Once you lose either of those important parenting tools, you’re basically screwed.

Photo by Mike Baird, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.