With teenagers, keep calm and parent on

Interacting with a teenager is a little like dealing with a two-year-old. The fuller his tummy is, the less likely the conversation will end in a blowup.

And the more sleep he’s gotten, the more likely you’ll make it through without hearing “Why?” fifteen zillion times. Still, somehow, he’ll think you’re the one who asks too many questions.

“You ask too many questions,” my teenager informed me recently with exasperation in his voice.

Evidently, my one inquiry, “How are you doing?” put him over the top.

I understood. I also used to cringe at questions from my folks.

Like him, I probably ended many conversations with a huffy, “May I be excused?” (teenspeak for “I’m done talking”).

Nevertheless, I tried to explain to him that dialogue builds relationships.

Parents are, by nature, in the past. Trends come back in style because kids don’t want to be like their outdated parents. My attire likely looks more like my grandfather’s than my father’s.

A piece of trivia came up at dinner recently: “A hotel was built in Hawaii in 1919.”

“Wasn’t that when you were born, Dad?” one son asked in a line of joking that – ironically – never gets old.

“No, he was 1914,” my eldest son chimed in.

Some joking about my age is more innocent, such as the time my 7-year-old daughter asked me with all seriousness, “Dad, what year were you born? Do you remember?”

The older I get, the more birthdays mean, and the more I want to embellish them.

Recently, my wife and I were planning a family birthday outing for our soon-to-be fifteen-year-old.

“Why?!?” the teenager asked, channeling his inner toddler.

“We want to celebrate with you,” I said.

“I want to celebrate with my friends,” he retorted, in no uncertain terms.

Anyone who has lived with hormones knows they never stay constant. It wasn’t much later that he backtracked, “Well, maybe we can go out to dinner or something.”

At that point his stomach was full and his frontal lobe was developed just enough to remember that he will indeed get hungry again.

It’s uncanny how much we all can turn, for the better, when we just let a little out. I’m not the same person after I do. He’s not the same person after he does.

When teenagers are diffusing and refuting, it’s important to keep calm and parent on, the Brits might say. Things only become a big deal when you make them a big deal.

Letting a little rope out also helps.

“How late did you stay up?” I asked when I picked him up the morning after a night at a friend’s house.

“Guess,” he invited.

“Five a.m.” I conjectured.

With wide eyes he asked, “How did you know?”

I was a teenager once, I explained.

I, too, had inquisitive parents. Then, I became one.

I know he’ll soon get annoyed again by questions from his old man. I also know he would get more alarmed if I quit asking them.

 

Kevin Thompson writes for The Boerne Star in the Texas hill country. He can be reached at kevin@kwt.info.

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6 Responses to “With teenagers, keep calm and parent on”


  1. 1 Amy Stroup September 12, 2018 at 08:37

    It’s happening 😂😂

    >

  2. 3 Mike Avery September 12, 2018 at 09:12

    Great thoughts KT.

  3. 4 Toby September 12, 2018 at 16:08

    Good article! We are in the same season of life and enjoy the rollercoaster ride of those emotions/hormones. We too will stay the course and realize we are not doing anything wrong just trying to endure until they realize we are only wanting the best for them.

  4. 6 jessestroup September 13, 2018 at 11:22

    Man Kevin, A great one! Keep the conversations going. Don’t worry about the brief rejections. We will jump on ground that we believe is able to hold us up. Jesse Jesse Stroup Director of Spiritual Care

    JesseStrouplive@yahoo.com 6300 Harry Hines Blvd. BKB 101 Dallas, TX 75235 (888) 767-6363

    >


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