Dude...I've been there.

Vawny (Siobhan) - posted on 06/06/2012 ( 4 moms have responded )

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I'm lucky. My kids are leaving their teen years and have turned out wonderfully! But God knows it wasn't always lookin’ so promising--especially when I became the SINGLE mom of two teens.. (Sometimes I still can't believe I survived...that all three of us survived!)

I'd like to start by saying, (most emphatically) Moms--DO choose your battles. Most of the things about your teen that you’re coming un-glued about, (at least internally) are NOTHING in the scheme of things. Do not make the mistake of being "MOMMY INTENSE!" There is no surer way to drive your teen away--and most likely in the dreaded direction you were desperately trying to avert!

Believe it or not, your REACTION to things—ALL things related to the issue at hand or not, is one of the biggest predictors of their reaction to things—that’s to include their reaction to you!

Be stable, be cool, be able to have feelings without acting them out and ROLE MODEL THIS BEHAVIOR FOR THEM! At least half the time you think THEY’RE the ones being dramatic and intense, YOU’RE the one who’s setting the stage Mom. Sorry. Just sayin..

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Trish - posted on 06/11/2012

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I agree with you 100% and I thank you for taking the time to post that advice. The way it stands right now, the relationship you are describing exits between my son and his parents. But you have reminded me that I need to be calm as I am the type to over react in order to maintain it. He is a pretty sensitive guy and I would risk creating chaos in our happy home if I am not careful. Thank you! Your words are brilliant!

Vawny (Siobhan) - posted on 06/08/2012

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Hahaa--well then he's a relatively normal 13 year old boy. My son was also "Way too interested" at that age, at least in my opinion. I was a Family Service Counselor in an Addictions Clinic for eight years, back in the 80's and 90's. The knowledge and skills gained from that profession were, and are priceless--they saved me...saved US. The fact is he's doing what comes naturally and we do live in a society that constantly throws sex in his face--not a lot you can do about that. I kept the lines of communication open though, which meant I had to be able to then handle whatever he told me. That's the part that a lot of parents, (moms in particular) aren’t ready for. They have this preconceived notion of how great their relationship with their child will be if they're able to have that kind of sharing. Well I'm here to tell ya, it's a heavy burden. However, it's one well worth any preliminary discomfort, if only due to the fact that your “Nipping a potential problem in the bud” that'll come back to haunt you ten-fold once it's completely out of control.

Nevertheless, I'm sticking to my guns on this--if you can learn how to not "React" but to act--appropriately, calmly, etc.., then you'll ultimately get what you're looking for. We can't control them--and the older they get the more your relationship will deteriorate, AND the more he'll act out if you try to control him. But you can teach by example, how he should handle himself--that starts with handling his emotions; they're ultimately "Drivin his bus" anyway. If you come unglued, ranting and raving, or even what he perceives as your ranting and raving, you'll get NOWHERE fast. He'll go into the classic male defensive stance and block you out completely. You'll thus be dubbed another crazy bi_c_ and nothing you say will be taken seriously. Sounds harsh and I'm sorry about that, but we’re dealing with reality here, not the way we'd all like it to be.

Next, but no less important is too instill in him that he's wise, that he can make good choices because you know him and you know he's more than capable, and THAT YOU BELIEVE IN HIM AND HIS ABILITY TO MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES. Then when you have an opening, another words when he brings it up, (because now he feels safe to talk to you--you didn't freak out and he knows you think he's awesome, smarter than a guy who chooses poorly, etc.., ) talk about condoms. ; ) No, I'm not being facetious, nor am I contradicting myself. That's still a good and wise choice for him should he decide to get involved sexually, (if he hasn't already).
We have to be real here--I'm not telling you to encourage him to have sex, I'm suggesting you approach this from an "I'm for you not against you" angle so he'll at least come to you. He's already waaay interested in sex, so pretending he's not, or that you'll be able to somehow suddenly "Scold him" out of being interested, is a set up for you and for him. If he feels emotionally safe around you, he WILL start making better and better choices, because he has YOU as his biggest fan and best advocate—nothing helps them to have a strong sense of boundaries like having a parent who’s in control of their own emotions YET STILL HAS THEIR OWN EMOTIONS. If I child’s home life doesn’t feel crazy, they have the ability to make sense out of the rest of the world, and out of their own reactions to it. Our best chance with teens in my opinion, is to meet them where they are and go from there. Anything else is just plain "Flyin blind" and will get you about as far.

HOWEVER…I did NOT say that I think you should buy him condoms and tell him you think he’ll make the right choices and walk away—umm...NOOO! I meet a lot of moms who go way too far in the other direction and misguidedly think they’re instilling self-esteem by letting these young guys make all their own choices, thus, spoiling them into demanding little dictators. I DID NOT SAY THAT--NO I DIDN’T…RE-READ ABOVE. What I did say, was in my experience, both personally and professionally, coming at them from an angle of respect and saying something like, “Look, we’re both mature here—let’s think about this. Here’s what I think… what do you think?” and then LET HIM TALK!!! Leave it alone for 48 hours after you tell him he “Could be right…” and watch what happens next! You’re brilliantly wise teen will suddenly appear in front as you dumbfounded think, “Who are you and what have you done with my child??” Out of the blue he’ll say, “Hey mom, I’ve been thinkin…” and you’ll see that you’ve done a GREAT JOB parenting him all these years. But give the poor hormonally challenged thing a chance at some dignity here, K? His wise old soul will shine! Keep practicing this and it’ll get easier and easier, to the point of being intuitive for you—I promise.

Added bonus: You’ll learn things you about you that will shock and amaze you, and you’ll have gained a skill that can’t be quantified.

Kristin - posted on 06/08/2012

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LOL that is awesome advivce my 16 year old is turning out pretty good i just worry avbout the next 2 but they are a ways from teen years yet one is 6 and one is 1. Hopefully i will be able to survive those 2 teen years as well.

Trish - posted on 06/08/2012

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Thanks for that advice. Someone said the same to me when I was pregnant, and now I have a 22 year old on her way to Harvard!!! Now, about the 13 year old boy.... well, that's a different story! He is WAAAY too interested in sex....

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