On Edge, But Not Yelling

One of the tactics I use for coping with a teenage daughter who is frustrating me is to remove myself from the situation.  I really, really don’t want to start yelling.  My parents both yelled a lot, and with cuss words, and used name calling and that is a path I don’t ever want to go down with my kids.  Yes, I’ve yelled, but I haven’t called them names, or used cuss words to tell them what I thought of them.  That isn’t the kind of parent I want to be.

Yesterday I took Oldest One to get vaccinations for her trip out of the country this summer, and to get the college vaccination sheet signed saying she had all the required vaccinations.  I was chatting with her in the waiting room – well, trying to – about upcoming activities.  Out of nowhere she gets an attitude, and starts in on something that surprised me, and she wasn’t very nice about it.  I tried to answer nicely, but she set me on edge.  We were sitting in chairs next to each other with our arms touching, and at the point I was getting upset I moved my body away from her in the chair, and moved my arm away from hers.

I moved away without thinking, and what made me realize I had was Oldest One immediately looking at my arm after I moved it and suddenly backtracking on what she was saying.  At that point since I was irritated I think I answered “Okay” and then started reading a book on my Kindle through my phone.  I wasn’t trying to upset her more; I was trying to get myself away from being angry.  About a minute later she was leaning towards me and had her arm on mine.

Later in the evening Oldest One, who was now in a good mood after cheer practice and because she and her friends were going to hang out during the week since it is spring break, asked me for money.  She uses The Bank of Mom & Dad.  I looked at her and half-jokingly/half seriously commented on if she deserved money to go out after being rude and not nice in the waiting room.  I was going to give her the money, I just wanted to see what she said.  She said she was frustrated and apologized, and looked like a deer in the headlights.

When I am fairly calm and tell Oldest One that her behavior is not appreciated, and that she is being rude, not nice, and not showing respect I seem to get through to her.  I’ve only done this a few times, and usually after I’ve had several days of behavior I don’t like.  Recently Oldest One and Husband had a clash, and a few days later her club cheer coach told me Oldest One had told the coaches about it, and they had told her she needed to change her attitude and get a respectful tone and recognize all we do for her.  Go coaches!

I am not a perfect parent, but I try my best to be a good one.  I know Oldest One does love and appreciate all that is done for her, but she gets lost in the teenage world view, which is limited and small, and often shows the opposite.  I can’t always talk to her and get through, but I know that if I keep trying and don’t yell there will be a point where she will want to talk, and I’ll be available, and we will bond over ice cream.

Being a Good Sport – Not

Husband was telling me about a friend’s friend who coaches a football league in town.  The team (we’ll call it Team F) made it to the playoffs out of state, and played a team that had gone undefeated for several years, and happened to be supported by a celebrity.  Team F beat this team.  When the game ended and it was time for teams to form lines and slap/shake hands, the Celebrity Team refused.  As Team F was leaving to get on the bus the parents from Celebrity Team were calling them names I’m not going to repeat and screaming they were going to kill them.

Bravo to this celebrity for fostering this type of sportsmanship.  Bravo to the coaches and parents for showing these kids how to lose gracefully, and how to be respectful and professional.  I always enjoy seeing good role models out in the world.

Team F had the same thing happen to them in the championship game, which they won.  No celebrity was involved, but more inappropriate name calling and threats.  I think it is sad that this is considered common practice in many places.

Our school football team played a team last year and this year whose parents seem to follow the rules of rudeness.  Last year I was asked to go with another Mom and sit in the visiting section because they were harassing our cheerleaders – one of whom was mine.  We just went, and smiled, and had a presence.  They quit bothering the girls once we sat down.  This year their coach kept yelling inappropriate things at our cheerleaders (new school property, still figuring out where everyone needed to stand), and the parents were still rude.  I’ve heard that between the administration’s complaints and the parent complaints we won’t be playing that team again.

People need to understand that kids take their cues from what the adults around them are doing.  If they see those adults yelling inappropriate names and threats, they’ll think it is okay, and they’ll do it too.  But, if the adults do what they should, and they act appropriate and don’t say bad things about or to the other team, the kids will instead model that behavior.

Big as sports for kids have become, parents need to step up and do what is right.  Yes, we pay a lot of money for our kids to do these sports, and of course we want to see them win.  But not everyone can win, and losing needs to be done gracefully, and without inappropriate language and behavior.  When my girls teams don’t place well in a competition we don’t start screaming at and harassing the judges – even when we don’t agree with how it turned out.  Instead, we try hard to ask them if they had fun, and how they feel about it.  Sometimes we slip and say we feel they were short changed, but that is after we have left the competition, and we aren’t rude to anyone competing or judging.

Losing is a part of life.  Not easy, not fun, but it happens to everyone at some point.  I’d prefer my girls understand how to handle it in an appropriate manner, instead of screaming obscenities and threats.  It’s a lot easier to lose and be nice about it, and then go on with life in a happy frame of mind, instead of being angry and accusing, and dwelling on it for longer than it took to play the game.