"Marsha Jacobson does parents a great favor."
November 21st, 2008 ¦ Marsha Jacobson -
I knew some parents who intimidated me as a young mother. They seemed to get everything just right. Their children were always immaculate, clean and well-behaved. They slept when they were supposed to and ate what was good for them. These same parents found the time to teach their barely toddlers to recognize their abc’s and still find space in a day to work out!
I crawled through those early years, happy to make it to the end of each day without a major calamity or concern. I noticed however, with great interest, that these same parents seemed a bit thrown when their children reached eight or nine. Those fun years when kids realize for the first time that you, their wonderful parents, don’t know absolutely everything there is to know on this earth. They learn that their mouths move and they’re not afraid to use them. These parents now go into full gear and ground their kids at the drop of a hat and manage, through these and other punitive techniques, to keep their children, yet again, on the straight and narrow for another few years. Then, TEENAGERS! I’ve come to realize that these years define parents way more than they define children. Parents of teenagers who’ve never doubted their parenting skills could run into serious trouble here. Children of this age want to explore their own wants and desires. They want to experiment with limits and they definitely don’t want you telling them what to do. Parents of teenagers have to become expert diplomats. They have to learn to parent with backbone and understanding in the same sitting. Parents with control issues do not do well parenting this age group. They take rebellion and withdrawal as a personal attack and lose sight of the true role of parent. They are so hung up on getting their children to listen that they forget to look for emotional and social cues. I’m not saying that parenting teenagers is easy. It’s not. But it doesn’t have to spiral into an endless existence of negativity. This is the greatest period of adjustment for parents. It is almost, symbolically speaking, the real cutting of the cord. Parents unable to do this will start to do one of two things. They will start to blame their child (for somehow being innately bad) or they will start to blame others – wrong friends, wrong school, wrong area etc. Sadly, many “perfect” parents do not look to themselves.