thought that upon Older Boy entering the teenage years, parenting would get easier in the sense that it’s not that hands-on, high energy, goalie parent thing like when they were little.
What I’m starting to realize is that my job just got much more difficult.
Problem is, I remember all the shit I pulled when I was a teen (my mother will without question verify this). Numbskull stuff. Stuff that when considered long enough, makes me thankful that I’m still alive.
In short, I was an idiot with a teenage brain. Which is exactly why I’m so worried now that I have one of my very own. And I feel relatively clueless as to what to do.
I’m not afraid to make unpopular decisions as a parent. He doesn’t have to like me and I feel certain that he probably won’t for awhile. But I wanted a little more guidance and maybe a better understanding of why kids do what they do. So I did what I always do – I went to the bookstore.
There are a million books out there on parenting. I wanted one that would be honest and real and not shelter me from the things I needed to know. I wanted something based on facts and science. That’s when I stumbled on NurtureShock, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Flipping through the book, there it was, the chapter I so desperately needed -The Science of Teenage Rebellion.
I should probably have prefaced this with the fact that Older Boy is not a bad kid. Not at all. He’s testing the waters of personal autonomy and making decisions for himself. I know this is normal. In fact, I’d probably worry if I had a compliant little follower who didn’t rebel. Plus, I’m kind of bossy (read: control freak) so I tend to pontificate a little more than necessary.
One thing I learned that surprised me was that the need for autonomy occurs a lot earlier than I expected. I thought when kids were 17 or 18 would be the peak time for rebellion. Wrong. According to this book, the need for autonomy peaks around age 14-15. So maybe he’s pretty normal after all. But that isn’t making my job any easier.
I had another surprise – arguing is good. Personally, I find it exhausting and highly stressful. And from my perspective as an only child, well I just don’t get it. But the book equated arguing with honesty – a fact that apparently we as parents don’t realize (See, stress and exhaustion above). And the biggest surprise of all – certain types of fighting are actually a sign of respect.
Maybe I’m loved after all.