At some point, you will stare at the gangling, long-legged thing on your sofa and shudder at the thought you use to kiss those once little toes. That little child who use to snuggle into you now snaps at the slightest thing or growls as you approach him. Welcome to the teenage years. It will seem the more you try, the more they growl. You try and chat to them like you use to but instead of chirpy conversation, you get one-word answers and that look. The more and more you try, the more uncommunicative they become.
Also, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, comes the news that you are the world's worst parent and it is solely your fault for every single bad thing in their life. It is at this point you might actually start to believe it all. Before you resign yourself to the title of "World's Worst Parent," let me first reassure you that you are probably not the world's worst. Your dear little snuggles have hormones rushing around their bodies creating all kinds of mischief. Mix that with new found freedom of teenage life, new/old friendship dynamics, exams, careers choices and anything and everything else. It's no wonder they are acting differently.
Remember, you are not the only one dealing with this and even the most thoughtfully and well-mannered child will at some point test the grounds of attitude.
With all that in mind here are 5 tips for coping with the lovely new found attitude.
1. Defuse with humor
No, you don't have to turn into the next show-stopping comedian but how you react to something can make it go one of two ways. As long as you don't mock or ridicule, sometimes an argument can be defused with humor. This gives you both time to calm down. It doesn't have to be just arguments that this can work on either. You know your situation best so see if there are ways you can defer situations or get a point across that uses humor.
2. Pick your battles
As your children are growing, you teach them different manners and behaviors. As they start to test their teenage life, they at times shrug or tut. Your first reaction is to shout, get angry and correct them. Sometimes it's good for both them and your sanity if you pick your battles. Ignore and carry on your way. If it starts to escalate then let them know the new behavior isn't acceptable.
When your child is going through the teens, it can seem like you spend the whole time asking them to do this, don't do that, please do this now as I've asked 100 times, etc. So when they do something, let them know you're thankful. You don't have to go into overkill as they will see through it and will have the opposite result. But, by saying thank you when it's needed, and meaning it, it will show them you are not always nagging them and you are human.
4. Shake it up
There might be times when you have to dish out punishment. Yes, it is horrible. Yes, you're both going to go through it. But, put your big parent pants on and get on with it. You are the parent. But when you do have to enforce punishment, make sure it's fitting for the offense and don't dish out the same thing each time. Taking away mobiles doesn't always work when they are used to it. Try taking away chargers instead. Be unpredictable so that they do know what the punishment will be. If they don't know what you are going to do it might be enough to stop them in the first place.
Sometimes life just seems to happen and all of a sudden you are in a situation of your child doing a behavior that is not acceptable. But before you dive off the deep end, and hopefully before the situation, make sure everyone knows what is acceptable and what is not. We are good at teaching little ones all the little things but at some point, it stops. One of the easiest ways is watching TV with them. Most evenings, a show is on with a teenager doing something. It's an ideal time to bring the subject up and discuss it with your child.
Hopefully these tips - with your willingness, patience and understanding - will help in the dreaded teenage years. But remember, it doesn't last forever and you were a teenager once and you and your parents survived.
Kairen Varker is a single mom to her daughter, 17 and son, 14. She divorced more than 10 years ago and has since learned what it is like to be a single parent. She created "Confessions of a Single Mum" where she writes about why it is OK to be a single mom, managing a family, dating and more.