Last week’s blog laid the vital foundation for raising teenagers. Now, the fun can begin!
Teens can be challenging and emotionally draining. So, how do you survive the constant battles and hormonal outbursts? Humor! (Is anyone surprised that I would say that?).
Quite often there is a power shift that occurs when kids become teens. Just to ease the tension, some parents give in and allow their teenagers way more power than they should. It’s hard to blame them because teens can sap the strength of even the most seasoned parent. But, by using humor, you can re-establish your authority without exhausting yourself. My method can be summed up like this: “Give your teen more grief than they give you.” Seriously. Get a needle and thread and embroider that on a pillow.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
I worked as a manager in a large grocery store while my kids were in high school. One day, my firstborn’s health class had a tour scheduled in my store. Kirsten was at that age where she knew it all and she found her parents to be pretty “lame”. So, on the morning of the tour, she proceeded to give me a long list of rules for my behavior. Frankly, it annoyed me greatly. But, I listened in wide-eyed innocence while she went on and on. She even yelled, “Do not embarrass me!” as she drove out of sight.
So, I walked into work and visited every department in the store before Kirsten’s class arrived. When they showed up, I did an innocent microphone ad (our signal) and then one-by-one, the entire store followed suit, EXCEPT they used Kirsten’s name in all their ads. The creativity was astounding (especially from those who had teens of their own!).
“We have apples on sale back in produce, Kirsten says an apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
“Our summer Barbie dolls are in, Kirsten especially loves the one with the pink dress!”
Oh, there were pizzas for Kirsten in the deli, fish health tips from Kirsten in the seafood department, and Kirsten’s favorite steaks in the meat department. The ads went on and on.
Halfway through, a very mad teenager came stomping back to my department with her hands on her hips. I, of course, was innocently working. I looked up and said, “What?” She sputtered and pointed her finger at me. I said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.” and continued working.
Mom: 1 point, Kirsten: zero.
When my teens told me that I was the worst mom in the world, instead of crying (like some of my friends did when their kids said it to them) I simply held a kitchen spatula up like a trophy and began a very lengthy and flowery acceptance speech: “I’d like to thank my children for this wonderful honor, I’ve trained long and hard to become the worst mom in the world …” This drove them crazy. Apparently, I was supposed to be sad and give in to their demands.
Another point goes to mom.
When out in public and the kids got mad because they NEEDED something that I wouldn’t buy, I would look at them very seriously and say, “I think you’re old enough to know the truth. Do you see that lady over there? She is your real mother. Go ask her for money.” They’d moan, “Moooom!”
And, mom is on a roll!
When one child was sure I was giving preferential treatment to one of their siblings I would say, “You are absolutely right, I was hoping you wouldn’t notice. You see, your sister is really a princess from another country and we are just raising her until she’s 18 and can take the throne. Make sure you’re nice to her because she will become really rich and powerful one day.”
And, mom wins.
And, one final story: My friend Chris did the usual high school trick of telling his dad to drop him off a block away from school so he wouldn’t embarrass him. Chris’s dad, without missing a beat, drove not only all the way to the school, but up over the curb, onto the grass and all the way to the front door! Needless to say, Chris never disrespected his dad in that way again!
So, you see, the establishment of appropriate power and authority does not have to be a heavy, negative experience that leaves everyone angry and exhausted. Humor can get your point across without the raised voices and hurt feelings (besides, it’s WAY more fun).
One of the saddest stories I ever heard was told by famed humor writer, Erma Bombeck. Erma wrote very funny books about being a mom and raising kids (much like the bloggers of today). She received a letter from a mom in prison that said, “If I had only known that I could laugh about these things, I wouldn’t be where I am now.” The constant stress of raising her kids had pushed this lady over the edge and she had done something horrible. No one told her that motherhood didn’t have to be done perfectly. And, no one had ever told her that it was OK to laugh.
I’m telling you now, you don’t have to be perfect and you can and SHOULD laugh while raising teens. I’m not sure how much fun my kids had going through their teen years, but I had a blast.
Have a funny teen story? Share it with us!