Yesterday morning I met two colleagues at the copier. They were discussing their teenage children. One immediately asked me, "What mean things are your kids saying to you?" I honestly replied, "They aren't." She sarcastically came back with, "I know, your kids are good."
Many, many years ago I learned a valuable lesson from the La Leche League group I was involved in and that is as parents we need to be our children's biggest supporters. Rather than focusing on the negatives about their personality, let them overhear you sharing a wonderful story about them. Also, talk about them in private as you would if they were there with you. If I heard my children or husband talking about me the way I hear parents talk about their children, it would honestly break my heart. What is worse, I hear parents saying these awful things about their kids in front of them.
As my kids get older, they are developing their own opinions about life and yes, there are times that we disagree and times we get angry with each other. That same thing happens sometimes with adults. We disagree. However, with adults we back off before trying to control their every thought. Teenagers deserve the same respect and when they don't receive it, they fire back, just like any adult would do.
Our children do grow up and they do form their own opinions about life. This doesn't mean they are terrible. It means they are in a transition place from honoring and valuing every word you said to thinking for themselves. Would you want it to be any different? We want our children to think for themselves, yet many parents put their kids down for doing that exact thing. How can they win?
Stop and listen to your kids. Find out what they are really thinking. Remember they don't have the experiences we do and sometimes they have to live life before they can come to similar thought patterns. Compromise. Remember that like all humans, they too want individual control over many of their own actions and beliefs. And please, please, do not put your children down. When you are about to say something ugly about them to another person, think hard about something you admire about them and share it instead. Remember that they are people who are at a challenging time in their life and still need their parent's support. As a parent I always think, "As humans we NEED support and if our children can't get it from us, they are going to look elsewhere for it." Personally, I would rather work with my kids, I would rather find the amazingly good characteristics they possess, and I would rather have to change some of my judgements than risk them looking for others to give them the support they need because they can't find it at home.
I do have good kids. I am not going to lie about that or try to find negative things to say about them so that I can fit into a conversation. I know it makes people uncomfortable. Later in the day one of the colleagues mentioned my kids being good again. Luckily the secretary was sitting with us and I said, "You have good kids, right?" (She has mentioned to me how wonderful they are many times.) She said, "Oh yes!" It was then that this colleague said, "Well, my daughter really is good too." She then went on to mention many wonderful things about her. Wouldn't it be nice if all our conversations about our kids were like this?