So, you have a teenager now. For the last 13 years you’ve been raising this awesome kid, and now they’re entering the first stages of becoming an adult. Your baby is growing up and will be acting like a mature adult soon, right? Raising a teenager can’t be that hard, right??
Get ready for the transition of your life as a parent. It’s going to be a roller coaster ride, where everything is suddenly a huge issue and you are now the stupidest person on earth. “What?!”, you gasp! “Not my sweet little angel, he/she thinks I am the funniest and greatest person ever!”
Aww, that’s cute. I thought the same thing until my son turned 13. Then it happened.
The child who once hung onto my every word and laughed at everything I did, turned into a moody, eye-rolling teenager who now says, “You think you’re so funny, don’t you?”
Actually I do think I am funny, because I am.
But the reason for this behavior was the teen infection he had developed. At first, I was shocked and hurt and didn’t know how to deal with it when my son went teen. It is quite a horrifying and devastating infection to see take over someone you love.
Here’s an example of just how insidious this teenage infection can be. I am a pretty talented singer if I do say so myself. But all of a sudden, my son acted like he didn’t want to hear me sing! He would tell me to quit and suddenly hated MY singing. Singing is a huge part of my life and how I relieve stress, and suddenly I’m being made to feel like I suck at it by my own kid.
It really messed with me for a bit.
Such is every mother’s life when her child goes teen. We’ll call it the “teen-fection” from here on out. This teen-fection has corrupted your child with a bad attitude caused by raging hormones. Your sweet child is still in there somewhere, but the teen-fection is going to be blocking their true personality for awhile, and causing them to see the need to prove to you that they are now superior.
Haha! Superior. Raising a teenager is just … great.
I only have one child, so I haven’t known the blessing of this happening to me more than once. I would imagine it still sucks but hopefully isn’t as bad as the first time around.
Aww now, don’t start crying honey! We’re going to get you through this! What follows is going to be your guide to adjusting to the transition of raising a TEENAGER. * shudders *
The first thing you’re probably going to notice after your kid hits the big 1-3, is that they have somehow become the smartest person alive. No wait, let me clarify that. They now think they are the smartest person alive. Don’t panic! This is all part of the teen-fection that has afflicted your child.
Some of the major symptoms of this teen-fection will be eye rolling, criticizing everything you say and do, phrases like “Ugh Mom!”, “Don’t you know anything?!”, and “You never listen to me!”
“Well, it’s kind of hard to listen to you now honey, when all the bad attitude germs from your teen-fection spew from your mouth every time you speak…”
Let’s start with the eye rolling.
This symptom is going to catch you off-guard, because you’ve probably never seen your child’s eyes rotate like the second hand on a clock before. You’re going to feel alarmed, and wonder how to react. STAY COOL. You reacting angrily will just cause the rolling to get worse. Try something like: “What are you doing there with your eyes, is that a new eye exercise routine?” You can ward off a lot of teen-fection germs with the comical relief approach. BUT, this will probably get you some sighing and possible storming off. That’s OK for now, because if they stayed in the room you’d be getting more bad attitude, and what mom needs that, right?
Don’t panic when this happens. Raising a teenager is all about maintaining composure.
This behavior of sighing and storming off is normal, too. But what you did there with the comedy bit was show your teen that their attitude isn’t scaring you. They can sense fear now. Keep your cool, you got this! You pushed this child out of your body, you know pain.
OK, now on to the criticizing-everything-you-say-and-do symptom.
This one left me reeling for quite some time at first. Then after awhile I realized this wasn’t personal. My son was just sick with the teen-fection, and couldn’t get a grip on his tongue. It would have been easy for me to get a grip for him, but that’s not going to teach him anything. Apparently we all did this to our mothers, too. No one knows why this happens. It’s a mystery for sure, but it can be dealt with without losing your cool or sense of self-worth. Your kid might be taken down a few notches, but it’s necessary for his upbringing to be a decent human.
After a short period of time with this criticizing-everything-I-said-and-did behavior, I became what my son now calls “the master of throwing shade”. I’m quite proud of that title.
How did I do this? Whenever he tried to act like I was stupid for saying a general phrase to him, such as, “good morning”, instead of being hurt by the rudeness, I would just say something like, “act like that/talk to me like that again and I’ll take your phone away for the day.”
When you do this the first time, they’ll just look at you like you’re bluffing, but you’ll see the uncertainty behind their eyes. They are now contemplating not being able to check Instagram and Facebook or talk to the person they like. When you see that uncertainty, that’s when you know you’ve got them. This is something that you will use from here on out when they act like fools. Computers, gaming systems, and tablets work equally well as your tool to correct the behavior.
Sometimes there will be days where the teen-fection is out of control and nothing seems to calm them. Punish them still for being rude to you, and then put distance between you and your infected kid for a couple hours. Sometimes distance will be your best option to ward of the germs that day so it doesn’t infect (affect) you.
Now, what was next … Oh yes! The common teen-fection phrases you’ll encounter.
When you say something to them about something you are knowledgeable about and they act like you’re stupid and too old to know things? This will be when you start employing some of your own phrases. Things like, “So you’re saying I’m too stupid to know this? Well, let’s see, I raised you, so that must mean you’re calling yourself stupid too?” Use logic against them. They won’t be able to come up with a legit comeback to that, because it is truth you just hit them with.
They’ll try, though! Sputtering things like, “Well, I was born smart”. That’s when you come back with, “Really? Then how come you pooped in your pants for the first 2 years of your life?” See what I’m teaching you to do here? I am simply teaching you to put things back into perspective for them. You are their mother, you deserve respect.
If they’re going to disrespect you, you’re going to be painfully honest about their attempt.
It’s really all a matter of re-enforcing your place as their mother. They are growing up and that teen-fection is causing them to try and assert their authority as an adult WAY too early. It’s normal. You did it to your mother, too. You just don’t really remember doing it. Your mom remembers, though. She probably employed tactics similar to what I’m teaching you here.
It’s going to be hard at first, but soon after you get the hang of dealing with major attitude fluctuations from your kid’s teen-fection, you will get good at coming back with the right thing to put them back in their place. This is going to go on for 7 more years, though your teen may move out by 18. So, there’s that.
But most of us mothers want our kids as long as we can have them, and if we fight the teen-fection with our prescriptions of logic and perspective, things should calm down quite a bit. You’ll still see mild cases of attitude, eye-rolling, and sighing, but you’ll be in control instead of your child. That makes all the difference. Never let your child have control in the child/parent relationship. That’s just not right, and it will end badly for you both. You’ll feel like a worthless person who has no life of your own (not to mention no control) and they’ll be self-righteous, conceited jerks. No one needs anymore of those in the world.
So do your part as a responsible parent and fight the teen-fection and save your child from jerkdom. Raising a teenager right is for the good of all humanity.
Anonymous Mom is a column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this anonymous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.