yes, teens are crazy (and parents too)
My thirteen-year-old looked concerned when he caught me reading Dr. Michael Bradley’s book:
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:
- 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.
- 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?).
- 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.
- Thou Shalt Listen even as Thine Own Child Shouts. Because shouting back isn’t listening.
- 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.
- 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.
- Thou Shalt Vanquish Thy Foolish Pride. Embrace mature pride by building a connection with your child, not winning the power play.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill (or hit, or threaten to hit, even if you may entertain thoughts thereof. . .). Enough said.
- 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.
- Thou Shalt Honor Thy Child’s Identity (Even Though it Maketh You Ill). Choose your battles wisely, and support your child through the rest.
- To Thine Own Self Be True. Hold on to your values and lead by example.
- 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.