“Oh, mom, you’re very heavy”, “you’re exaggerated and controlling”… Do these phrases sound familiar to you? Has your teenage son ever said them to you?
If so, calm down. Although they are phrases that bother us , it is normal for our children to have a period where they say them more frequently; they are no longer so young, they have changed and are in a revolutionary stage. Don’t take it personally, or in a strict sense; surely they say it without thinking.
How to manage these comments, understanding our son, but without allowing them to disrespect us? To what extent should these criticisms be tolerated and what is behind these behaviors?
My teenage son constantly criticizes me
Do you feel that your child criticizes everything you do? A hint of error, and criticism or mockery follows. But why do they do it? How does adolescence influence all of this?
Adolescence: a reactive stage
Teenagers are making an adaptation to the world that makes them seek their independence while being reactive to everything, and parents, being in their closest environment, are the first to suffer the consequences of that reactivity.
In addition, due to their immaturity, or their low tolerance for frustration, they can respond in an uncontrolled way when, for example, you put some kind of limit on them or when you say something they do not agree with.
But what else is behind these comments? Beyond the physical and hormonal revolution typical of adolescence, which we all know, on a psychological level things also happen at this stage that may help us understand why we are the easy target of our children with their criticism.
Calming Effect: Parents Have Flaws Too
On the one hand, they find it reassuring to see that their parents aren’t perfect either (thankfully), and that they have flaws. In a way, they need to prove that adults also have flaws , just like them.
And it is that, due to the stage in which they are, they are increasingly aware of themselves, their changes and their difficulties. This causes them anguish and confusion, and therefore, realizing that their parents are not perfect can relieve them (although that relief translates into phrases like “how heavy you are, mom”).
Deidealization of parents
On the other hand, within the maturation process in which your adolescent son finds himself, he needs to de-idealize his parents and learn to love them for who they are, neither more nor less.
This can lead them to be ashamed of you , or not want the same physical contact with you as before, for example. Fortunately, the result of this deidealization of parents, who until “two days ago” were beings of light and perfect according to their vision, results in a much more open, honest and real relationship between parents and children.
To what extent to tolerate this criticism and how to deal with it?
It is normal that these criticisms of our adolescent children hurt or annoy us, although we understand the vital stage in which our children are. But to what extent should we tolerate them?
It is important not to allow this to become a habit, and also to prevent these types of comments from becoming normalized . We must not allow insolent or disrespectful comments. But how to act?
When they are in a state of intense anger or rage, and they drop some of these pearls on us, it may not be the time to “get into the rag”, but to let them know that that comment is not right and that it has hurt us. We can leave the conversation for later , when they are calmer, but don’t make the mistake of “letting it all go.”
We must seek balance, understanding their life stage and putting ourselves in their place, but being firm in pointing out that these comments are not appropriate or make us feel bad.
Don’t take it personally
On the other hand, try not to take it personally, or take it literally. Of course these phrases can bother you, but think about it; do you really think they think them? Probably not.
It is not something against you, it is the result of his stage and what we have been seeing throughout the article; need for deidealization of parents , recognizing that we are not perfect, etc. So try not to take it personally.
Humor can be a good ally in situations that, a priori, we take in a slightly dramatic way. Try to turn their comments around, laugh with them (as long as they are not excessive or disrespectful, of course), play down the situation with them , tell them an anecdote with your parents about when you were their age…
The idea is to convey the following idea to them; that you know they don’t really think about it, and that you can take it with humor.
Do not think that your task as a father / mother is finished
And finally, even if you feel that your teenagers are bothered by everything you do or say, don’t think that your parenting is over. In fact, it is surely when they need you the most; At this stage, even if you have the feeling that little can be done, there is still a long way to go in parenting with your children.
Arm yourself with patience, relativize the comments and remember when you were their age . And above all, remember that your children still need you; help them find their own resources to understand what is happening to them and to act more respectfully and less impulsively with you.
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