The only thing tougher than surviving the teenage years is parenting a teen going through them. The drama, the screaming, the “I hate you!” and the moods. It’s enough to make everyone in the house crazy. But the good news is that it is survivable – for everyone.
You say to yourself, “we weren’t that bad.” Yes, you were. Mercifully you have just forgotten - teen amnesia. What is different is that teens today are growing up in an environment that is more dangerous than it was for their parents and grandparents. Access to violent games, music, news and internet predators is a more recent problem. This makes good parenting even more critical for your teen.
Until relatively recently, it was thought that the human brain was mostly developed by the age of five. After all, by age five the brain has reached 95% of its adult size. But thanks to groundbreaking research beginning in the 1990s, we now know there is much more to the story.
Between the ages of 12 and 20 an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex goes through a growth spurt. The prefrontal cortex is where most of our complex thinking occurs. Emotional control, rational thinking and impulse restraint are controlled by this part of the brain. Dr. Karl Pribram at Radford University in Virginia described this part of the brain as “the seat of civilization.”
Also during this time period, substantial growth of another brain structure called the corpus callosum is occurring. This part of the brain is a set of nerves like a super-highway that connects all parts of the brain so they may work more efficiently. This set of nerves is a critical part of intelligence, self-awareness and consciousness.
As these changes are occurring in your teen’s brain, you are probably observing some pretty scary things like:
- Bizarre episodes of temporary teen insanity for which the teen can offer no explanation (They really can’t!)
- Intermittent deafness
- Sudden loss of speech
- Complaining you always treat him like a child as he is playing with his little brother’s Hot Wheels
- A sudden inexplicable change in the desire to do something she has planned on doing for weeks
- Rapid mood swings
- The teen version of a temper tantrum
- The always popular "I hate you" (They really don't).
As a parent you can probably add to this short list. Take heart, parenting a teen is survivable and it can be a rewarding success. If you would like help, emotional support or parenting strategies I can help.
Principle: Hello, how may I help you?
Voice: My daughter won’t be in school today.
Principle: I see. Who is calling please?
Voice: This is my mother.