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Old 08-08-2014, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I hoped to have a general discussion about what it's like to have a young teen in the house.

I've spent a lot of time with groups of teens this summer. What an interesting age!

What do I like about it? I love that these kids seem to have feet in both childhood and adolescence. They seem so interested in learning. They are developing friendships that I can see lasting a lifetime. Developing their own unique sense of humor. Becoming more aware and proud of themselves as individuals.

What don't I like? They seem so flakey! That's the biggest one. It's the old "in one ear out the other", it seems. I can also tell that hormones are at play for the girls at least. I feel badly about that because I know what it's like but it's a little hard to respond to because it's not cyclical yet or...something? It's like I can't tell what's a hormonal response and what's bad behavior. Thoughts on this?

What about changing hygiene needs? Have most parents reading along waited for their own children's questions about hygiene? Or make suggestions based on your observations?

Has anyone noticed that your children are developing a more complex view of you as a person?

Please share.

OT/random thoughts most welcome!

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Old 08-09-2014, 11:30 AM
 
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My thoughts, having survived that stage with two kids (one with special needs) is that it is best to just skip that whole stage and bounce them straight up to being 15, at which point both my kids were really pleasant, normal human beings.

There could be some problems implementing this strategy, but it would be simplier and more pleasant all around.

Short of that, I suggest a nice Merlot.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 08-09-2014, 11:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My thoughts, having survived that stage with two kids (one with special needs) is that it is best to just skip that whole stage and bounce them straight up to being 15, at which point both my kids were really pleasant, normal human beings.

There could be some problems implementing this strategy, but it would be simplier and more pleasant all around.

Short of that, I suggest a nice Merlot.
Linda! I love this respons! I feel that way about 3.5-4.5. I may well feel like that for 13-15 as things roll on.

One other good thing I can think of about this age (at least for my DC) is that she is coming out of a pretty strong food aversion/pickyness stage. I can tell that some of the social pressures to be polite, eat what is served, be a good guest are at play. It's so interesting the ways that social pressure can help motivate kids at this age. And scary to think of too!

Another thing that I observed is what a strong developmental stage this is. Not since 3.5-5 have I noticed such strong similarities in quirks among peer groups. Between 5-12 it seemed that DC and her peers were excelling and struggling with a big variety of things. Now at 12 it feels like they are all doing very similar stuff - going through similar stuff.

It's pretty hot here so I think I'll see how a nice rose or crisp white wine treats this problem.

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Old 08-09-2014, 12:25 PM
 
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My thoughts, having survived that stage with two kids (one with special needs) is that it is best to just skip that whole stage and bounce them straight up to being 15, at which point both my kids were really pleasant, normal human beings.

There could be some problems implementing this strategy, but it would be simplier and more pleasant all around.

Short of that, I suggest a nice Merlot.
Linda, I know we do not always agree, but with this I think you are spot on!!

I have an 18, 15 and 11 yr old.

I found 11-14 to be really difficult - both for me and for them.

ICM, I love teens. Truly, I do. I hate the anti-teen attitude that can be pervasive in our society (I think it is a bit better now, than 10 years ago.) Teens can be great to have adventures with - they have stamina, energy and more adult tastes than you average 3 yr old (you mean I do not have to sit through another young kid movie or circle time?!? Woohoo!) You can also have great conversation with them - this only improves as they age.

11-14 yr old can be very difficult to live with, though. They are typically hard on themselves and almost everyone around them. This applies to parents in particular, as you (the parent) are often very much a safe place to vent/rage. While not to downplay hormones, I think other things are at the root of difficult behaviour. I think the peer group can be very important at this age, and also very merciless, and sorting out how to deal with this can be very stressing. I also think many teens have a keen sense of justice - and unlike younger kids who mostly just want to please their parents, older kids are often more invested in righting injustices. This can be good sometimes and I do think it is a skill we all need to develop, but their sense of perspective is not tempered with much life experience, and so expectations can be out of proportion to reality.

In any event, I hope I have not scared you.

I don't find teens particularly flakey. Some are, some aren't. Same as everyone else.

I also do not think it matters much if the behaviour comes from hormones or not. It is not a pass for negative behaviour, yk? There are factors that make bad behaviour more likely - hunger, stress, sleep, hormones. I do think trying to properly manage the factors we can control are important. My 11 year old was unneccessarily grouchy last night. She had declined supper, so she was hungry but did not realise it. Insisting she eat something put her in a far better mood.

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Old 08-09-2014, 12:44 PM
 
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Subbing so I will remember to join in when I am over this flu. Great discussion idea!

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Old 08-09-2014, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ICM, I love teens. Truly, I do. I hate the anti-teen attitude that can be pervasive in our society (I think it is a bit better now, than 10 years ago.)
I agree, Kathy. That's why I first shared the things I love about this age. I truly feel like some of this is a perspective thing in that teens can manage REALLY high expectations and when they wobble a little it can seem more frustrating than a toddler. But I have a toddler so I KNOW that teens are easier in SOOOOO many ways!

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I don't find teens particularly flakey. Some are, some aren't. Same as everyone else.
I would not have generalized if I hadn't just spent so much time with teens this summer. My own tends to be pretty "on it" when it comes to taking care of stuff but even she has been really forgetful lately. What set my mind in this direction was in telling a teen to pack up because I was taking her directly from our day event to where she would spend the night. I felt as though I explained my reasoning pretty darned well (mentioned that were we were going was on the way to where we would take her later in the day). We were in the country for the week so back tracking meant an hour more in the car. She didn't bring her bag...after all that! And she told me that she didn't understand what I was saying. I do not know how I could have been more clear.

That was just sort of the last thing in a long series of things that made me think that young teens have a tendency to be flakey. I can't tell you how many backpacks, water bottles, uniforms, PE clothes, hair brushes, phone chargers, balled up sandy wet suits, and etc. that we have left in our house/car.

My own DC doesn't tend to leave as much of a trail (that I am aware of) but she has a tendency lately to do like half of what I ask her to do. I know she isn't doing it on purpose but the result is that I may as well have done it myself.

We had a discussion last week about me wanting her to be better at predicting what needs to be done. I think me giving a list of things isn't working and part of that is that I know she is smart and aware enough of our routine that it shouldn't matter if she heard me or not. Ha!

AND, that may be part of why she doesn't listen in the first place. I think she thinks she knows what I am asking so she tunes out after she thinks she understands. I want her to not limit her helpfulness/responsibility to what she thinks I'm asking. This is something she is generally good with - I'm ready for her to get back on the ball. ;-)

Another part of this is that it's August. This is sort of part of our cycle. Come August my DC and I can tend to feel a bit at odds. We spend lots of time together in the summer and have more free time and do more physical and emotionally draining things. Big road trips, tent living, being guests, long hot days in the sun. These things don't bring the best out in anyone when energy is low. But the are wonderful times, for sure!

Another great thing about 12 was that I think DC really, truly realized that we are on the same page -- that I want for her what she wants for herself. This is amazing and wonderful. We may have lost sight of that a little in the hustle and bustle of the summer. But, again, not something I would trade.

I am looking forward to the routine of school though.

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Old 08-09-2014, 01:12 PM
 
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Musings on flakey….

I have one child who is quite flakey in general (but can be very not flakey when it is something he wants), one has never had a flakey moment in her life, and one who is average. They have been this way forever.

I did expect flakiness to go away as they got older, and that hasn't really hapenned.

I am not sure if it is:
-temperment (for lack of a better word)
-unreasonable expectations
-a parenting issue: did I micro manage too much? Did I expect them to demonstrate a skill without expressly teaching it?

In any event, I will be subbing to see if anyone else discusses flakiness and pre-teens/teens. At this point I think it is about 75% temperment and 25% a bit of a parenting fail/parenting work in progress on my part.

There is a battle of two wolves inside us.  One is good and the other is evil.  The wolf that wins is the one you feed.

 

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Old 08-09-2014, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I definitely think that a tendency to be flaky or not is a temperament/upbringing issue. My DC's saving grace in an academic/building school setting is that she can manage her stuff really well. She has friends who are not as strong in this way. So far it seems like all of them have taken a dip, no matter where they fall on the spectrum. It could be that my DC's peers have all been given a big leap in responsibility since entering middle school. Or, it could be that it's grating on my nerves and I'm paying closer attention. It wouldn't be the first time that I've suffered from that sort of assumption. :-)

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Old 08-09-2014, 01:48 PM
 
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Great discussion!! I too am saddened by the anti-teen sentiment that is so pervasive and also struggle with frustrations with my own preteen DD. I wanted to add that as a parent, you DO need to address the hygiene needs if your child has not already done so. I teach 10-16 year olds and there are always a handful of kids that have clearly not begun taking extra time to wash and use deoderant. I have to imagine it is much more awkward to hear this from your teacher, no matter how kindly put, than from your mom or dad!! And other kids notice, often before I do I would guess they are not always as kind.

As for flaky, my DD is definitely more forgetful lately. It isn't really flaky... She forgets to finish multi-step tasks and/or needs A LOT of reminders/encouragement to move along. She is also really hard on herself, much more so in the last year (she's 11). I see the hormonal moodiness but I agree with a previous poster, it is NOT an excuse for poor/rude behavior. I know this is all just starting to brew here and that I have a goo 3-5 years before this particular storm passes. I am a little nervous!

And yes, DD certainly seems to realize I am more than just her mama recently, that I have my own likes and needs and might, gasp, sometimes truly be wrong! While she is and has always been a firecracker, she is my spirited girl, and she has always questioned nearly everything, it is new that she seems to see me this way.

Can't wait to read more thoughts/ideas/suggestions!!

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Old 08-09-2014, 01:54 PM
 
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it is best to just skip that whole stage and bounce them straight up to being 15, at which point both my kids were really pleasant, normal human beings.
You know, I completely agree and I happen to think that there is a sense in which this is serious, practical advice.

When I was growing up my parents always insisted I have a spotless track record of lesser responsibility before granting me a little more independence and responsibility. It meant that when I decided not to sweat what to me was small stuff (didn't turn in homework in a class I was already acing, or short-changed my violin practicing, for example) they were completely unwilling to trust me with things like staying home alone. From my adolescent perspective it felt as if they were trying to control me and all my decision-making, since every time I made a choice they disapproved of, any independence I'd been granted would be clawed back. I swore I wouldn't do that to my own kids.

I don't think that being the perfect child is necessary preparation for more grown-up responsibility. When my kids have shown signs of wanting more responsibility, I've heaped it upon them until they've said "enough," even if they're being a bit flakey. I think that teens learn responsibility from having it, and from making mistakes with it (in a reasonably supportive environment, of course). And that has meant that my kids sort of skipped adolescence, or at least a lot of it. We didn't have this years-long tussle where they were fighting for more freedom and responsibility and I was resisting, meting out trust and independence a teaspoon at a time. You want to hang out in town after the movie for however long you feel like? You want to take the overnight bus to the city by yourself? You want to stay here while the rest of us go skiing for three days? Fine. Let's talk about reasonable safeguards. We'll figure it out.

My youngest two are currently sitting on either side of a very-much-minimized adolescent phase. My 15-year-old will be living in an apartment 90 minutes from home next year, attending school, shopping and cooking on her own. My 11-year-old still likes me to tuck her into bed at night after reading her a story. Somewhere in around age 13-14 my kids have been ready for a really quick transit through adolescence and on to a much more adult way of living and being. They still need their parents' support after that transit, of course, but much of that need is more in the way an woman might need the support of her spouse -- it's support from the side, not from above. We're no longer involved in much in the way of supervision, setting limits, life-management, etc..

Of course the success of the "adolescence? no thanks!" approach is probably predicated on personality/temperament and on a foundation of autonomy and trust having been laid throughout childhood. But I do highly recommend skipping as much of the push-pull drama of adolescence as you can, and just treating your young teen as much like an adult as you can bear to.

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Old 08-09-2014, 02:04 PM
 
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I know this is all just starting to brew here and that I have a goo 3-5 years before this particular storm passes.

I don't know anyone for whom the storm lasted 5 years. I think 1 1/2 to 2 years is the average for the worst of it. I think the reason there is such a range of ages is because some kids start sooner than others, not because the stage itself last forever.

I think teens are really wonderful. Mine amaze me, and their friends are a pretty awesome set of kids.

But I don't have anything good to say about the transition. It sucked. It also came as a huge surprise to me because I thought that since we had practiced AP, GD, co-sleeping, homeschooling in a mellow way blah blah blah that it was like buying insurance that we would always get along and it would be sunshine and roses. It came as a shock to me, and for a while I felt like all my hard work to be a good mom had been a complete and total waste of time.

As far as flakiness, I feel like there is a sudden leap in how much stuff kids are suposed to keep track of in a multitudes of context with a sharp decrease in scaffolding.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 08-09-2014, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to add that as a parent, you DO need to address the hygiene needs if your child has not already done so.
I struggle with this a little from an aesthetic, appearance based culture. I do think that I would/am comfortable talking to my DC about BO, healthy teeth, healthy body when it comes to hygiene. But I am at a more grey and hesitant place when it comes to largely aesthetic stuff like newly active oils in the hair and shaving. I don't want to the the person who tells my DC that she needs to keep her hair clean or shave her legs because neither of these things feel important to me and I want my DC to decide on her own. For sure with shaving - I would never expect that she wants to shave. Maybe a little less-so with her hair only because she may not notice that her hair/oil production has changed. Sigh. I for sure always want to be on her side!

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I see the hormonal moodiness but I agree with a previous poster, it is NOT an excuse for poor/rude behavior.
I'm not sure if I feel the same way about hormonal stuff. I do very much expect my family to give me some space when I have PMS or are otherwise feeling out of sorts. I think they can tell when I have my reasons and when I'm just totally off base. I want to be that way for my DC. On occasion she has been able to recognize an unusual emotional reaction to something - so that's a good sign. Other times I suspect that hormonal changes are making it very hard for her to keep perspective. I don't mind giving her a little extra space during those times. Maybe I'll create a monster. ;-)

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I think that teens learn responsibility from having it, and from making mistakes with it (in a reasonably supportive environment, of course). And that has meant that my kids sort of skipped adolescence, or at least a lot of it. We didn't have this years-long tussle where they were fighting for more freedom and responsibility and I was resisting, meting out trust and independence a teaspoon at a time.
I think I see what you're saying here, Miranda. We haven't had the push and pull that you're describing either and I don't expect to. But my DC seems to be wobbling a bit and that's part of the process that I consider adolescence - the making mistakes, the learning from responsibility, learning who you are...all that good stuff.

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I don't know anyone for whom the storm lasted 5 years. I think 1 1/2 to 2 years is the average for the worst of it. I think the reason there is such a range of ages is because some kids start sooner than others, not because the stage itself last forever.
Yes, I think so too. I had a bit of an error in judgement because some of what my DC is going through is stuff that her friends have been dealing with for a couple of years now. I thought maybe DC wouldn't go through it. I had a mom's group for adolescents that started almost a year ago to talk about things that I am just needing support for with my DC (and she is a full chronological year older than most of these kids).

With these parents there were several "What the heck was my child thinking" events that make me a little nervous for things to come. Oy.


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As far as flakiness, I feel like there is a sudden leap in how much stuff kids are suposed to keep track of in a multitudes of context with a sharp decrease in scaffolding.
Yes, that could very well be, Linda. Take sunscreen. I do not feel it is appropriate for me to apply sunscreen to 12 year old kids. It would feel very strange to me. I also think that these kids should be able to apply their own sunscreen. I was the caregiver last week for a child who was terrible at applying sunscreen. This was a little bit of a news flash for me in that I am not sure how well I have prepared my own child to manage this stuff when she is a guest.

But that's sort of the rub and complicated part of this age. I think I can try to fill in the gaps for my child and help support her in these new responsibilities...but there is a lot that I feel like she thinks she already knows - so it's difficult to teach at this age.

So back to what Miranda said, this is the stage of learning from mistakes. I can TOTALLY get down with that. In fact it is a freeing idea. Except, of course, where skin cancer is concerned and also where a child's mistakes can so often create a lot more work for ME.

My father told me that parenting doesn't get easier until your kids are 35. Ha, ha, ha.

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Old 08-09-2014, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to talk a little more about the conflict between kids making their own mistakes and the reality of needing to protect them from their mistakes.

Where does everyone fall here? Obviously we are not going to let a teen stay in the sun for 12 hours with poorly applied sunscreen or play sports for hours without water because they forgot theirs. Where do we draw the line? If we are actively doing things to protect them from their mistakes, how do we help them understand our role a bit better?

I had a big thread here a while ago about money. I know the conventional wisdom is to let teens experiment with autonomy with money. For me, this felt a lot like pretend autonomy and I struggle to see the value in that.

I thought of another example from last week. My DC and her friend were allowed to walk around a new town for two hours. I walked with them to the street corner where we would meet and then we went our separate ways. They could not find their way back to the correct street (even though the streets were numbered). So, they obviously needed more support. But they did not want it when I offered them some tips to remember how to find our meeting place. It was really not sweat for me because I had decided to go get the car and I just drove to where they were. BUT, if I hadn't gotten the car I would have been stuck waiting or walking to find them in the hot summer sun with a tired toddler. And I would have been super annoyed. ;-)

I think in situations like these I need to be more assertive in what I think they need. I know it will feel annoying and tiresome though, which is not a personality trait that I am all that interested in exploring with teenagers. The alternative is to consider whatever inconvenience caused to me when these things happen and work from the perspective of limiting that. Maybe that's the right way to go. Maybe I have just been more protective of natural consequences than what feels good to me. Another freeing idea. :-)

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Old 08-09-2014, 07:04 PM
 
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I have a 13 year old, too, and also an 11 year old. DD1 has always been more on the flaky side. Dd2 is more organized and responsible. Dd1 has good intentions, but poor follow through. I have seen her be a little more flaky lately and I have seen myself be more on edge about it. Might be hormones for me or just too much togetherness and too little alone time. Dd2 has been more emotional lately, and I know her hormones are probably gearing up, too.

With sunscreen, I will apply to a 12 yr old, or we can have a doling out of the sunscreen session (squirt a little in everyone's hands). Sometimes they do each other's backs and their friends' backs, too. I often get them to help me with my back, too, so it doesn't feel like me helping them with their backs is belittling or coddling.

I wouldn't feel comfortable having my kids (either the 13 yr old or the 11 yr old) walking around a new town for 2 hrs by themselves, but that's more about them (and some about me). Dd1 wouldn't go for that at all. She has some anxiety issues and is not very adventuresome that way. Dd2 is more of a risk taker, but I don't think she would feel comfortable with that either. But I know all kids are different and some would be fine with that. Dd1 often doesn't want to stay home by herself, either, although she has been doing some of that in short bursts. Dd2 enjoys it.

As far as allowing kids to make their own mistakes I think it simply depends on how big the mistake is going to be. Are they liable to badly injured or is it going to be a very expensive mistake? Then intervene and go ahead and apply that sunscreen, or supervise their application of it, and make them drink water. If the mistake is going to be inconvenient for them, but not harmful or expensive or too inconvenient for me (avoiding me being too grumpy is a win-win for all parties) then I say let them make mistakes. They forget to pack their bathing suit and have to sit on the side of the pool? Well, lesson learned. I do explain, explain, explain. My kids are usually pretty good at paying attention to the explanations. But more often lately it seems like they feel like they already know what I'm saying so they do that tuning out halfway through thing, or often don't ask a question to clarify their understanding and just proceed with their best guess of what I was talking about and get it wrong.

I agree that hormones are not an excuse for rude behavior. They may be a reason for it, and it can certainly be appropriate to ask for and give more space as needed, but "raging hormones" are not a get out of jail free card. The kids and I both have to own up for our rude behavior and take ourselves out. I had to do that this afternoon, myself, and escape to the library for 30 minutes.

And definitely I have to keep on them about hygiene and appropriate clothing (I keep having to remind dd1 about a bra or cami) and I agree that they might not like it from me, but they'd rather it from me than from somebody at school. Same thing as your spouse telling you your fly is open, or you have spinach on your teeth. I would very much rather hear it from him than go out in public like that.

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Old 08-10-2014, 07:36 AM - Thread Starter
 
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With sunscreen, I will apply to a 12 yr old, or we can have a doling out of the sunscreen session (squirt a little in everyone's hands). Sometimes they do each other's backs and their friends' backs, too.
Yes, that's about what we did (helped each other with backs and me encouraging kids to use a lot of sunscreen and really get it on there). One of the kids under my care forgot large portions of her legs though. We had spray with us for reapplication so she didn't fry too badly, although I felt the need to adjust the plans the next day so she had a break from the sun.

And, I was a little frustrated because I had offered quite a bit of support for this age range. I feel as though the next level up in terms of support would have felt patronizing.

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But more often lately it seems like they feel like they already know what I'm saying so they do that tuning out halfway through thing, or often don't ask a question to clarify their understanding and just proceed with their best guess of what I was talking about and get it wrong.
Yes! This is how I feel as well. When my DC was maybe 8 or so I noticed I doing a lot of nagging and she wasn't listening as a result (because she knew I would repeat myself a hundred times). I don't think I do that anymore and we are all happier for it. Though if things keep up we will have to revisit communication. In the past I have asked my DC to repeat what I said. That "works" but it doesn't feel good to either of us. I'm hopeful that the "if your are going to interpret what I want rather than listen to me, you need to be better at interpretation" route will work.

The more I think about this the better I feel about this alternative. It contains a nice logical consequence in that DC doesn't have to "just do what I asked" she needs to complete the whole task. If unloading the car, for instance, she will no longer have a list of things that she is responsible for bringing in, she will be responsible for the car being unpacked. I am open to her asking for my help and us getting back to a team effort, which we had down pretty well a couple of months ago.

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I agree that hormones are not an excuse for rude behavior.
I think "bad behavior" was a bad term to use for what I mean. And, the moodiness is still pretty few and far between. Still, the next time something like comes up I will see if there are any behavior issues that I am comfortable addressing. Generally though it has been things like being weepy or lacking enthusiasm. Because we live together that can sometimes affect others and my hope is that DC will take ownership of that (she already has started) but they are not things that I feel I can ask her to change. It's a matter of finding tools for dealing with them. I know many adults who struggle with this still so I'm OK that it is an evolving process for my DC.

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As far as allowing kids to make their own mistakes I think it simply depends on how big the mistake is going to be.
Yes, agreed. One of the things that I feel are lesser talked about are the mistakes that are not harmful but that are just inconvenient to the parent. Sometimes when a new parenting stage comes along and it is more work than I expected I tend to freak out a little.

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Old 08-10-2014, 08:48 AM
 
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My kids are usually pretty good at paying attention to the explanations. But more often lately it seems like they feel like they already know what I'm saying so they do that tuning out halfway through thing, or often don't ask a question to clarify their understanding and just proceed with their best guess of what I was talking about and get it wrong.

What I've found helpful is rather than telling them stuff, I tell them that I'm feeling the need to have a "parental conversation," but that I'm pretty sure that already know what I'm going to say, so why don't they just tell me instead. That way they are active in the conversation, they have to pull up what they know from long term memory, and rather than giving them a whole speech that that already know 90% of, I can just say the 10% they forgot.

Asking questions works better than telling. For example, "tomorrow and you X are going to the water park. What are the things you think you should take with you?"

As far as meeting on a street corner in the sun with a toddler and kids who don't know there way around, I think that was a whole bad set up. My kids wouldn't have been ready for that at that age, and I wouldn't arrange to meet anyone on a corner in the sun. The closest situation I have was when my kids were 13 &14 and they were allowed to do some things on their own in another city while we were on vacation, but they already knew how to get back to where we were staying, how to use the key, had a cell phone with them, etc. We built all other other skills first, step by step. We also saved the locations in the cell phone and showed them how to use the map feature, in case they got turned around. The next summer, they used public transportation to go someplace just the two of them while we were on vacation. Just step by step build things up.

I think that rather than focusing on how much support they need and how to offer it, the better thing to focus on is how we get them to not need the support. At this point, we just have a few short years to help them become independent and develop life skills. I really feel like anything they still need help with is something they should be in training to do on their own.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 08-10-2014, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, we do a lot of that too, Linda. While I do think the exploring the town thing was well within these kids' ability and maturity level, I should have asked them to tell me how they were going to find their way back to our meeting space when they indicated to me that they didn't need my help. This was a beach town so meeting out of the sun was not an option and safety and getting lost were not a factor to consider too much. Mainly I think they genuinely didn't really understand how numbered streets work - something that I took for granted. I think maybe a more challenging situation would have been better in some ways because when DC is feeling pushed beyond her comfort zone she does tend to pay attention and ask for help.

I hear you on the whole "few short years" thing. I'm not especially good with technology so "dropping a pin" is just not going to be a solution for me BUT I have started having DC navigate from my phone while I drive. I'd like her to be a good navigator as she heads out into this world. Added bonus is that she sees me not using a hand-held while driving.

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Old 08-23-2014, 01:22 AM
 
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It's nice to see a familiar face here, IdentityCrisisMama! Our dd's are both 13. Wow! And you are so right about them being both in the adult world and still children. I realized the other day that my dd needs me to set boundaries and she knows it-- she still needs me to protect her, even as she sometimes resents it.

Rather than retyping it all out, I am copying from my blog that I just posted last night on this very issue.

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A few weeks ago I wrote a long blog entry about allowing children to grow up, make mistakes, become independent, and eventually turn into adults. My lofty ideas were put to the test recently when Abi asked permission to do something.

Abi had a half day coming up at school. She asked if she could join some friends of hers and walk to a Starbucks after school let out and just hang out for awhile. My first reaction was to say yes. It goes with the idea of doing things without adult supervision and gaining life experience. I have let Abi roam the mall with friends, after all.

The more I asked questions though, the more my inner voice said to not let her do this for several reasons. I can list them all but the main ones were I didn't know these other children, and it involved a busy intersection and strip mall quite a distance from the school. I consulted with my December Mommy 2000 friends. I was reassured that most of them would not have let their kids do it, either. And they suggested ways to make it work next time, in small steps, with the proper skills and safety checks in place.

She initially was upset that I was not letting her go. She accused me of being a control freak. She had also read my blog entry "How to Become an Adult" and said I had done things far more risky and I had survived. Points taken. But still the answer was no.

I was raised in an environment where children were not to ever question their parents, and that parents were next after God as far as knowing everything there was to know. Somehow they all had it figured out, or at least they pretended to.

I have always tried to let my kids know my thought processes in my decisions as a parent. I also admit when I am wrong. I explain that I'm new at this parenting thing, too. But after all the discussions are had, our home is not a Democracy (as Abi tried to argue one time!) and it's not a "Free Country," either (as she argued another time).

I explained that it was a hard job for me as a parent to know when to keep a close eye on her and protect her, and when to let her grow up and have independence, because I knew she needed to learn to be independent. I hugged her on the couch and told her she was my precious child, and it was scary for me to let her take chances even when I knew that they were often good for her to experience.

She then admitted that sometimes she still needed me to make those decisions for her. Wow. Big breakthrough.

It's a difficult dance, this mothering of a teen. I know there is a lot more of this dancing to do, and there are many times we will step on each other's toes. But there is also trust. Abi knows I have her best interests in mind, that I am on her team and looking out for her. She knows I am reasonable most of the time, and willing to work out a compromise. But I also see that in the next few years I will need to let go more and more so she can find her own way. I am scared to death.

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Old 08-23-2014, 01:29 AM
 
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When you use word flakey I'm not sure what you mean. I am struggling with Abi realizing that she need to contribute to the household work. She has the dishes and general clean-up after herself. A couple weeks ago I nearly had a breakdown. I was dealing with a lot of stuff including my grandma in the hospital (I am one of two primary caregivers for my grandparents when they are in town), I was having a rough time at work with some things going on there (I'm a Peds ICU nurse), and on top of that I am going back to school again. This was in addition to driving the kids to/from activities and school and trying to be involved in their lives. So I really needed everyone to pull their weight, especially in this crisis time. I was coming home to a huge sinkful of dishes and a huge excuse to go with it, and yet she spent hours on her phone and computer. I don't like to take those things away out of spite but I did. And then I sat down and had a huge cry on the couch after calling a family meeting and told them all the burdens I had to carry. And how everyone needed to pull their weight because I didn't know how long I could do this anymore. I think Abi saw that I have feelings and needs, too. She knew that but I think it was a big wake up call to see her mom crying hysterically on the couch. After that she's been MUCH better about the dishes and asking what she can do to help around the house.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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Old 08-23-2014, 07:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Nice to see you too, USAmma. For us the flakey is more DC saying or thinking she will do something and then just totally forgetting or starting and not finishing or mis-interpreting what needed to be done. I know here mind is other places so I don't mind giving a pass from time to time but I also resent the reminders because it makes me feel like a nag. DC's school starts Monday, mine Wednesday and the toddler's the following week. We have ONE day of summer left and we're going to the state fair. One last hurrah! I'm so looking forward to routine!

Another thing I've noticed is there's this reluctance to learn from me. I don't really care if it's something my DC isn't interested in and/or something I don't need her to know but there are times when I know she wants or needs to know something that I can teach her and she is reluctant to learn from me.

For example, she was doing collage this weekend. I had bought her second-hand boring-old white binders and got some old magazines for her to decorate them with according to the subject theme. She liked the idea a lot. She said she learned collage from her art teacher but I watched her process and she really didn't grasp some basic ideas (both in concept and technical skill). I gave her some pointers, which she seemed to resist. Then I had the idea to show her some formal collage art. That worked better, I think, because she wasn't learning from me. After that, I left her all alone because I could tell she didn't want anymore help. But, guess what? Her collage was WAY better (better meaning more what she wanted) after she had taken my help. Grumble!

I'm sorry you're having a rough time at home, extended family, and work. I'm relieved to hear that breaking down helped your DC. I can imaging that having a huge impact on my DC should the need present itself.

Don't anybody get me wrong - this age is fine and good in a great many ways. It's mainly just interesting in the ways that it's easier and more frustrating.

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Old 08-23-2014, 09:32 PM
 
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aaaaaah what a lovely thread. so much to say. yet i dont want to hog the board.

here's something that i find curious though.

how much does starting puberty have anything with this.

i am finding it difficult to find what is age appropriate and what is 'because puberty has started'.

its teh reason why i have been once in a while on other threads asking for the definition of teens.

dd is going to be twelve in a matter of weeks. she started her periods at 10.6 a wee before i started myself. i noticed the extreme changes since a year before.

the year before puberty - the prepuberty period was rough, really, really rough for dd. her body went thru a myriad of changes. she was a bad child. she went from calm to in a matter of seconds. while she was in the throes of a 'tantrum' - dont know how else to describe it - she was awful if not given her space. she would clearly tell her friends and me - right then she needs space and if we follow she cant be held responsible for her behaviour. people in their need to help would not leave her alone and have to deal with a snarky child.

that's been her problem though her whole life. she wants to go lick her wounds in a small space alone, but no one would leave her alone.

i've seen the flakiness. i've seen the forgetfullness. i've also seen intense PMS and changes when cycle comes along and even tho' dd clearly knows the cylce is doing a number on her emotions she is struggling really hard to survive.

i know while she is involved in a lot of new things - her anxiety is back as she has continuous stomach aches which went away when she was passed K age.

and yet... i see the adult in her. i see her take charge. i see her reach out and help me and just take care of me. when we were changing buses on our vacation, she just grabbed my big bag, mounted it on her giant bag and pulled both of them together. 'no ma i can do it. you just take care of those things and if you could please could you grab this jacket from me.' oh this is so sweet.

the voice she has lost she has found again.

i feel like i havent hit the hard stuff yet, yet she is doing all the stuff you guys write. perhaps its because she is having such a hard time these days (everything is find and then suddenly bursts open a crisis, then calm, then crisis) that i cant be hard on her. i dont need to coz she always realises and comes and apologizes later. i only stop the big ones, because i know later on she'd feel terrible she behaved that way and would be ten times harder than i could ever be on her.

while i notice she has more indepth realizations, i notice something i dont like. a black and white response with no grey areas. that concerns me. she has never been a black adn white person and now she is hard on others for various reasons.

i better stop now or i could go on and on.

the reason why i bring up puberty is coz dd started earlier than most of her friends. and as she was hitting the ceilings on her emotions they werent doing the same.

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Old 08-24-2014, 05:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I know that puberty is a big part of it for my DC. Obviously it's an emotional time both from the physical/hormonal perspective but also because some kids are so conflicted about growing up. DC is excited about it at the same time that she's worried and not ready to let go of the things she has deemed "childish". I'm so grateful for our younger neighbors and DC's good friend who is 8 because DC has plenty of time to just play and play.

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Old 08-24-2014, 10:53 AM
 
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My older three kids went through puberty at average times, the girls starting their periods at 12.5, ds being a year to a year and a half later with most of his physical changes. They're introverted stoics by nature, so I honestly didn't see much in the way of outer manifestations of hormonal changes. They turned inwards more for a period of time.

My 11-year-old is on the brink between childhood and adolescence, but she's been there for a while socially and emotionally even if the physiological changes have been more recent. She sees the humour in the contradictions. She's an odd mix of maturity and innocence, and she's comfortable with that asynchrony. I think it helps her to see that her older siblings and older friends have maintained a lot of their childishness despite their obvious maturity, and also that most of her group experiences have been more interest- and ability-aggregated than age-stratified. And no doubt it helps that we live in an area that celebrates alternative views and square pegs -- and our family is very much of this persuasion as well. So she views not fitting people's preconceptions as a badge of honour rather than a shortcoming. That is serving her well as she navigates these waters.

I think my eldest dd would have breezed through adolescence more easily if she'd had more older kids in her social circles who were good models of "growing up without losing your childish self." Viewed from a distance, older teens can look very intimidating to a younger child on the brink: their more obvious outer traits are often of the über cool swagger-and-strut variety. When you get to know most older teens well, they reveal their more vulnerable, playful and idealistic sides. I think genuine friendships with nice older teens with shared interests are really healthy for younger teens.

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Old 08-24-2014, 12:44 PM
 
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ICM, I love teens. Truly, I do. I hate the anti-teen attitude that can be pervasive in our society (I think it is a bit better now, than 10 years ago.) Teens can be great to have adventures with - they have stamina, energy and more adult tastes than you average 3 yr old (you mean I do not have to sit through another young kid movie or circle time?!? Woohoo!) You can also have great conversation with them - this only improves as they age.
.

I love them too! I just don't like mine (DD14) all the time . On a whole (when they are in good moods), I love the fact that you can have real conversations with them, and that they can express an opinion about real things. I love when they discover 'new' things, like songs, movies or tv shows from the past. Or things from history, whether good or bad. I love watching her learn!

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I don't find teens particularly flakey. Some are, some aren't. Same as everyone else.

I also do not think it matters much if the behaviour comes from hormones or not. It is not a pass for negative behaviour, yk? There are factors that make bad behaviour more likely - hunger, stress, sleep, hormones. I do think trying to properly manage the factors we can control are important. My 11 year old was unneccessarily grouchy last night. She had declined supper, so she was hungry but did not realise it. Insisting she eat something put her in a far better mood.
Mine is like this regarding sleep. As old and smart as they may be, they do not see the correlation with sleep (or food intake) as a trigger of irritability. ,one was never a good sleeper, and she still fights going to sleep. I don't push it anymore, she's on her own with bedtime, with constant reminders about the benefits of getting a good night sleep. High school starts in 9 days, with an hour commute! Life is going to change, big time!!

I agree that hormones should not be an excuse, but I try to emphasize to her that they are a real thing, not just something ppl say to excuse cranky behavior. Conversely, I hate when ppl (especially men) throw the PMS term around. She is struggling with depression and anxiety right now, and both the therapist and psychiatrist have asked me to keep track of her behaviors/symptoms and if it relates to her cycle.
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Old 08-24-2014, 03:09 PM
 
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Regarding flakiness, and them not knowing what to bring, remembering things, and all that: I've seen it with mine, of course. Sometimes I assume it's just laziness (mommy will pick up the slack- bring the sunblock, towels and snacks to the beach). Then I see these kids in action at sleep away camp (I'm a camp nurse) and for the most part, they manage (with the guidance of counselors) to survive the week or two (or six) without the constant reminders from nagging mom. They may not have brushed their teeth entice a day, but they all make it home alive and (somewhat) clean. At home, I see it with my dd's friends, when their mothers are not around. We took dd's friend with us to an amusement park, and she walks out of our car empty handed. I asked her if she wanted to bring anything (like her own spending $$): "oh yeah, giggle". Since I didn't mention flip flops and a towel (for the water park) and had dd's packed in my bag, she completely forgot. Fortunately we had premium parking, so the walk back wasn't very far.

Someone mentioned the transition process- IMO, it is huge, and we (most of us) do very little to ease the transition. My dd went to a tiny K-8 elementary school, but left early and went to a traditional middle school for 7-8th grade. I am hoping this helps her transition to HS, and wonder what the kids from her old school will face when jumping into the large ocean from the small, close-knit pond. IMO, there was so much coddling in her old school, but I can't speak to what happened in the last two years when we had moved on. I do remember, that white each grade promotion, any tiny bit of cutting of the cord was not well-received by some parents (like, "you will copy your own hw assignment off the board, and it will not be there all day", and other attempts at growing up).

Her HS already had one orientation in June, and emphasized the importance of organization and good study habits. They will have another one next week, just for the kids, right before school starts, and another one for the parents the first night of school. I don't remember so much hand holding going into HS. I don't remember my parents going to an orientation once, let alone twice when I started. Don't get me wrong, I am more than thrilled that they are doing the right thing to acclimate the kids, but is just don't remember the need 26 years ago.

As amn aside- if you (or your kids) happen to be a theatre person, the title of this thread immediately made me think of the short lived musical with the same name. It lives on in many high schools and community theaters around the country (my dd was in it locally right before she turned 13). It is about a by moving to a new state right before his bar mitzvah, and the never ending struggles that come with that age. The opening song (entitled 13) gives the kids perspective. All the feelings, emotions and confusion Google it and take a listen; it's cute!
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Old 08-24-2014, 05:02 PM
 
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I think that the need to ease the transition to high school (which I agree seems new since I was a kid, and seems like a real need for many/most kids) comes from a general societal tendency we have to coddle, protect and over-parent our kids throughout childhood. I grew up in an upper-middle-class family with caring, slightly over-protective parents and yet I was still allowed to play outside until the streetlights came on at age 8 or 9, my mom never checked on my homework, and I was taking public transit or walking almost 2 miles to school at age 11. These days parents are expected to sign off on homework daily, and they get arrested for allowing their kids to play at a park unsupervised. This expectation of constant parental supervision means pre-teens don't get the chance to develop the skills and confidence of being responsible for themselves, and the independence and responsibility required in high school requires a very big leap indeed.

I'm grateful that I've been able to sidestep much of this modern helicoptering by living where I do (in a rural hippie-ish corner of Canada) and by keeping my kids out of school for many years (so that they didn't internalize mainstream ideas about how little kids are capable of handling). When they entered high school it was certainly a very big transition for them, but they had plenty of experience with old-fashioned levels of independence and responsibility so they were well-equipped to cope with that transition on their own.

Of course my comments above are generalizations. I do understand that for kids with learning disabilities and mental health issues -- anxiety disorders in particular -- a much more vigorous form of adult support may be required. On average, though, I think that we expect far too little independence and responsibility of our kids for far too many years of their childhood. It's no wonder they arrive at adolescence still needing so much support.

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Old 08-24-2014, 07:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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On average, though, I think that we expect far too little independence and responsibility of our kids for far too many years of their childhood. It's no wonder they arrive at adolescence still needing so much support.

Miranda
I wonder about this. Part of me tends to agree with this on a societal level OTOH, I think the relationship dynamics many of us are talking about are similar to what we may have experienced with our own parents.

What I'm experiencing with my DC feels very much like a part of growing and evolving as a family. I'm willing to talk about it being both wonderful and frustrating but I'm reluctant to apply some sort of societal or cultural blame because that would betray what feels more like a natural and essential transition.

My DC does a theater program with a local school - I'll have her look up 13.

Oh, and I got a book called "The Drama Years". DC and I haven't read it yet.

** We're back to school starting tomorrow. So looking forward to the routine!

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Old 08-24-2014, 08:22 PM
 
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I think the distance in connection that forms during these years is just related to a daughter's need to individuate. Having learned from her mom for all the years leading up to it, she needs to begin to figure out ways she is different and ways she is similar. Part of discovering who she is, now that she has more of an awareness of her own personality. To the extent that mom tries to make her a replica of her (blurred boundaries), she has to work harder at individuation and being different. A mom who completely accepts her in all her choices and doesn't set any limits at all gives her nothing to "push" against. The healthiest state (in my opinion) is somewhere in the middle---accepting her emerging personality and 'getting to know' the new young woman, while setting limits and having boundaries that the family still enforces. Middle school (7-8th grade) are hard because all of this is being re-negotiated, and puberty is causing her to figure out her emerging sexuality as well. It's complicated!! I agree with others that it begins to resolve some, and daughters are less conflicted by around 15 or 16, provided they have that blend of parental support and acceptance and parental limits!

 
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Old 08-24-2014, 08:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Good point, Lauren. Somewhere around this house I have a child development book about the teen years (Bates-Ames). I'll probably find it once DC is 15. ;-)

I am reminded in this discussion about toddlerhood (maybe because I also still have a toddler). I think there's a lot to be said for effective parenting but we know as parents of toddlers that there will be challenges and that some of those challenges exist because of an essential developmental hurdle our kids need to go through. Separation anxiety comes to mind as something that is normal and expected - not the result of some dysfunction.

Perhaps part of me is feeling a tad defensive at the notion that this dynamic I'm/we're discussing is avoidable. I do think it is, for some, sure. Just as some children never really experience separation anxiety. But I don't feel that this sort of phase is a negative. It has it's frustrations, yes, but I don't think I'd trade it.

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Old 08-24-2014, 09:55 PM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post
I wonder about this. Part of me tends to agree with this on a societal level OTOH, I think the relationship dynamics many of us are talking about are similar to what we may have experienced with our own parents.
Sure, there's a lot about adolescence that hasn't changed in a generation or three. But the level of support needed around age-old rites of passage like starting high school seems to be different now. That's what I was speaking to.

Miranda

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