It’s A Shock Alright

 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.

Har-dee-har-har.

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.

 

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