Parents, good or bad, near or far, tender or harsh, are always heroes in a young child’s eyes – the child’s survival depends on the parents or substitute parents. Then the teens come and brains change, parent heroes die.
All jokes aside, for a great many parents the shift in thoughts that come about during the late pre-teens or a bit later on turn parents from heroes to villains with one exception – the parents least responsible for trying to keep the teen remember what matters – mainly manners and values. Often this means an absent or semi-absent parent. This is most seen in adopted children who create a perfect fantasy parent and measure the parents they deal with daily by thoughts of that perfect parent. What happens is a bit too complicated to go into now. If you want more of the reasons why go to the first two links at the bottom of the page.
Suffice it to say if your child no longer wants to be seen with you in public or rolls her eyes at every piece of wisdom you seek to share, the shift has been made and for some parents, the Gotcha Wars begin.
A Gotcha War is my term for a nasty tool used by Good Kids to shrug off their own mad, bad, or sad feelings. Their goal is to make you act and look like an idiot, so they can play “Holier than thou.”
When you don’t react strongly enough to whatever provocation is hurled you way, your basically good kid starts pushing other buttons to get you angry. A skilled Gotcha Warrior can push buttons you didn’t know existed.
I learned to become a Gotcha War negotiator during my years as a foster parent trying to live peacefully with an every changing group of teens. All were sent to us by the Juvenile Justice System. Some were juvenile delinquents, but a great many were what were called Status Offenders. These had not committed a crime, but were considered beyond their parent’s ability to control and provided me with a major lesson: Status Offenders were expert Gotcha Warriors- good kids, not into law-breaking, but for a thousand different reasons out to put parents on a hot seat.
Quick mental health fact: The shrinks say extreme Gotcha Warriors suffer from a mental health disorder called Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Supposedly a disorder of childhood only, I bet you know a few adults who meet the criteria.
If you have not had all your buttons pushed by a Gotcha Warrior you have been blessed by all the benign forces of the universe. Say a million and one “Thank you’s.” For those of you who know the drill here is a bit of advice.
Tip one: Temporarily disown the kid. When a kid flipped me the bird in public I had an easier time of it, because they were not my kids. That became my advice to a parent engaged with a Gotcha Warrior who destroyed every diner out by pushing her buttons during the meal. I told her when he started shouting at her to turn to the next table and say loudly,
“Not my kid.”
Not what the parent advisers would suggest, but it worked. After twice stumping away from the table and missing out on two dinners, this Gotcha Warrior stayed at the table and ate in sullen silence. Mother could handle sullen silence.
She used the same ploy at home, “When the kid I know and love can talk to me kindly I will listen, but for now I disown you. I have better things to do then to let you abuse me.”
Tip two: Reframe the battle. The kid doesn’t hate you. You are not a failure as a parent. Quite the opposite, the kid feels safest with you; he knows in his heart you will not abandon him. Understand the battle is mainly within him. He is finding the real world painful.
Tip three: Stay strong. Don’t let sympathy woo you back to trying to use comforting words when he or she is throwing spears at you.
Tip four: If you do want to talk kindly, pick another time. If you have been a Soft Love parent, you might even consider apologizing for not adequately preparing your teen for life in the real world.
One parent wrote a note of apology that also declared she was becoming tougher on how she let her precious one treat her.
Tip five: Follow this blog, use its comments to tell me if my advice works or ask for advice.
Life as a parent is probably the hardest job in the world. Count your blessings for every good moment you can savor.
Here is my thank you or welcome to the my blog gift – a quick introduction to Twelve Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises. These are also exercises which help you soothe your ruffled feathers. For more details about staying strong as a parent buy any one of my eBooks by going to my Amazon Author’s page.
You don’t need a kindle to read ebooks from Amazon. You can download a free Kindle reader to your computer when you buy the book. If you read one of my books please help me by reviewing it. Reviews matter and you will once again.
Finally, remember two things. It is your job to prepare a child for life in the real world not in the land of Happiness Now and Ever After. Doing so means blocking the child’s desires and that means falling out of grace for at least a while. No big deal. Which brings me to the final point.
Stop trying to be a perfect parent. Not only possible but to often define in this day and age as keeping the kids happy and never, ever, punishing. Bah humbug. Punishment merely means pain applied following behavior. If the punishment is a beating, then it is abuse. For tips about proper punishing see this post of mine. Unless you are abusive, if you provide food and shelter, encourage education, if you work to teach values and manners, love your child and s/he knows it you are a good enough parent. Bask in that idea.
Remember sharing is caring and share this post if you found it useful an think another will also.
This post was inspired by this Word Press Daily Post Prompt: When you were five years old, who was your hero? What do you think of that person today?
Links of interest
DISCLAIMER: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA. If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. I have dysgraphia which means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are. Thanks for your understanding and reading my work.