My sophomore year was a tough one for my parents and me. I sought the attention of guys just for the sake of having their attention. I wanted nothing more than to know I could grab their attention at my will. My ploys didn’t work with one guy. When he let me know that he wasn’t interested in me, I became angry. After everyone was in bed I got on instant messenger and let off steam with another friend on the family computer. I was angry and my language expressed that, curse words and all. For whatever crazy reason, I printed out the conversation, but forgot to take it from the printer. The next person to use the computer was Dad. I was busted. It was all there for Dad to read.
I was punished for obvious reasons and various other house rules I broke in the process. But I felt like my grounding did not address the real issue, which was my hurt. I broke the rules so I could talk to my friend about my feelings. I was too stubborn to express this to my parents. This began a cycle of me acting out in negative ways because I couldn’t express my true feelings to my parents while they remained clueless.
A Struggle Of Parent Teen Communication
I now see that the root of the problem during my teen years was a lack of communication with my parents. Like most teenagers I was frustrated with my insecurity and disappointing my parents. Like many parents and teenagers, I did not know how to communicate my problems, and my parents did not know what was causing my frustration. My parents thought they were giving me useful advice and beneficial punishments but since I didn’t tell them the real problems they couldn’t help me. I became more upset that they weren’t dealing with the real issues, even though I failed to tell them what they were. This cycle ended with rebellious and immature decisions.
My lack of maturity created a gap between my family and myself. As time passed I could see the difference between my sisters’ relationship with our parents and my own. It was very hurtful to witness the damage I had done and not know how to fix it. I realized that I had to move out and mature on my own to be able to mend my relationships. And although I do regret my stubbornness and immaturity, I do not regret moving out so soon. I think that was the only way to stop the emotional turmoil.
A different kind of communication between my parents and me might have led to a healthier relationship. I needed to feel that it was safe for me to be honest. I needed my parents to understand my needs without pushing their own predetermined solution.
Below are a few suggestions that would have made a difference for me:
Healthier Family Relationship Tips
- No yelling or harsh words.
- Listening. Let your kids see in your eyes that you’re listening.
- Checking your emotions. Have the conversation before doling out the consequences. In this way the consequences will more accurately address the issue and won’t be fueled by emotions from both sides.
- Letting your kid know that whatever he tells you, he’s not going to get in more trouble.
- Nurturing respect as a communication style for both parent and teen.
Looking back, I wish I had been able to change my attitude and communication style with my parents in order to improve our relationship. As far as the social decisions I made, I can’t say I would reverse them. I believe I am a stronger person because of my teen years. I appreciate that I learned to deal with manipulative relationships and social cliques as a teenager. That being said, my parents were instrumental in helping me to improve my behavior as I matured. My mother’s constant input and advice eventually sunk in.
I have this hope – that when I have children, I will remember this lesson: As a parent, I must try to understand my kids and realize I don’t know the whole story.