WITH THE ADDITION of our 16 year old granddaughter, we now have three teenaged girls in our home.And that is besides the 14 year old boy, the 9 year old boy and the 6 mo. old baby.
Girls are catty. The
boys slug one another in the gut, cry for five minutes and forget the whole thing. Girls are much meaner. They home in on
their adversaries’ insecurities like heat-seeking missiles that explode where they can do the most damage.
And there is always collateral damage. Usually it is the destruction of our peaceful afternoons.
If one of them gets too chummy with another one’s friends, hell breaks loose.
If one of them is too slow in “flashing” to call waiting for another one’s message, woe is us.
And getting them to do their laundry on time is a problem, as is getting them off the phone. Maybe it is the Beyonder
in me, but I see no lasting value in talking to a boyfriend for an hour a night. I
mean—what do you say? After “ The cat ate myhair scrunchy today
anderped it up on the carpet,”What’s
I mean, you could discuss the supper menu and give him recipes, but who cares?
I found out recently that if you are sneaky enough, you can unplug the phone base and it will cut the call off. What
teen checks to see if the phone is unplugged when her call drops?
And as for laundry, the third time girls have to wear the same underwear, they get the point. DO IT ON YOUR DAY OR
FORGET IT FOR ANOTHERT WEEK!But teens are almost a different species, and everything
is so different from the “60’s” that it is another world.
Jay McGraw has some good points for dealing with teens in his book “Closing the Gap: A Strategy for Bringing
Parents and Teens Together.He points out that teens seem to have some odd ideas
about their parents.
First, teens think that their
parents don’t want them to have any fun.They see their parents’
reluctance to allow them to caravan to a nearby town for the madness movie festival as stodgy. We see it as protective.
Second, teens believe we only
care about the things they do for us. Most teens are energy challenged when it comes to chores and homework. We devote
so much time to teaching them these skills and to get them to help us with the considerable work of keeping up a home, that
it probably does seem it is all we care about.
They think we don’t know
what it’s like to be a teen. Hey! I remember acne and braces and the boy next door with the cop car that still
had the spot light on it.
Teens believe we want to control
their lives. Well? So?I read that there is a part of the brain which
controls impulses which doesn’t mature until about 25. If teens are physically more prone to impulsive behavior, someone
has to rein it in. And we aren’t with them most of their waking hours. They make lots of decisions on their own.
They think we
don’t want them to grow up.Wrong. I dreaded the first day of
school—seeing my adorable toddler become a kindergartner. I look forward to the diploma and the calls from college.
Having another adult living in the house would be an even greater strain.
There are other things
on the list. Then McGraw talks about the misconceptions parents have about teens.
be their friends. I think we can. I hope we can. But the kind of friend
who doesn’t let his friend drive stupid.
A good relationship is a peaceful one.Wrong. You have
to have rules and you have to have boundaries. Kids will buck them. That doesn’t mean your relationship is in shreds.
I confronted a foster child about some of her behavior and gave her some stiff consequences. The next day she asked if we
would ever consider adopting her.
You have to always
see eye to eye with your teen. Good luck. Most of them are bigger than we are. And they’re becoming adults.
Do you agree with everything the other adults in your life believe?
And there are more points.
Then he gets to the good
part.How to work together to better a relationship.
Get to know your parents needs
and how to meet them. They may just need to know you’re safe when they’re not around.
Communicate with your parents
instead of rebelling. Slamming doors is not communicating.
If you want your parents to stop nagging you to do chores, try doing them.
Put yourself in your parents’shoes. Would you like your teenager to call you stupid?
Prove you are responsible
And for the parents?
Communicate with your teen.
You won’t get anywhere by being a totalitarian dictator.
Then, knowing the consequences, the child has a choice.
Take the time
to discuss the reasoning behind a decision. The “ Because I said so” approach may work with a small child, but not with a teen verging on
adulthood who must learn to make his own decisions.
Take the time
to talk WITH your kids. In a number of polls, that is the greatest “felt” need of teenagers.
AND FROM DR.
PHIL.COM?THE FOLLOWING :
"I can't remember ever getting
along with my stepfather Steve," says Ashley, 17, who's lived with him since she was 7. " Every little thing I do makes Steve
mad...He makes me feel like he doesn't care about me." Steve says he loves Ashley, but he'd "like to see her be more motivated
with school and around the house." They're missing the bond that a father and daughter have, he says, because they "just don't
A parent's love should not be conditional
on whether or not a child works hard or cleans up her room, says Dr. Phil, pointing out that Steve, too, acted irresponsibly
as a teenager.
"One of the things we don't do enough is to regard one another as human beings," says Dr. Phil. "We
look past people all the time, but we don't ever look at them." Instructing Ashley and Steve to look each other in the eyes,
he has them stand with a gap between them.
As they tell each other what
they are each willing to do to close the gap in their relationship, Ashley and Steve can take steps toward one another.
"I'm willing to tell her I love her every night before I go to bed," says Steve. "I'm willing to show
him respect every day. I don't do much of that now," says Ashley
Mike and his 14-year-old daughter
Shawna fight constantly. She thinks he says "no" to everything without explaining why. "He says no to tight clothing, no
white lying ... no going places when he doesn't know the people who are going to be there, no riding in cars with people he
doesn't know, no to spending too much time online, getting any belly button piercings or any more earring holes..."
"If you're going to have a good
relationship, you need to know his needs so you can try to meet them," suggests Jay. "Send a message: 'I will follow your
rules. You can trust me.'" Shawna needs to prove that she's responsible and assure her father that she's safe. Dr. Phil
has Mike and Shawna try a role reversal. If they listen to each other and explain their reasoning, they can negotiate a plan
that works for both of them.
When asked by her mom when she'd
clean her room, Courtney, 14, answered, "When I feel like it."
"She just nags me constantly," says Courtney, who has
called her single mom "stupid," "retarded," and "mean."
"Does it make sense to you that you should be able to talk to your mother in that disrespectful way?"
asks Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil and Jay uncover that Courtney would actually like more discipline.
"Basically, I can do anything,"
she says. "Sometimes I just want to be told no," says Courtney.
"Kids need to be able to predict the consequences of their actions with 100 percent accuracy," says Dr.
Forgiveness is a skill we need to learn--and teach. After the murder of our son, I struggled with this issue. The following
article was written for a Christian publication. The truths , though are universal.
The Forgiving Point
by Caryl Harvey
They say to forgive is divine.Sometimes I think it’s closer to
truth to say “ To forgive is next to impossible.”I didn’t
want to forgive the man who killed my son; I wanted to hurt him.Badly.Yet Christians are called to forgive.
I struggled with that disparity for six years.I heard stories of Christians
who forgave people who deeply wronged them.Some of them, like me, were parents
of murder victims.I figured they were super-Christians; it was beyond normal
Christianity to forgive someone who had devastated their lives.Then, last year,
I discovered a truth about forgiveness: it is action, not emotion.And there
are five stepsI learned to follow to reach that point in my life.The Forgiving Point.
1. IDENTIFY WHO YOU NEED TO FORGIVE.That sounds simplistic, doesn’t
it?You know who struck the blow, who whispered the innuendo, who wounded your
spirit.I held other grudges, too.I
was mad at my husband for not grieving the way I did, at my neighbor for hinting my life would soon return to normal and even
at myself for not doing more to “hurt-proof” my child.The first
two were easy to address.I’m still working on the last one.
2. UNDERSTAND WHY YOU NEED TO FORGIVE. The other person, the one who comes to mind when you focus on your anger, isn’t
in need of your pardon.Not unless he’s remorseful and asks you to forgive
him.In some cases, like the neighbor who spoke out of ignorance, the other person
may not even know he hurt you.
You forgive because you need to.God designed us with a low tolerance
for bitterness.Steam, from water boiling in a too-small pot, rattles the lid
and escapes.In the same way, resentment eventually bubbles over into our lives.We’re angry at the wrong people...at the wrong times.We distance ourselves from people and things that could help us.We isolate ourselves from relationships that might fail.We’re afraid
to love.We can become obsessed with revenge.
God tells us that unless we forgive, we can’t be forgiven.That’s
because He offers everyone His unmerited grace.He wants a clear path of communication
with us.He liberates us and He wants us to stay that way, not putting ourselves
in slavery to anger, not getting lost in obsession.
Obsession isn’t a place I wanted to be.That feels too much like
loss of control.Free falling through emotions.I needed to forgive so I could get on with my life.My son’s murderer
isn’t remorseful. By obsessing over getting justice, I allowed him to control my life.Still, did forgiving him involve embracing him, absolving him of blame and consequence?
I don’t think I could do that.I don’t believe most Christians
could.That’s where the next step comes in.Armed with a list of who we need to forgive and understanding why we need to forgive, we can proceed to how we forgive.
3. REALIZE FORGIVING IS AN ACTION, NOT AN EMOTION.Translations of Biblical
references to forgiving center around two ideas: absolving and releasing.The
first, absolving, is something reserved for God alone.The Greek word is aphesis, and it means to pardon or set at liberty. Jesus came to set the captives of sin at liberty. In Mark 2,
verses five through seven, Jesus uses this fact—that only God can forgive sins—to establish His divinity with the scribes. We can’t forgive sins for one another.And we can’t forgive someone God hasn’t even forgiven yet.
The second word is aphiemi.It means to lay aside, to let alone or yield up.This makes sense when
you remember that God says several times, in Scripture, “Vengeance is mine.”We aren’t responsible for exacting justice.God is.And I don’t believe God expects us to rush, open armed to the ones who hurt us.He does want us to lay aside our animosity.To quit the quarrel.To release them to God.That’s
not as easy as it sounds.Sometimes we need help.That leads us to point four.
4. DECIDE TO LET GO.Resolve, just for today, not to harbour thoughts of retribution.Tomorrow you’ll have to make that decision again.If
you can get through today, you can get through tomorrow.The goal is —eventually—not
to think of the person who wronged you at all.
If you need a visual
aid for this step, try writing the name of the person you’re trying to forgive on a piece of paper.Then tell God you’re releasing your enemy to Him for judgement.Wad up the paper and throw it away.The next step is harder: WALK AWAY
from the wastebasket.Turn your back.Leave
your anger and resentment with the other spent items of your life.
5. MAKE TOMORROW HAPPEN.
In Matthew 12, Jesus said that a man, freed from demons, needed to fill his life with something else so the demons wouldn’t
return to the cleaned-out house with his friends and make things worse than they were.It’s not enough to strip ourselves of animosity, negativity and hate. We need to reclothe ourselves with positive
things.There are children who need mentors.There are charities that need workers. There is poetry to read and music to make and quilts to piece.
Eventually, if your adversary
does ask for your forgiveness, you’ll have to go the extra mile.You’ll
have to find something positive in your relationship with him.Jesus told Peter
if his enemy sinned against him and then came, asking forgiveness, Peter had to give it.Seventy- times- seven times, if need be.That’s another level, and
God will give the grace to get there.Until then, be content in the absence of
malice.In centering your thoughts on the positive things in God’s world.
In releasing your adversary to God.In finding the Forgiving Point.
The Power of the Spoken Word
I have been re-reading a great book for Beyonder parents to get: “Off
Road Parenting” by Caesar Pacifici Ph.D, Patricia Chamberlain, PH. D. and Lee White ( who wasn’t Ph anything)
One of the things they stress is that parents should NEVER lecture. I have to take issue with that statement. First,
how many times have you told your kids Never to say Never?
I think in certain incidents, with certain kids, there is POWER IN THE SPOKEN WORD.
Of course, the age of the child is important. Lecturing works best with teens. Active teens. On a time schedule.
And the infraction matters—that is, the size of it…the importance of assuring it never happens again. (Or
at least so that you never find out about it again and don’t have to deal with it) I’m not talking about stealing
or battering or sexual misconduct. I’m talking about their putting pants into the wash without checking the pockets
for pens and assorted markers as well as chewing gum (which is incompatible with most dryer functions) or wearing your best
tee shirt to school and getting marinara sauce all over the sequined image of George Harrison.
Lecturing is an art. Voice modulation is key. OR, rather, lack of it. A
flat tone is imperative in an effective lecture. If that doesn’t come easily for you—if you find yourself actually
getting in to the subject and raising the pitch or the tempo—try concentrating on something else. Think of reading ingredient
labels on the back of cereal boxes. In fact—keep some labels at hand for impromptu lectures.
The ability to recall events from at least twenty years past is an asset
as well. There is no real advantage to remembering things from the forties or earlier. Actually, you can make events up as
they occur to you. The important thing is that they COULD have happened that way.
The location of the lecture is important, too. There must be a clock at
hand, easily visible to both you and the lectur-ee. Lectures are most effective if
performed when there is a real time constraint. And lectures should ALWAYS be delivered with appropriate empathy (a la
Jim Fay—Love and Logic.)
My lectures usually start out something like this:
ME: Uh, Sweetie—Can I talk to you a minute? ( kid glances nervously at clock)
Oh—do you have some place you need to be?
KID: I’m supposed to meet the guys. We’re going to work on our blocking for the game this weekend.
ME: Well, I’m sorry if I have to make you late. I mean, I know you guys are really trying to shine out there
in left field.
KID: That’s baseball. I’m a linebacker.
ME: Ah. Well, I’m glad to know that. But I need to talk to you about
( I usually pick up something off the counter at this point and stare at it blankly for a few moments. The kid can’t
keep his eyes off the clock)
I—uh—I pulled the clothes out of the dryer this morning and found ink all over everything. I mean, your
new dress shirt is history.
KID: I’m really sorry. I’ll watch it from now on. (Starts toward door)
ME: Yeah, That’s probably a good idea. You know, when I was you age—no, I might have been a few years older.
Wait. Let’s see—your uncle Jim was born in ’48 and he would
have been in the eighth grade—so I would have been a year younger than you when this happened—and you’ll
get a kick out of this—I washedmy mother’s stuffed cat with the
sheets one time. Or maybe it was a stuffed bear. Yeah. It was. It was a stuffed bear. Anyway—I started the washer without
checking on what was inside and –well, when your grandmother took the stuff out she found this flat bear and she yelled
at me.My mother didn’t raise her voice very often. You probably have noticed
that I don’t either. The theory is that if you talk in a raised voice a lot, kids won’t know when you are really
upset about something and—where was I? Oh yes, the stuffed cat—I mean bear.
By now the kid is biting his lip, staring at the second hand on the clock and dancing like he has to go to the bathroom
or something, which he well may.
ME: Anyway, back when I was a kid most homes didn’t have clothes dryers. Mothers hung clothes out on the line
until—let’s see…when did we get our first clothes dryer? I think it was a year or so after we got the TV.
Did you know our first TV was a black and white? No color back then. Well, there
was color, I mean even in 1939 they were making movies in color—but most TVs were black and white.
The kid is really antsy now—bouncing like a boxer before a bout.
ME: But the main point of the story is that you should be careful about what you put__
KID: I know, I’m sorry. What if I do the laundry for the next month?
ME: Well, that is certainly generous. I don’t know if I would have—
KID: and I’ll pay for the shirt, okay?
ME: Well, I sure didn’t mean to make you pay for your clothes, I mean—when I was a kid—I think you’re being more than fair because—I sure wouldn’t—of course I didn’t
have a job when I was—Hey. Didn’t you have someplace to go?
KID: Not anymore. Maybe I’ll just study or something.
Note that the effectiveness of the lecture
does not depend on what you say. You could even recite the preamble to the Constitution—or the Prologue to Canterbury
Tales – “Wan that aprila with its shura soota the drought of March hath
perced to the roota—” Another possibility (after addressing the problem in the first few minutes) would be
to read the instructions and extra features section of the phone book.
the lecture itself was the consequence. Any forfeiture of plans was a logical outgrowth of the need to address the behavior
in a timely manner. The added benefits of the child censuring himself (I’ll pay for it and do the laundry) speak for
themselves. Clearly YOU are not the cause of the problem.
I firmly believe that—with the right
child, in the right circumstances—lecturing is a good disciplinary tool.
But back to “Off Road Parenting.”
authors) believe in disciplining teens with extra chores.
BUT THEY CAUTION:
1)Don’t pick chores that require a lot of supervision—it
could end up being more of a punishment for you
2)Don’t give chores that require the use of strong-smelling
solvents—some children will get high on inhaled fumes
3)Make sure you don’t care too much about it—the
child probably will not put his heart into it( my son-in-law has the kids dig
a hole—a big hole—then fill it in again)
4)Don’t threaten an extra chore if he does or doesn’t
do something—that’s a bribe. An extra chore should be a consequence to a behavior.
5)If your child is very defiant, adding an extra chore won’t
work because he probably won’t do it. Take away a privilege instead,
6)An extra chore should not be too physically demanding.
Nothing that will inflict physical or emotional harm
And, the authors of “Off Road
KEEP IT SMALL
AND—REMAIN POSITIVE AND ENCOURAGING.
Some Problems with discipline?
Idon’t discipline until
I get really mad—
If you wait until you’re mad,
it’s too late—you’re reacting, not thinking
When I get mad I start yelling and my childdoesn’t listen
Take time to calm down….even
leave for a few minutes—then deliver the consequence in a neutral tone of voice. If you yell he will hear the anger,
not the consequence.
I often give more than one consequence
If you’re removing a privilege
and sending him to his room, you could be waiting too long to act. Intervene early. Try giving one consequence at a time,
increasing the severity of the consequence every time
I find myself reacting and not knowing what I want to do.
Have a plan of action each time
Sometimes it’s not worth the effort and I let some misbehavior slide.
No one can be consistent 100% of
the time. Think about the magnitude of the behavior and the age of the child. It’s
OK to let things slide now and then. Aim for 80% consistency.
I threaten consequences, but I don’t follow through.