Lanterns: The Parent Brain According to Teenagers


The Parent Brain According to Teenagers

I remember when I was smart, and then my kids became teenagers. 

When they were little, I was a genius.   I would say, “ Don’t pick your nose or your eyes will fall out.” And they would accept it as a fact and look at me with awe. Their teacher would tell them things at school, and they would come home to confirm it with mom.  

Not now.  

Now, I  am the dumbest creature walking the earth.  They think my brain is the size of a pea!  

I tell them to make their bed, and they want to argue the merit of the request.  They provide me with every argument known to man on why I am wrong, and 20 minutes later, give me the "you're so dumb" expression that only teenagers can give their parents as I tell them to make their bed. AGAIN!

I tell them not to jump out of the hayloft,  and they give me the "you're so dumb" look; they jump, and we head to the hospital.  AGAIN.  (Are you sensing a pattern here?)  It happens so often in my house that they know us on a first-name basis in the emergency room.  

I can not wait for the day that I am not a human veggie!  That day is roughly 14 years.

My advice to all parents:  Just because your kids think you are stupid, don’t buy into it.  Most teenagers are nothing more than big toddlers. Their pre-frontal cortex is not fully developed, and as such, they do not understand logic and reasoning.  

The ability to act and think the same as an adult does not develop until they are about 25. We are led to believe that it is o.k. for kids to be given many freedoms, and parents make the mistake of thinking their child is not going to screw it up.  The teen shows that many pre-teens watch, iCarly, for example, don’t show parents in an active role of parenting. You can not parent a teen from a distance. Get in their business. I can’t tell you how many times a “good kid” makes the big mistakes.  

My kids call me a stalker, and I am proud of it.  My kids are not allowed to run free except at home. Lucky for them they are growing up on a farm and have plenty of room to roam.  When they ask to go to a friend's house, it is a game of 20 questions. Who’s going to be there?  What are you going to do?  Are you planning on leaving?  Are their parents going to be home?  Have they been making good choices? And the list goes on…

But, I go even further.  I don’t take their word for it.  I show up.  They know this.  I have done it to all of them.  It keeps them honest, and it gives them a way out.  When their friends say, “Come on, she’ll never know.”  My kid’s reply, “Have you met my mom?  Yes, she will, and she'll kill me.”  Does it make them mad? Not really.  Do they feel like I don’t trust them?  Yep, probably. Do they think it is stupid? Definitely, but I don't care. They are kids, and kids make impulsive decisions all the time that affects their lives for a lot longer than just the teenage years.  It is not my job to be popular; it’s my job to keep them safe.

I have friends who give their child a phone, and then secretly track them.  There is no need.  Why keep it a secret?  Let them know you are watching.  Let them know you care.  Kids need boundaries; it makes them feel secure.  There are also parents who use the phone as their only source of checking.  They call and ask where the child is and take their word for it. In my opinion, this is stupid….reality check.  Kids lie, even good ones.

I don’t get my kids a phone until they start driving, and even then, they hand it over to be checked.  I will never forget when my oldest son came home from college.  He walked in, and I ask how the drive had been.  I stuck out my hand to take his bag, and he gave me his phone.  I started laughing. He was confused.  Habits die hard.  

I don’t give my kids privacy--  they don’t need it. I read their texts and have access to all of their files, or they lose their phone.  Why?  So they can grow up at the correct speed and not too soon. They tell their friends not to send them things that I would not like, and if they do get something inappropriate, they have learned to tell be before I find out on my own, because they aren't allowed to delete anything.  They think my overprotection is stupid; I think it is in their best interests, and interestingly enough, they haven't lost any friends.  In fact, most of them think I'm pretty cool.

My kids respect me even when they think my rules are stupid. When my next son wanted a phone, the answer was, "No, you don’t need it."  His friends thought it was terrible.  One day they were discussing it at lunch, trying to find a way to change my mind.  A boy that did not know me said he would give my son one of his old phones and then I couldn't do anything about it.  My son’s reply, “She would smash it with a hammer. She said NO.” (And, I would have-  I don't believe in empty threats).  The boy could not believe it.  Another boy then replied. “You don’t know his mom.” There was a chorus of “that’s stupid,” but my son's life went on.

I know my kids don’t understand and think I’m stupid. They think my jokes are dumb, my rules are ridiculous, and that I am overprotective.  They never believe that I can foresee the consequences of their behavior, but, they know I love them. They also know that when push comes to shove, momma’s got their back.  Unfortunately, I will be a walking, talking vegetable until the last one is grown, but that is o.k.. because then it will be their turn, and I will get to make fun of how stupid they have become.


Written by Rae Ashcraft

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