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yes, teens are crazy (and parents too)

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My thirteen-year-old looked concerned when he caught me reading Dr. Michael Bradley’s book:

Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!  Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind

I’ll bet you can guess what he said:

“. . . . whhaaaaat’s this??”

While I assured my son that he need not worry, that I was preparing a parenting workshop for other families, I did appreciate this book’s framework for challenges that are sure to come.  Dr. Bradley gives a much needed (sometimes scary) wake-up call to parents.  The premise is based upon research revealing two findings about adolescent brain growth:

  1. The most advanced part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) doesn’t complete its development until adolescence ends.  The good news:  we’re still able to shape our teens’ rapidly expanding brains.  
  2. In adolescence, this important part of the brain basically shuts down when the impulsive (limbic) part of the brain is firing madly.  Teens’ brains are not yet wired to moderate impulses and understand the outcomes of their actions.  

So the truth is, if you think your teenager is brain damaged or crazy, (s)he technically is.  Temporarily. 

With much more depth than I can do justice here, Dr. Bradley offers these Ten Commandments of Parenting Your Teen.  Even if you don’t have adolescents, you might find these relationship pointers helpful (because let’s face it, we all still act like teenagers once in awhile, don’t we?). 

  1. Thou Shalt be as the Dispassionate Cop Unto Thine Own Child:  Be Cool, Not the Fool.   Emulate a benevolent police officer keeping the peace.  If we’re snarky, the messenger takes the blame.   
  2. Thou Shalt Listen even as Thine Own Child Shouts.  Because shouting back isn’t listening.
  3. Thou Shalt Not Shout:  Speak thou Wisely.  90 percent of what we say in critical conversations is useless, loud, and often imflammatory.  The presentation of the message is the message. 
  4. Thou Shalt add Fifteen Minutes to Every Interaction Involving thy Teen.  Build in time for emergency flareups, or delay decisions until you can think them through.  Don’t be pressured to cave in.
  5. Thou Shalt Vanquish Thy Foolish Pride.  Embrace mature pride by building a connection with your child, not winning the power play. 
  6. Thou Shalt Not Kill (or hit, or threaten to hit, even if you may entertain thoughts thereof. . .).  Enough said.
  7. Thou Shalt Apologize at Every Opportunity.  Apologizing earns respect through your authenticity, and it allows you to sneak in lessons about humility, honesty, courage, and self-discovery. 
  8. Thou Shalt Honor Thy Child’s Identity (Even Though it Maketh You Ill).  Choose your battles wisely, and support your child through the rest.
  9. To Thine Own Self Be True.  Hold on to your values and lead by example.
  10. Know Thou, This Too Shall Pass.  You’ve done colic, diapers, potty training and moved on.  You have the long term perspective.  Your teen may not.

This book is helping me re-think some of my approaches as we embark upon these roller coaster years.   So far, I’m actually looking forward to it. 

Do you have teenagers?  What would you list on your ten commandments?

This is part of WFMW at Rocks in My Dryer.

Creative Commons License photo credit: www.eddie-lawrance.co.uk

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7 comments to yes, teens are crazy (and parents too)

  • Mama Lacy

    Just hang on and enjoy the ride. I find teens rather amazing and interesting, even after many years of teaching them. A firm but fair hand is very helpful to them.

  • Sure wish I’d had these commandments when my son was a teenager. He’s 23 now, and I’m here to tell ya that I lived through those teen years, and my boy turned out to be a wonderful young man. I would say that patience is more than virtue for parents; it’s absolutely essential during the teen years. Your commandments rightly suggest that a parent has more “power” when he/she remains calm, patient, and ready to listen. Easier said than done, though! :-)

    Cindy L’s last blog post..Addicted to perfection?

  • I find brain research so fascinating. Parts of the frontal lobe, the parts necessary for good decision making, do not develop in males fully until 25. That must account for all those boys who broke my heart by not wanting to date me from the ages of 13 to 24. They just didn’t have the brain power to realize I was such a catch.

    conversemomma’s last blog post..When To Keep Silent and When To Roar

  • Great post! Mine will be thirteen in June, and is starting high school a year early. Let the games begin! I’ve printed this 10 commandment list. Thanks for the good advice!

    Carey’s last blog post..Works For Me Wednesday – Free Cat Litter

  • I enjoyed this…my daughter turns 12 in two days and I think I’ll need to post these ten commandments somewhere before too long. Thanks for a bit of perspective!

    Josie’s last blog post..Hidden Gems

  • pam

    So glad you all found these helpful. I share them because I need them too.

  • Carol H.

    Number 10 is the one always to think of (with your mouth shut of course) when you can’t remember the rest.

    I would add #11: Thou shalt attend worship weekly as a family. (Because I didn’t do this one when mine were younger. Wish I had so that it was now a habit! All that I am reading in my role as an educator of children points to attending worship together as being so important for later in their lives.)
    –Carol

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