Anyone that has ever been in the presence of a teen for very long knows that one of their favorite words is, “grrrmmm”.
I’m not sure what language it is, but they all seem to know it.
When my sons were young teens many of my cheery attempts to connect and communicate with them were rebuffed by the very limited teen vocabulary. My sunny disposition and expectant, “Hi! How was your day?” often resulted in “mmrrph.” “What did you do?” was met with something akin to a growl.
“Okey-dokey then, I guess I’ll try a different approach,” I remember thinking. Sometimes I responded with my own, “rrrmmmuuumph mrrrmmrrraaa.” Much to his chagrin, this unexpected response often resulted in a smile peeking through the sullen scowl of the annoyed boy creature.
Even my normally joyful and chatty daughter would sometimes turn into a mumbling alien and slink into her room as soon as she walked thorugh the door.
It’s hard not to feel a bit rejected when your eagerness to connect is met with such contempt. But as the mom and dad, pouting and giving up is not an option.
The pop culture tells parents that when children reach their teen years, it’s time for us to “buzz off.” This is a vicious lie.
So with both our teens and society telling us to “just leave them alone”, what is a parent to do?
The comforting news is that it is absolutely normal for your once conversant children to begin to pull away and want to change the way they communicate with you. The reality is that they still need you and still want you – but they don’t know how to let you know that without feeling as if they are being “babies”.
The need for growing independence from mom and dad is the mark of a maturing child. It’s part of the transition from being totally dependent on you to reaching the place where they can leave your home and make their own way in the world. When that time comes, it’s critical that the “young adult” has a solid moral compass and internal road map, and that she knows how to use it. And you are the one, Mom and Dad, that must work hard to help her develop the chart.