I’ve been tiptoeing through the morass of teenage angst â€“ worst day of life, I’m stupid, I have no friends, everyone hates me, I hate everyone, why is everyone else getting As when they don’t even work for it â€“ being just a few of the themes. Mercifully, these rants seem to come one child at a time.
And then we had a whopper. In order to protect the privacy/identity of those involved, I won’t go into details, but let’s just say it’s been a big test of my parenting skills. The jury is still out in terms of how I’m handling it and I was surprised to be sideswiped by a pity-party kick that I wasn’t expecting: the ubiquitous widow lament “I NEED you, dammit!”
I hadn’t had it in a while. That wallop seems to only come when I’m needing that ghostly husband of mine to kick a child’s butt into submission (a whole new take on “dead-beat dad”!), which I suppose doesn’t reflect well on the ol’ dead hubby, but well, he can’t say much to defend himself, so easy for me to say. But as many fathers are, he was the hardass in these situations.
The crisis has been good in some ways, as most crises are, as it’s enabled a freer flow of communication amongst us all. It’s opened my eyes to things I hadn’t noticed before, and it tested my “balls” so to speak. By that I mean my ability to come down hard when necessary. But punishment was a gray area in this situation and I really had to decide if coming down hard was really what was needed.
Part of the problem was coming down hard meant a confiscation of items that are useful in the world of teenagers to both the teenager and the parent: cell phones, computers, cars, etc. All are a boon to me, and so I had to either find other things to confiscate or other consequences. The other part was that aftermath of the situation was in itself a form of punishment. Adding to that seemed cruel.
In the end, I’m finding that the open communication method seems to be working pretty well. I have a feeling that in this case, the arse-whipping would have backfired. At least as far as what I can see in the snapshot that is this moment.
I have to keep reminding myself that it would have been different if he was around, but not necessarily better. Still, that knowledge doesn’t ever stop me from thinking “I NEED you, dammit!” Apparently, my inner teenaged angst is alive and well.