Have you ever asked a mom how her tween/teen kid was doing and she answered you with something like, "Please. He's a Slob" or "She's failing two classes and driving me crazy."? Apparently, it is very common for parents of older children to focus on the negative aspects of their behavior or personality, but according to a new book, "The Good Teen," that's a huge mistake.
photo by Amazon
Author Richard M. Lerner writes:
Sometimes I am convinced that many parents do not even have a useful vocabulary to describe teens who aren’t “troubled.” Although we’re comfortable acknowledging academic achievement (usually in the form of school grades), when it comes to other aspects of their lives, we mostly describe “good” kids as either those who have learned to manage or cope with their shortcomings or ones who don’t have problems. That is, we resort to negatives: good kids don’t do drugs, don’t hang out with the wrong crowd, and don’t engage in risky behavior.
Imagine if everywhere you turned people thought poorly of you - if every time you read an article or saw a TV news report about people your age, you realized that no one expected very much of you. Surrounded by these impressions, it wouldn't take long for you to feel burdened by the incessant accusations and suspicions. Some teens become convinced that their parents are just waiting to discover incriminating evidence or are always on the verge of asking invasive and accusatory questions: "Are you smoking cigarettes? Are you smoking dope? Are you having sex?"
My only concern with this criticism is that when a mom is actually in the midst of raising a teen, these questions really do have to be asked. But I suppose it's how they're asked, when, and in what spirit. Like Lerner says, "After all, when people don't expect the best of us, we often respond in kind."
Should parents go easier on teens?