When my son was a teenager, he could really push my buttons – I am pretty sure he still can, but it is not as likely to occur since he is in his twenties and living in his own house. I wondered, “Is this a stage he is going through? How did he learn to do this? Why does he have to be correct at everything I say?! How can I make it stop?” I like to embellish for effect – part of being a former English teacher and part of my personality – but there is no embellishment here. I would get angry, and it would be about stupid, little things: C’mon, buddy, we have to get to practice; it’s 4:00. “It’s 4:01.” UGH!
Teens always need to be correct…always. It is hard for the adult (me) to be curious when the teenager is living in a life and death battle like a gladiator. I am just wanting to have a conversation; I am trying to be curious, to understand. But the teen feels like he must fight to survive, to protect his identity, to define himself, to be heard…to win. This is especially true when it has to do with parents, often with teachers (those that just don’t get him), and with other adults. Most teens say that they can never win.
Honestly, this is quite often true. Not because the teen is wrong, but because the topics on which the fights are occurring are not problems needing to be solved. They are topics (like organization) needing to be figured out (for example, not all adults organize their lives in the same way, but they have figured out what works for their success, or they have learned to work with other adults on which they can depend for their organization). In the middle-school years, we are helping to develop the teen’s knowledge and skills for adulthood, not in how to be right, how to win.
So teens sometimes give up, which can create a growing sense of self doubt or resentment: not good. Or, sometimes they argue and correct us on everything, hoping to win at something: also not really a desirable choice. So, let them win. Give them as many wins as possible – what did I care that it was 4:01 and not 4:00? I just needed us to get out the door. When teens do not have to fight quite so hard to win something, they will stop fighting so hard. When that happens, everyone can win.
A final note, always plugging that SMS is great when we collaborate with parents: at 2:35 in the clip from Gladiator (2000), he says, “...we have a better chance of survival if we work together: we stay together, we survive.” Parents, let us always work together since your child will always be fighting to win. Let us not fight but instead always collaborate until that final graduation ceremony when you can look back to the middle school years, having made it, with new possibilities ahead, including maybe being able to be right once again, at least maybe a time or two.
Weeks at a Glance
- Monday, November 7: Winter Sports Meetings (7 - 12) 6:00 pm @ MS & HS
- Friday, November 11: Veterans Day Celebration - early release schedule for program