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When teens go crazy

 
How do you cope with teens when their behaviour defies logic?
By Marlon Abrahams

Pic: iStock

Article originally in Parent24
With Hannah rapidly approaching the scary teen years I’m particularly vigilant for strange teen behaviour. Luckily, I am also able to remember that weird place we all go to when we hit our teens. Nonsensical trips into our own mystical world where nothing really makes any sense and, oddly enough, doesn’t need to, are commonplace.

Just when you least expect it...

I attended a braai recently which was also attended by a single dad and his 14-year-old daughter. It was a very pleasant experience with good food and drink and great company. I did notice the teen sulking into her BlackBerry in a corner of the garden, but didn’t pay too much attention to it. After a while she came up to her dad and whispered something into his ear. He shook his head and she walked off.

About 30 minutes later they guy noticed that his princess was missing. What followed was almost the same as a melodramatic movie. Little miss 14-year-old had been sulking because her 19-year-old boyfriend was insisting that she come visit him immediately (it was, at that point, about 10pm). He lives about an hour’s drive away. After dad shook his head indicating that he was not going to drive her; the gentlemanly boyfriend threatened to kill himself if she did not come immediately. So, naturally the unlicensed 14-year-old Florence Nightingale steals the keys to dad’s Beamer and hotfoots it into the night to rescue psycho boyfriend.

I was at a loss for words. Instantly I imagined one of my daughters pulling this number on me and I sat long and hard trying to imagine how I would deal with it. This while the dad, after getting onto the phone with psycho boyfriend was told to “mind his own business” (and I am being very polite here), set off in pursuit of Princess Nightingale.

In the end, all’s well that ends well, but a million things could have gone very wrong that night, and any parent would know what I’m referring to. I remembered some of the things I got up to as a teen, and to be honest, they weren’t much different to what she did.

I have absolutely no doubt that my girls are going to turn what’s left of my black hair completely grey during their teen years and I’ve realised a long time ago that it’s impossible to monitor them 24/7. The only thing, in my opinion, you can do is to prepare them for what can go wrong and make them know that you will always be there for them when they make mistakes. The last thing you want is for them to run away because they’re too scared to come home and face the music.

There was clearly a bigger issue going on between this trio. Emotional blackmail, parental guilt, immature teens, all played a part. Whether imagined or not, the world of teens is a place where rational thinking rarely wins over passionate needs and desires fuelled by raging hormones. Holding them back or restricting them only leads to new and innovative ways to break free. That is why I like to think that arming them with knowledge and allowing them to make their mistakes, knowing that you’ll always pick up the pieces, is about the only safe bet we have as parents. I do hope I’m right.

Were you sometimes irrational as a teen? Do you expect that of your child?

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2014-04-16 13:08

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