By: Michele Timmons
Sometimes parenting a teenager makes me feel like I am raising a "good twin" and an "evil twin", or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Generally speaking, when a teenager's "evil side" takes charge—a snippy remark or the rolling of the eyes—it simply means they are going through a stage in life. In other words, it's normal. They are spreading their wings and learning to fly. It's important for them to push away from us because it helps us prepare for them to leave the nest. I must say, there are days when I am definitely ready for my 17-year-old to fly the coop. While I am sure to miss him when he heads off to college in less than 12 months, I can feel the time is just about right, and I know he (and I) will be okay after he goes.
Just so you know, my family is chock-full of testosterone. I don’t have much personal experience handling teenage girls, so I reached out to a friend (who also happens to be raising "evil twins" at the moment) for advice on girls.
Here are (our) survival strategies for maintaining sanity when the “evil twin” is in charge.
Quit snarling back. When Cujo snarls, my first inclination is to snarl back. While it works in animal packs, this doesn’t work so well with teenagers. When a person is angry, worried, or afraid, their "thinking brain" shuts down and they will move into “fight or flight” mode. Snarling is fight mode. When we snarl back, we just fuel the fire. A calm and quiet (but firm) voice is a much more effective way to get a message across to an angry teen.
Parenting Angry Teens, by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed. D., is a terrific resource to help parents better understand and manage angry teens. The advice she offers is real and practical. I especially like her suggestion to “take it seriously, but not personally.” This is a real challenge for parents because when kids are arguing with us, it feels personal.
eHow.com has a great article called "How to Cheer Up a Moody Teenager". In this article, eHow Coordinator, Judy Ford offers great advice to help parents think of ways to connect with their kids without the old “What’s wrong? Nothing is wrong” routine. Check it out here.
Get tips for helping helping kids discover what they love to do here.
Get more tips for dealing with parent-child conflict here.
Tell Us: Are you dealing with “evil twins” in your household? How do you keep them at bay?_______________________________________________________________________
1. Parenting Angry Teens by Marie Hartwell-Walker, Ed.
2. How to Cheer Up a Moody Teenager" by Judy Ford.
3. National Institute of Mental Health: Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
4. Image via Carlos Varela on Flick'r.
5. "Hulk Up Close and Personal" image via Kiwanja on Flick'r.