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.