Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Parenting Teens Can Be a (wonderful) Challenge

I know most of my readers are still dealing with the issues of pregnancy, breastfeeding, and the amazing preschool years. I remember thinking how great it would be when my kids got older.We would have such great communication, and so much fun together!

Reality Check!
I do have pretty good communication with my adult daughter and also with my 18 year old son. But it wasn't always that way... When Daughter #1 was about 14, the going got really tough. It stayed tough for several years! She was the epitome of the rebellious preacher's kid! I cried when she graduated from her Christian high school mostly because I was so relieved that she hadn't gotten kicked out!
Son #1 has always been pretty compliant, although he does have a temper. During his high school years we often had to remind him to exercise "Godly self-control." He was wonderful to everybody else, but at home that temper could flare! Now that he's heading to college, though, I realize how much I'll miss him. He helps me out in so many ways. I'm sure I won't really know just how much of a help he is until August when he moves to Cullman!

Reality Check 2
Now Daughter #2 has hit the age where Daughter #1 became increasingly difficult. To make matters worse, Daughter #2 has recently been diagnosed with bi-polar syndrome. It is somewhat better now that she's on medication, but she still has highs and lows, and her mood can shift with no provocation at all. I know all teenage girls are hormonal and get moody, but being bi-polar makes it doubly challenging. When she is at a low point, I know she's hurting, but she lashes out at me with such vehemence that it breaks my heart.
I am slowly learning how to manage this awkward dance that we perform each day. When I need to address clothing, behavior or other issues with her, I wait until she's "up." And I have to do small doses. When we have to enforce consequences for behavior, we try to explain it when she's "up." But of course, the punishment (as she perceives it) sends her right back down. So I feel like I'm living on a roller coaster.
The good news is that she has a wonderful Christian psychiatrist, and next week we'll begin seeing a Christian counselor who will hopefully help us navigate this minefield. She once told me that someday we'd write a book together from both of our perspectives about what it's like being a bi-polar teen and being the mother of a bi-polar teen. We'll see.
I am so thankful that we established a strong bond in her early years. Sometimes I wonder how we'd survive if we didn't have that! It's that attachment that brings us back together when she's "up."

Son #2
Another thing I'm thankful for is the space between our kids. Daughter #1 survived the teen years and is helpful both to me and to her sister. Son #2 is just 10, so we don't have any teen stuff yet! Last night was particularly challenging, and Son #2 came downstairs to where I was sitting on the sofa. He saw my tears and just put his arms around me. I wonder if there is a magic potion that will keep him this sweet for the next 8 years??

1 comment:

  1. Great post Glenni! My boys are 13 and 6 years old and I am so thankful that I started my mothering with attachment parenting. I fall back on our relationship to pull us through our "disagreements". Because we have a good foundation I can ask my son what's going on with him and have him be honest. Sometimes he's just moody or grouchy ( I call it a hormone surge! ;> ) and then there's times when he just needs to cry. It's like that newborn time all over again. You know there's something wrong but you're not sure what it is, but the baby can't verbalize it. Anyway, thanks for reminding us that breastfeeding is only the beginning of a wonderful, blessed relationship!