Fighting With My Teens
by Renee Brown
We all have them—the ugly parenting moments that make us cringe in memory. Fighting with my teens in that extreme way: yelling, slamming doors, throwing things, threats, tears, blurting out criticism. Both parents and kids do this, and it really peaks as adolescence chugs along.
I have had some intense arguments with my boys that exploded in shards of misunderstanding, sadness, and frustration. One thing I’ve always tried to do is apologize later, when my heart rate has settled down and my tears have dried. I felt it was important to show my boys the value of apologizing for actions that had no merit. I grew up with a dad who never, ever admitted he was wrong. And I saw how difficult that made things for my mom and my brothers. Gratefully I’ve witnessed my boys apologizing for lashing out to me; and I always accept the apology, forgive them, hug them, and move on.
As a single mom, fighting with my teens can be extra brutal. Without the other parent in the home, we have no united front, no team to stand with arm in arm. There have been many nights that I lay on my bed crying hard, praying for help, wishing someone would step in and rescue me. After one particularly trying argument, I took to my journal and did a freestyle writing exercise of letting it all out on the page, no editing allowed. I ranted, I spewed, I whined. Here are some of the things I scribbled: “Take my life…please!” “Parenting requirements: one very large can of whoop #$&,” “Parenting solo: it’s not for the weak of heart,” “Self loathing: your endlessly loyal sidekick.”
I’m a big believer in expressing emotions via positive outlets and writing is my go-to relief. Being able to take what is raging through my veins and spill it onto paper really lightens my load. Other times, I’m too agitated and need to talk it out. One night, I drove my van just one block from home to sit in the quiet away from my son so I could rant to my best friend about him on the phone. (Note: I was also wearing pajamas and had wet hair, but my need to talk to someone was more powerful than my pride!)
No one is immune to these arguments; it’s just the way it is when you are raising teens. Adolescence is often referred to as a repeat of the toddler years and I think you’re probably shaking your head in agreement over that. When things are calm, think about what helps soothe you after an argument, and vow to turn to one (or more) of those resources when needed. And remember to apologize, when needed—sincerely and lovingly. You will make it through!
Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.