That was me!
I’m not talking about kids affected by major trauma or with severe behaviour issues or mental health issues today. Today, I’m talking about inherently good, smart kids who seem to love trouble. That was me. I knew what was right but I seemed to love to choose the wrong way, the hard way and go against the grain. One problem was I hit puberty extremely young. First one in my class and years before most of my friends. Hormones weren’t nice to me.
Now I know I can’t blame all my troubles on hormones. Much of it was my personality. I was strong, creative, a doer, too much energy and too smart. I have always thought I was older than my actual years. I remember being in grade two and thinking marriage wasn’t too far off! I was ready for my first boyfriend. How crazy is that?
My mother is a lot like me. Or I am like her. She is also strong, creative, a doer, loads of energy, and smart and wise. Yes, I think they are different and as a child I was missing the latter. Most children don’t get wise until their brains are fully developed and for boys can be around age 25! Anyways, often times parents who have children just like them don’t always get along especially if they are both strong. I always thought I was right and she always knew she was. Enter the war zone.
I can recall many of our arguments along the way. I remember trying to get out of the house in way too skimpy or see through clothes and my mom blocking the door until I took them off and then she would promptly throw them out. I would scream and yell and call her names. I remember going places I was not allowed and I remember the stern Dad chats and groundings after. I remember thinking my Mom was out to get me, she clearly didn’t know how old I was and she really had no idea how smart I was. I wished for a new mother. I even wished my Dad would divorce her so I could get a new Mom and I was certainly going to live with him not her. I feel pretty awful about how I acted in those years.
I did manage to get away with quite a lot of dangerous activities and when I think of my daughters in grade 7 and 8 doing anything half as dangerous I cringe. God definitely had angels looking out for me as we were downtown Hamilton late at night or almost taken by a strange woman when we were supposed to be at home. Most definitely protected while we explored a condemned, flooded, fire damaged house. Not too smart after all when I look back at my choices. But back then we thought we were pretty smart; smarter than our parents for sure.
Today, my Mom encourages others when she says she had my bags packed at age 10 and was ready to find a new home for me. The people she encourages is other moms who are having a hard time with their own teens. I have needed to remember those times as a mother of teens. Teens can be very hard and emotionally exhausting. We have had teens ranging from super easy to super difficult. Our oldest son paved the way by taking his own road at an early age. He was bound and determined not to do whatever it was we were suggesting. If we said work, he would sleep. If we said go to school, he would skip. He thought we were always wrong. My Mom said, it serves me right. I knew he was the way he was because I was the same way with my Mom. Not really but that’s how it felt. I was getting an idea of how difficult my Mom had it with me. Our next two girls sailed through the teen years with minor troubles in comparison to their older brother who had long been evicted from our home.
My point is no matter how great of a parent you are, your teens can range anywhere on the “I made dinner Mom” to ripping your hair out spectrum. Personalities, hormones, behaviours, and biology make a huge difference to each child. We have experienced teens from all ends of that spectrum. Teens are not easy. The worst is when you think things are fine and then, smack, nope you find out there was trouble brewing under the surface for ages and you weren’t aware. Teens are really great at hiding things. If only they would realize that talking about issues makes life so much easier. They worry about things that they probably don’t even have to worry about if they would just ask and get the truth.
I have no magical solution to teens as there isn’t one; each child is different. I turned around by getting pregnant at 15. Now that sounds crazy and terrifying to most parents but it truly did make me grow up quickly (for real this time) and helped me to find God in my life. It helped me to push harder and work harder than ever before. The best part was I started to respect my Mom. I started to get a glimpse of how good she was and how lucky I was to have her and my Dad. It woke me up to this thing called consequences. I didn’t truly see how much I loved and needed my mom until I moved out. Once I had the control I thought I always wanted I wanted, I wanted to give it back. I called my mom after being out of her house for a week crying, “I don’t want to be an adult anymore!” I missed her doing all the hard work that I didn’t realize she was doing like paying bills and cleaning and constant laundry and making meals EVERY DAY! It was a lot to do all on my own.
Challenges can help us to grow and learn and thrive. I have seen some kids grow into strong people because they have had to. Many parents would think they are failures if their teen makes a bad move. Once kids turn into teens, they are making their own decisions. Parents are no longer responsible for the choices their teens are making. Now parents do need to take some responsibility if they are allowing their kids to do dumb things like allowing a teen to drive without a license or giving their kids drugs. Then yes, parents would have to take some responsibility for their kids actions. We as parents need to encourage our kids of all ages to make wise choices every day but if they don’t we need to help them learn and grow from their missteps.
My prayer for all parents is that they do their best to teach their children when they are young, rules, truth and what is right. Our oldest trouble maker grew up and he has turned out well. He always knew what was right. He wasn’t necessarily doing what he knew was right but he knew what it was. I knew when I was doing something wrong. I knew when the choices I was making were not wise. All we can do as parents is continue to show our children how the choices they make have consequences for them and others.
How were you as a child/teen? Did you turn out well? If you spend time reading, I’m guessing you did unless maybe you’re reading this from jail? Either way, I’d love to hear your experience. Comment or message me!