Does your teen argue with you about everything? Do they debate the smallest rules and requests? Take heart. According to a new study, that means he or she is more likely to be able to resist peer pressure. You can read about it here.
This confirms one of my deeply held beliefs. I firmly believe that, just as the seed has everything in it that will need to grow into a healthy plant, children and adolescents have what it takes to grow into healthy adults IF WE DON'T MESS IT UP.
Adolescence is an important and painful part of that process--and it's painful for both parent and child. But this study confirms my belief that the very messy, painful process is part of what makes it happen--a necessary ingredient, not just an unpleasant side effect. A butterfly who doesn't have to fight it's way out of the chrysalis has stunted, weak wings and cannot fly. You can only get teeth by cutting them. Growing pains accompany the inevitable lengthening of limbs. Unfortunately, the growing part of adolescence requires pain for both the grower and the close observer. Your teen is the tooth being cut, you are the gum.
This study suggests that the clashes we have with our kids are also part of that dynamic. That it is the very clashes we lament that make our children stronger for facing the outside world.
Now, I do note that this study was about teens who argue with their mom. Teens who argue with their dads are just nasty, ungrateful, ill-mannered louts who should be spanked soundly and sent to their rooms until they are 21.
I add what I think is an important caveat to this: in my opinion, this does not mean that we just blithely tolerate disrespect. Arguing is part of the natural process of growing up--and this article suggest it is not only natural, but healthy. But another part of growing up is learning to moderate your emotions, modulate your tone, and communicate in constructive ways. My own bias is that a teen ought to be able to talk about anything with his or her parents, to say anything they want--but that it needs to be in a respectful tone, in a discussion, not a tantrum. To allow anything else is one of the ways we mess our kids up, I believe.
I am also firmly of the opinion that once the teen has been fairly heard, the parent makes the final decision--and everyone abides by that decision. It seems to me that these two important caveats better position the teen for future success in life.
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Thoughts about raising and teaching adolescents. You can read the complete series here. (What in the world are Middle School Mondays?) Click here.
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