Tag Archives: teenager

Listen To The Wind

The other day, I wanted to strap my oldest little dude to a very uncomfortable table, pry open his ears and begin yelling until my words were imprinted on his brain like tiny footprints.* The most frustrating thing about raising little dudes and dudettes is when they don’t listen to you. Them not listening can make a tiny anthill rise to the size of Mt. Everest.

With that in mind, I started flipping through some books and reading some more newspaper articles. I found some insight I consider might actually work. The advice came from Dr. Kristin Rager (hey, that’s how I feel when my little dudes don’t listen), the director of adolescent medicine at Levine Children’s Hospital and the medical director of Teen Health Connection.

The first bit of advice she gives is to try and talk to your teen when you’re doing something else, such as cooking or working in the yard together, instead of sitting them down for a serious talk. Well, that throws out about 90 percent of my recent talks with my little dudes. I don’t know if I want to do this one, since I love the look on their faces when I tell them, “We have to talk.” in a very deep voice. Naw, this is about help, not my own need to create fear.

Rager also suggests that parents talk openly and listen calmly, even if you don’t agree with what your teenager is saying. Or even, I guess, if you can’t believe the level of stupidity flowing from the mouth of such a smart little dude. That’s going to be tough, considering how much I love the sound of my own voice.

Finally, (and I might be paraphrasing a bit more than normal here, but go with it) Rager suggests you stop telepathically broadcasting instructions to your teen. They just won’t get it. More specifically, she said it’s a good idea to explicitly tell your teen what your expectations and values are, rather than hope they absorb those values by osmosis. That never worked with math, when I slept with the book under the pillow, either. She wants parents to tell their teens straight out what they think about sex, drinking, drinking and driving, or using drugs and smoking. Not a bad idea. I’m all for more clear communication.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

— Richard

*That last little bit was a joke that only comic book geeks such as myself would get and, no, I’m not explaining it because I want to keep some shred of dignity.

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Dane Bramage? Nope. Teenager

As it turns out, my two oldest little dudes, ages 15 and 14, haven’t turned into complete drooling caricatures of themselves, without the good sense that God gave a bag of rocks. And crushed rocks at that. According to some new research, it seems as if there’s really something going on in their brains. Turns out, the area of the brain that’s responsible for decision making doesn’t really mature enough to start getting some use out of it until around 21 or 22.

During the high-school years, I’ve been trying to let my thumb off the little dudes a little so they can ready themselves for the decision making they have to do in college when they’re, hopefully, out of the house. Turns out, the reason they start spinning helplessly in circles when I let off is because their brains don’t work right. I just hope they don’t find out about this. They don’t need another excuse.

This was really brought home to me when I saw a great cartoon in the local newspaper. (Yes, I still subscribe to a newspaper. I used to be a newspaper reporter. I think it’s inertia, fueled by a sense of pity for a dying medium.) I’d love to reprint it here, but the artist charges money for reprints and I’m too cheap to pay for it. (Screams “I’ve never paid for it in my life!” Um, wrong kind of paid for it. Oh, sorry.) The cartoon is a diagram of a teenager’s brain, with a huge lobe for the birds and bees and another for rebellion, as well as teeny tiny glands for judgement, memory for chores and homework, and another for the ability to be seen in public with parents.

Sounds just a bit too familiar. I’m thinking the artist has been hanging around our house. Even if he hasn’t, he seems to have described perfectly the way my two oldest little dudes’ minds are working. Or not working as the case may be.

So, it looks like we’re in for a longer haul than we thought if their brains won’t be ready for independent operation until their 20s. Now if only we could find some way to make them listen to the advice we’re trying to give.

— Richard

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Grumpy In The Mornings

I hate mornings. Especially since I had to give up life as a caffiend (no more morning Diet Cokes). It used to be I would hit the snooze button, planning on it, so I would set the initial alarm to go off 18 minutes before I could get up so I could hit the snooze twice. Stupid, yes, but it worked. Sort of. Unfortunately, I seem to have passed that along to my little dudes.

My middle dude really hates to get up. We’ve set his alarm to bleeding-ear levels and he still just rolls over and starts to snooze. Since school won’t wait until he’s ready to get up before starting, this led to a number of conflicts. I’d yell at him to get up. He’d pretend to do so and then go back to sleep. I’d get angrier. Considering how bad my uncaffienated mood was, you can guess how well we got along in the mornings.

For the slow: not well. Not very well at all. Something had to change and since I knew he wasn’t going to do it, I figured it was up to me.

I decided to accept the fact that my middle dude can’t — or possibly just plain won’t — get up at all early. I now hope for the best (and occasionally he does surprise me by getting up on his own), and just expect the worst. I go into his room every morning and poke (lovingly) and prod (slightly gently) him awake with sweet (ish) words.

Actually, he’s sitting right next to me as I type this and is (slightly) disagreeing with all the parenthetical weasel words. He’s still (a little) convinced I could be nicer in the mornings. What he doesn’t realize is that without the sweet, sweet feeling of a caffeine rush, what he sees is the nicest I got. Period.

Still, since I decided to accept what he is, and not try to change it (figuring he’ll do the changing when he’s in charge of getting himself to class on time in college [Good Lord willing]), our mornings have been much easier.

Now if only I could find a snooze alarm for the rest of the world.

— Richard

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