by Samantha Straub
Parents often worry that the poor teen behavior we see at home is the same stuff our kids show the world when we’re not around. Generally, however, that’s not the case. They save their ugly for home. On the road (i.e. at school, at friends’ houses, on their teams, at their jobs, etc), teens tend to enact all of the values and lessons they’ve learned from their adults. They say please and thank you–to their teachers. They put their dishes in the sink after dinner–at their friends’ houses. They show up on time and do what’s needed without being asked–at work or in when volunteering. At home, however, a lot of this behavior goes out the window, and it’s easy for parents to worry they are raising a$$h0!es. You’re not. You are raising kids who feel safe enough at home to test some limits and flex their independence, knowing their parents will still love them in the end.
The other day, a friend texted me to say that my own teenager and his friends had supported her child in a way that she really appreciated. “Your boys are fine friends,” she wrote. “You are raising good young men!” My friend’s words made me little teary–in part because they were so kind, but mostly because of the relief I felt when I read them! Turns out my kid can take his show on the road, and the performance seems to get decent reviews. I am so rarely in the audience chairs—I mostly just see the chaotic scramble that happens backstage.
Such is the life of being the parent of a teen. We worry the production we have spent some much time directing is going to get panned. In this world of competitive child-rearing (a topic for another post on another day), I encourage you to tell your mom and dad friends when you’ve seen something positive in their teen. Not only will this kind of feedback bring you and your parent peers closer together, it will help your friends like their children a little more. We all appreciate hearing the good stuff about our kids–especially since we might not be witnessing a lot of it first hand.