Parent Rebellion? (Way too long post)
I just finished reading your book, and not a minute too soon!! My oldest (one of three) turns 14 TODAY!!
Overall this book made me heave a huge sigh of relief. He's a pretty good kid!! He's the classic smart kid, underachiever a "DNAH" Does Not Apply Himself" Not a huge surprise since his mother, me, is a former DNAH[erself].
Our problem . . . one word, DAD. I love my husband (most days) But when it comes to parenting we are often at odds. I watch him with his dad and can see where a lot of this is coming from but have yet to found a really effective way of dealing with it.
Here is my main issues:
The picking on everything (the hair, the messy rooms, the not getting right out of bed in the morning--little stuff, and the total war on grades, homework, sports). I have always been a "pick your battles" kind of girl. If the kid wants to wear rain boots with his bathing suit on a 90 August day. Go ahead but please tell everyone you meet that you dressed yourself.
As my oldest hits the meat of the teens it's become more of an issue for me and my son. Everything is a battle. To me it just seems like it's all about control. I finally gave my permission to my son to tell his Dad when he's being unfair and have told him that I will totally back him up. I think his father can be terribly disrespectful to my son and we had a big to do about it . I told my husband what I was going to do. This came out of one of those "why did you do this?" [insert blank stare from son] DAD ESCALATES TELL ME WHY YOU DID THIS?!? Then giving me all sorts of grief because the boy won't tell him why he did this. I tell him a)I dont' think he knows [I actually knew this before reading your book], b)he's afraid to give an honest answer because his answer is because "you're a jerk". May not be the real reason but that's what he thinks.
Hmmm so now what is my question? . . . What is a good strategy for getting a parent to be more realistic about raising independent teens? We are not pushover parents. WE have very strict rules about TV and Internet use, especially during school days. It's a privelege not a right, etc. But I think it is important that they learn to be independent while still safely in our house. Even though our very bright son has been bringing home c,ds and even fs the last couple of years, he really is a good kid. He has nice friends (not a lot but the ones he has are good kids), he's funny, people like him--even the teachers who could just choke him for not getting in homework, he's respectful to adults (always getting compliments from other parents and people at church), we've caught him looking up "boobs" on google but other than that nothing too horrific. [maybe I should subscribe to National Geographic?]
My latest ploy, is I've told my husband that all I want for my birthday is for him to read your book but he's already defensive because he knows that I feel he's a large part of the problem in our house. Our kids fear him. He doesn't hit but he's so negative and so picky about everything they just feel cornered. He comes home and they literally scatter. Wherever he is in the house they are as far away as they can get. On weekends they almost always go to friends or outside. If I'm here alone everyone is here. This also doesn't help because then my husbands sees it as a us against him thing but I'm just more realistic, and easygoing but I'm not a "buddy" to my kids. I yell at all the kids in my house equally. Take of your shoes, wash your hands, flush toilet (by the way when do they spontaneously remember to flush the toilet on a regular basis?).
I'm by no means a perfect parent and have let some of those lovely "I'm going to drag you by your hair" phrases slip past my lips, but I think I'm pretty aware of some of the undercurrents and honestly remember some of what if felt like to be there myself. I do worry about his grades, especially with high school looming large. We live in a community with a hugely inflated culture of overachievement and I worry about him being put in with kids who are not his peers because of his lack of achievement in school.
We are working to make it better but I"m also trying very hard not to focus on the letter grade but more on him taking responsibility and making the right choices for him.
Anyone have words of wisdom?
You and hubby need to quickly get on the same parenting page or your teen will divide and conquer you both in short order. Tell your husband this and then ask that he read the book, and then that you both go out for coffee to talk things over. BE SURE TO TELL HIM THAT YOU KNOW THAT HE LOVES THE CHILDREN AS MUCH AS YOU, that he would gladly take a bullet for them, and that is why he fights with them as he does. But tell him that an ex-combat arms Army officer wrote this book using at least as much as he learned from the military as he did from his doctoral training. See if that hooks him.
Dr. Mike Bradley
When I read your post I felt like I could have written it myself. We have a very similar situation in our home. You were really articulate about it. I have tried to explain it to people and have not done as good a job. I feel like I have an innate understanding of what will irritate my 14 year old son, and my husband is oblivious. My husband also wishes our son was more like him, that is, into HIS music, into HIS sports, etc. My son is an excellent football player, but not all that interested in watching. This drives my husband crazy, as does the fact that it takes 10 tries to get the kid out of bed in the a.m. (not at all unusual among teens), that he "mumbles" in the morning over breakfast, etc. etc. Anyhow I will say that Dr. Bradley's book helped my husband alot. In fact he read it first and is urging me to read it. I've read about 100 pages, and if anything, I'm the one who feels some questions are left unanswered, but that's another story. As for my husband's approach to dealing w/our teen, it has improved quite a lot. Our son , for the first time ever, sort of "ran away" after a fight last weekend. It lasted all of 5 minutes, but because my husband had read the book we were able to cope with it, and I think respond to it, better than had we not. So yes, please have your husband read the book. I think he'll get something out of it.