Saturday, June 12, 2010

What You Don't Want to Happen When You're Skimming through Blogs on A Peaceful Saturday Morning

Before I tell you what you don't want to happen when you're skimming blogs, let me say that the above picture was altered using Photoshop Mobile on my Ipad. Pretty cool, huh?

Apparently the police didn't call ALL the parents last night, but they did call the Coffees. Sure, sure, call the coffees and not us so that I have to wake up in the morning and discover that my daughter snuck out last night. Of course, had they called us, they just would have interrupted a very nice nights sleep that I just had so I guess I'm not complaining.

But finding out my daughter wasn't in bed last night by reading my best friend's blog is a little disconcerting. Of course, it was fairly harmless teenage behavior, but I'm up to my ears in deception and manipulation from having endured it for 10 years from one teenager or another, so it gets more than a bit annoying.

A phone call from the other daughter's side of things was also very anxiety filled, which it always is, though I decided not to take action at this point in time. Usually the drama plays itself out in about a day and if I intervene it is just a waste of time and emotional energy. After a while you see patterns develop and not being part of the pattern, when it is so predictable, seems like a good plan.

I was reminded of my analogy of raising teens being like teaching them to drive when Sadie was driving yesterday. It was downright frightening. But I knew I had to stay in the car and take it as it came.

Cindy talked about her being so proud of Fabian today and I am too! But as Cindy explains, these years of deciding who they are going to be takes it's toll on each of these kids and, maybe even more so, on us as parents.

They are asking themselves difficult questions. Whose value system am I going to embrace? Whose way of life am I going to follow? What is going to be important to me? Who am I going to listen to? Am I going to conform myself to act like my peers even if they are making poor choices? Am I going to try to fit in or try to find a niche for myself that is unique?

And if these questions, difficult for any young adult, are made more difficult to answer by adding adoption to the mix, especially transracial adoption. Am I going to grow up to be like my parents, or my birthparents? Am I going to act the way I see other people acting who look like me -- like a person of color -- or am I going to behave like a white person like my parents? What does it mean to be one or the other, or can I really be both?

I used to work very hard to try and stop my children from making bad choices. I would follow them around and try to find them when they ran away, stay up late and check their rooms, lose sleep and worry, consequence every bad move, ground them, and all kinds of other things. And you know what? 3 of the oldest 6 have chosen to go a very different path than we would have planned. And four of the six aren't embracing our values. A couple of them are so far away from what I would want for them that I can barely accept it. And the two that are making good, moral choices may not ever be able to live independently. It's fairly discouraging. But it proved a wonderful point to me. You can't FORCE teenagers to be the person you have in mind for them.

So with this next bunch I'm trying to relax a bit. Focussing on honesty and communication. And yet they are still insisting, often, on doing things the hard way. But over-consequencing because I"m disappointed or angry with their choices isn't going to stop them from doing it again. It's just going to make them more sneaky and more angry.

Raising teenagers isn't fun. Their brains aren't fully developed, for goodness sake. They can't seem to appropriately process their own emotions, they blame their parents for everything that goes wrong in their world, and they tend to be disrespectful and angry when things don't go their way. Currently I am legally responsible for six teenagers and that just doesn't seem right. Of course there are two more that are 18 and 19, so we really have 8 teens. Something about that screams "Proper Prior planning prevents pitifully poor performance."



Jill Miller said...

Huuummm, I had a certain teenage son out past his curfew last night also. In the past couple of weeks my churched so called perfect son has had girls come in after curfew and used our van to drive friends around and coming home after curfew every night. I asked my oldest adult son what he would do and he said nothing that he used to stay out after curfew too, but with his own car. The one teenager thats my supposed troubled son always asks if he can stay out later and listens when i say yes or no. My adult says thats because hes a mama's boy what ever that means. Really what is a parent going to do with these teens when they'll do what ever they want no matter what you say.

jen said...

Totally agree. Same experience. The intensity simply made them pull away from me and made me get old. Now, I am closer to my teens and I am celebrating who they are. They will have to make their own choices. This does not mean I don't attempt to monitor them and set guidelines but I cannot be thought police and go crazy.

So wonderful to see that you are having the same experience. Very cool!

marythemom said...

I have adopted teens and a neurotypical bio teen and tween. Since my adopted son is the oldest I find myself chasing, correcting, searching, controlling... with him, because I don't want to set a precedent/example for the younger kids. How do you let one child "get away with" things without giving the other kids the impression that it's OK for them to do it too?!

My oldest is almost 17, has RAD, bipolar disorder, C-PTSD, traits of Borderline and Antisocial Personality disorder, ADD, cerebral dysrhythmia... we adopted him when he was 15. We don't expect him to attach to us, but his sister has and all the kids watch what he does. I don't want them to copy his behavior, but it's exhausting to try to play detective, warden, coach and therapist all the time.

Mary in TX

brenkachicka said...

Just want to say - I love the picture!
My oldest is only eleven, and she is such an amazing, good kid. So I have no idea what you are going through with those teenagers. I have a feeling I will in a few years. My ten year old's gonna be the one sneaking out... Thanks for helping me learn in advance.