I have a confession to make. I don't like this age. The struggle to independence is heightened to extremes when dealing with mastery and control issues.
Toni mentioned wanting to know more about mastery and control. Here's what I understand of it.
Adoptees have not had control over their lives. They had decisions made for them from the earliest days of their lives and there is a lot of anger and frustration over that. it isn't articulated as such, and possibly not even recognized as that in adults, but it certainly is subconscious in children who can't articulate their feelings.
If as a small person, I had never been allowed to make any choices -- if things were decided for me and I was moved from place to place -- or if strangers were the ones to conclude that I should be given a new sense of parents -- then once I land in an adoptive home I'm probably not going to be all that cooperative. If in my birth family I had never been told what to do and suddenly I was in an adoptive family with a list of rules, I might not be all that cooperative.
So all this can be described as ODD. The behavior screams, "This is MY life and you can't tell me what to do. I am in charge of me!!!"
If you think about it it requires amazing strength to be completely oppositional -- especially if you have parents who are pushy and demanding and win at all costs (pointing finger at me). It's pretty difficult to stand your ground under those circumstances.
As I mentioned before, if a kid grabs on to mastery and control and is determined to prove that they are in charge of their lives and choose to have a good life for themselves, you end up raising a child like Kyle who, though challenging as a teenager, is now a married, college-educated teacher who has the things he has always wanted to be able to buy for himself (though he will tell you that he hasn't got enough money to buy EVERYTHING he wants ;-)
If you have a child who has issues with mastery and control who is not motivated to succeed you have (fill in the blank with four or five of my kids). They prove their independence from their parents by doing things like skipping school, getting or getting someone else pregnant, moving out before they should, failing classes on purpose, etc. In the end they win the battle of proving they are in charge, but they lose the war ...
Sitting back knowing a kid is on that path is very hard for me. Teenagers assume that they know more than their parents anyway, but to have teenagers with mastery and control issues makes the battle all the more crazy. The kids are convinced somehow that they can make it in life without a good job, an education, or any money. And they tend to surround themselves with people who enable them to do so.
Wrestling season ended on Saturday -- I know, I promised pictures, you'll get them ;-) It was my concern that Ricardo would stop going to school once wrestling was over. He was absent all day yesterday. It could be coincidental --- he could be sick but since he doesn't speak to us, i wouldn't know. But it could very well be that he is done with school -- even though he can't read. So he is going to prove to me that I was wrong -- he doesn't have to have a job or go to school. really?
If you are reading frustration between my lines it is because I am very frustrated. I have one 18 year old who moved out in a huff and has people enabling him to live without responsibility and paying all his bills. I have a 17 year old daughter who has told me that I'm the stupid one if I think that anything I do can MAKE her do homework. That she doesn't care about school and she isn't going to do anything. And she didn't come home last night. And I have another 17 year old who is deciding he doesn't have to get up this morning.
I dream of a day when everyone is beyond this annoying age and I don't have to have the internal battles. I've finally gotten to the point that I have minimized most of the external ones because they don't help matters, but I stew inside like nobody's business.
And yes, if you're wondering, I have mastery and control issues now I think -- because I didn't choose to have bad things happen to my kids either. I just took over parenting them after the damage was done and have done my very best to turn a tide that may have been unturnable -- at least with the resources we had back then.
Yesterday a friend and I had lunch and she said, "So, where would the kids be if you hadn't adopted them?" And I said, "I don't know... maybe in jail? Or raising kids as teenagers? Or skipping class? Failing school?"
I know, sarcasm is unbecoming.
SOrry for hte negative venting post. I try not to do that any more, but some days....