What parents feel
Having a teenager can make you feel fear, rage and lots of pride.
Just when you think you’ve got this parent thing sorted, along comes a teenager to send your emotions on scary new paths. Here are some of the things you might be feeling, adapted from the book Raising Emotionally Intelligent Teenagers by Elias, Tobias and Friedlander.

Bewilderment You have just received 10 minutes of explanation of recent phone conversations your teenagers have had about all that is going on with their friends.
Puzzlement You were just part of a conversation that ended with “Thanks, Dad (or Mom),” but you have no idea why or what should have led up to that statement. You instinctively reach for your wallet and car keys.
Disbelief Your teenagers have told you that they have forgotten something that you have reminded them about many, many times.
Rage Your teenagers overtly endangered themselves directly or indirectly, including actions that led to a public threat to their (or your) reputation or identity.
Embarrassment They wear an unbelievable outfit in public.
Relief They called to tell you they arrived, even if it is not where they said they would be. Followed soon with worry about their safe return.
Shame You lied to your teenagers, not for their own benefit but for yours. Or you got caught setting a seriously bad example.
Fondness Your teenager did something caring for you, even if accidental.
Pride Something happened that led you to feel good and think, “That’s my kid!”
Joy You see them constructively happy.
Guilt You made a decision based on your upbringing or fears, not your teen’s situation.
Warmth A positive family meal or outing makes you feel fuzzy inside.
Anger They defy your authority… or what’s left of it.
Envy You find yourself wishing you could do, or ever did do, something they’re doing.

Why he pushes your buttons

We have standards and rules about how to live as well as conditioned beliefs about certain behaviours. This leads us to jump to conclusions or have rigid perceptions about our son’s behaviour and its outcome. Sometimes this is helpful and at other times it results in ongoing conflict. It’s important to acknowledge that we almost always have an ‘agenda’ when dealing with our kids.

Our agenda is made up of:
  • Where we’re ‘at’ in the present: our mood, our stressors, our distractions.
  • Our past experiences.
  • Our expectations of who should be doing what and when.
  • How we cope with emotions and self-regulate them.
  • Our general assumptions and fears.

We have the best intentions and they get thwarted by our agenda and that of the kid. We ‘miss’ each other.

A few classic assumptions parents make:
  • He’s doing this to irritate me.
  • I’ve told him/warned him before.
  • He can’t be trusted.
  • He is manipulating me or dad.
  • What will others think of me/us?
  • He thinks the whole world revolves around him.
  • He’s embarrassing me.
  • He should know better.
  • He doesn’t listen.
  • I’m always left to cope on my own.
  • I’m a failure at this.
  • If I give in now he’ll run amok.
  • He’s going to be fat.
  • I always have to fight for what I want.
  • He’s going to be a useless adult.
  • He’s the death of me.
How does your teen make you feel? Are they alien beings to you? Or are you perfectly in sync?

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