Yesterday morning I met two colleagues at the copier. They were discussing their teenage children. One immediately asked me, “What mean things are your kids saying to you?” I honestly replied, “They aren’t.” She sarcastically came back with, “I know, your kids are good.”
Many, many years ago I learned a valuable lesson from the La Leche League group I was involved in and that is as parents we need to be our children’s biggest supporters. Rather than focusing on the negatives about their personality, let them overhear you sharing a wonderful story about them. Also, talk about them in private as you would if they were there with you. If I heard my children or husband talking about me the way I hear parents talk about their children, it would honestly break my heart. What is worse, I hear parents saying these awful things about their kids in front of them.
As my kids get older, they are developing their own opinions about life and yes, there are times that we disagree and times we get angry with each other. That same thing happens sometimes with adults. We disagree. However, with adults we back off before trying to control their every thought. Teenagers deserve the same respect and when they don’t receive it, they fire back, just like any adult would do.
Our children do grow up and they do form their own opinions about life. This doesn’t mean they are terrible. It means they are in a transition place from honoring and valuing every word you said to thinking for themselves. Would you want it to be any different? We want our children to think for themselves, yet many parents put their kids down for doing that exact thing. How can they win?
Stop and listen to your kids. Find out what they are really thinking. Remember they don’t have the experiences we do and sometimes they have to live life before they can come to similar thought patterns. Compromise. Remember that like all humans, they too want individual control over many of their own actions and beliefs. And please, please, do not put your children down. When you are about to say something ugly about them to another person, think hard about something you admire about them and share it instead. Remember that they are people who are at a challenging time in their life and still need their parent’s support. As a parent I always think, “As humans we NEED support and if our children can’t get it from us, they are going to look elsewhere for it.” Personally, I would rather work with my kids, I would rather find the amazingly good characteristics they possess, and I would rather have to change some of my judgements than risk them looking for others to give them the support they need because they can’t find it at home.
I do have good kids. I am not going to lie about that or try to find negative things to say about them so that I can fit into a conversation. I know it makes people uncomfortable. Later in the day one of the colleagues mentioned my kids being good again. Luckily the secretary was sitting with us and I said, “You have good kids, right?” (She has mentioned to me how wonderful they are many times.) She said, “Oh yes!” It was then that this colleague said, “Well, my daughter really is good too.” She then went on to mention many wonderful things about her. Wouldn’t it be nice if all our conversations about our kids were like this?
3 thoughts on “Teens Deserve Kind Words Too!”
You are absolutely right Cathy that kids will develop their opinions but just like we are entitled to ours, they are entitled to theirs. We don’t criticize other adults for having their own opinions and we shouldn’t discredit our children’s. My kids aren’t teens yet but I hope that my actions speak just as loud as my words. I honestly believe, and I often tell this to other parents, that children do not learn self-esteem on their own; we teach it to them by making their ideas important and by not speaking badly of them. It is also a two way street. Kids and teens are what they are, but it is also makes what them unique and rather than putting them down for their bad qualities, let’s give them credit for their good ones. In addition, they are our kids, and they are a younger mirror image of us.
Amen Cathy! Last night we went to a surprise BD party for my boss & my 3 were the only kids there. They were treated like royalty by the adults…asked about them and cared and when we left they all told me how well behaved and sweet natured my grands are. Treat them with love and respect and you in turn will get the same back! You and Steve are doing a marvelous job!
I think this post is fabulous, Cathy. I admire the beautiful family you've raised and the loving, respectful environment in your household. Have you ever thought of writing a parenting book? I have so much to learn from you and I think it's fantastic that you're leading by example. I hope other parents catch on xoxox