Flickr photo by SheilaTostesBritain's The Baby Website recently polled its readers about the "worst age" for kids. A couple thousand parents of now-adults voted and decided 14 is the worst age for girls and 15 is the worst age for boys.
What do you think? Is your 14-year-old girl the worst? What about your 15-year-old boy? Or is it just wrong to call any age of a child the "worst"?
The women at Jezebel pointed out this interesting response to the poll, the article "Look again, those teenage demons are lovely" from India Knight, mom of three, two of whom are teenagers, who defends teenagers against the parents who temporarily detest them.
"I'm against the demonisation of teenagers," Knight writes. "It's slightly depressing to find that 14-year-old girls get such a bad rap, even from their own parents."
Of all the teen behaviors abhorred by parents, like turning into adults overnight, becoming private, holing up in their rooms, struggling to cope with school and fit in with friends, worrying about bad skin and weight, and finding it hard to communicate, Knight reminds us that's what teens are supposed to do. "Most teenagers aren't difficult at all. They are pains, which is a different thing. They're just trying stuff out, experimenting, kicking against boundaries in a way that may be exasperating but is hardly much more."
Perhaps parents of teens just take it all too personally. I know I've been known to feel this way when my toddler decks me or tells me he hates me. I often go into a state of "no child of mine!" before remembering it's my job to show him how to interact and express one's feeling correctly.
Knight goes on to say, "Most parents think the emotionally demanding bit of parenting happens around toddlerhood. They're wrong. The early years are a picnic, a walk in the park, a punt downriver on a glorious summer's day, and this realisation comes as the most enormous, sometimes debilitating, shock."
Gulp! My oldest is only 7. Just hearing this does put me into a state of shock.
However, even as an outsider to teenhood, I want to wholly agree with Knight's argument that teenagers will do exactly what their hormone-induced psyches tell them to do and that we need not take it personally. Of course, this is also the time in their lives they need their parents and other supportive adults to help guide them. Even if they're pains, even if they're trying out a whole lot of high-level argumentation and attitude, they're our kids.
Most definitely easier said than done, it only seems right that we step out of ourselves (and oh, the wretched pain of being parent to a teenager) to be the best parents we can be to the lovely young demons.
Of course, if you'd rather just vote about the worst age of your child, Lisa Belkin's taking her own poll over on Motherlode.
What do you think of Knight's argument? Are teenagers awful or are they doing exactly what they're supposed to be doing and parents need to stop interpreting their behavior as something personal?