My mom used to tell me that having your own child say “I hate you” is like a rite of passage, and you hardly qualify as a parent until that happens. I always thought that was a funning thing to say, and yet I can understand the sentiment. It is true that only a parent can understand the heart wrenching feeling that comes when your beloved child utters those three awful words. And yet simultaneously, that same parent experiences a comical amusement, as it is so obvious that they don’t hate you. That is, until they actually do.
The teenage years aren’t easy, and you may find that a lot of this blog is used trying to navigate my own parental minefield of teenage angst. I love my teens. I love them to no end. But you need to know that I love them because they are my children, and if any other human on the face of the planet treated me the way that they do, I would not have them in my life. I love them, and I tell them I love them multiple times a day. I have to keep vocalizing and telling them that, even when I feel anger, hurt, betrayal and sadness. They still need to hear that I love them.
Okay, so now that my love for my teens is not in question, let’s get real. I am fairly certain that Faith (my 14 year old) hates me. Those words that she so carelessly uttered when she was four years old seem to hold so much more weight now. Her words actually hurt, and I know she understands the meaning of hate now. It’s not just the words though; she does whatever she can to avoid being in the same room (or the same house even) with me for any given amount of time. Unless I’m dropping hundreds of dollars on her getting her nails done or buying her new clothes, she wants nothing to do with me. Anything I say gets disregarded with a simple eye roll, a heavy sigh, and a hair flip. To her, I am literally the dumbest person on the face of the planet. I have to tell you, it is hard. It is emotionally draining and no amount of red wine fixes it (I’ll keep trying though).
So here is my theory that I feel like I actually learnt years ago in a university psych course. Similar to when you are pregnant and you’re nearing the end of your pregnancy, and you want to be done being pregnant, the teen years are strategically and perfectly painful. Teens need to push boundaries, rebel, and find their own path. They need to get under their parents’ skin and separate themselves. And THIS is so us as parents can let them go; we can let them move out without a great deal of remorse, and likely be very happy about it. In fact, maybe there’ll be a party. It is a biological phase of separation and it needs to happen. Now with that said, I’m not sure it needs to happen to the degree that it is in our house, but it does help to remember the bigger picture.
If you find yourself drowning in teenage angst and the nearest floaty appears to have a hole in it, remember this: you are not alone, you are a good parent, and your teens are just assholes. They will eventually get through this, and so will you. Also, feel free to join us over at Surviving your Teenager, a Facebook group I created for parents of teens. Only requirement is that you have an actual teenager. See you on the flip side all you wonderful brave parents, you got this. We all do. (just say it!)