When were parents given the Divine Right to insult their children?

I am 18, living at home with my parents and jobless currently due to finishing college and awaiting my results so I can move forward.

I am not a perfect daughter, I am well aware.  I am lazy, I don’t like housework, I get grouchy when criticised and I’d rather be on my laptop then in a room where my brother is watching kids TV, my sister is babbling about getting her hair cut and my parents are busy.

However…one thing that makes me the worst version of myself in the entire world…is my parents insulting me without restraint, and my sister will even join in occasionally.

Today my mum called me a ‘Lazy arsehole’, ‘a slob’ and a ‘festering human being’.  In a way, I can understand her frustration.  I got up late, I hadn’t done the dishes, and I wasn’t even dressed.  Fair enough.  Yet, as soon as you insult a teenager, degrade them with words, verbally attack them, follow them around while shouting even when they’re doing what you wanted them to do, or talk to them sarcastically…you have a reluctant teenager who doesn’t even want to lift a finger for you.

Shouting, insulting and screaming at your teenager doesn’t teach them to be better people.  It teaches them all the ways to resent you, and make them do their chores so that you don’t verbally attack them, shout and scream again. They will feel hard done to, disrespected and an isolated member of the family if they feel like you are attacking them.

I don’t even like being in the same room as my parents anymore, because if I say or do something they dislike they won’t talk to me…they’ll shout at me as if I’m stupid, and then lecture me about how they are justified in their shouting.  I repeat: shouting doesn’t teach anything.  It teaches the teenager all the ways to resent you. 

If your teenager feels like you are only going to criticise them, they will stop talking to you, sharing things with you, and will prefer to spend time away from you.  If they act grouchy with you, or touchy and reluctant to do anything you say, reflect on why.  If they don’t want to say, it may be that you have upset them and they think that you don’t value their opinion.

Respect is a two way street.  If parents expect respect, respect the teenager, or else they won’t think there is a valuable reason for them to respect you.  So simple things like invading their privacy, going into their room without knocking and interrogating them…just don’t.  You wouldn’t like it if they did that to you, so don’t do it to them.  Simple.

I’ve tried countless times to seep back into my parents ‘good book’ so to speak, because I’m tired of feeling like the black sheep. I try to keep them in the loop, talk to them, explain myself to them and suggest things to do with them…and they always shout at me, or tell me I’m always grumpy and ask if I want something.

Don’t act suspicious about your child unless you are concerned.  If you are suspicious they’ll feel like you don’t trust them, and will automatically not want to share anything with you at all.

You can’t expect everything and not give them anything back, even if you have brought them into this world, paid for their phone and so on.  Everyone likes to feel appreciated, so every now and then, why not do something they like?  Small things like recording their favourite show, suggesting a shopping trip or buying them their favourite sweet.  If they don’t feel appreciated for doing all their chores, doing their homework, getting good grades etc, then what is the point? Yes, they should be doing those things anyway in your books, but it’s stressful as a teenager, and the occasional ‘How was your day?’ would be appreciated.  Or allowing them some chill time after college to go on their phone, instead of expecting them to be doing the dishes and for the house to be spotless as soon as you come home.

Another thing…don’t forget that as a parent you have to pull your finger out and do things too.  Yes, again, we teenagers understand you go to work, get tired, and want a nice clean house to come home to…but! Why should they do it if you don’t?  You live in the house too, and as a family you all contribute to any mess there may be.  So we teenagers expect you to look after the house too, or we really do feel like Cinderella, or maids.

I understand I am ‘only’ a teenager, and may not understand everything about being a grown up, but as a person I know how I would like to be treated.  Just because you are a parent doesn’t mean you are entitled to be a knob.  You have to listen, be patient, understanding and capable of compromise.  In a lot of ways, it is a relationship.  It is really that simple.  When you divide everything up into what they really are, you begin to realise that things need work. Everything does.

Also, if your teenager gives you attitude, it may be because you are.  Re-evaluate your own tone, and maybe you’ll learn something. If you are a parent reading this in the hunt for information about why your teen is grouchy, full of attitude or unwilling to do anything…this might help you.

I am not perfect, as I have mentioned before, and I know I should do more around the house. However…it’s a two way street.  There are reasons I am reluctant to do more, and I have explained them.

I currently have to do more so my boyfriend can sleep over, and that…again…will piss off a teenager if they feel like you as a parent don’t do enough, or that you are punishing them, and that you don’t respect their feelings…However I intend to set a good example so that my parents realise they should do more, otherwise I am just a maid.

So remember: Be a decent human being, respect is a two way street, you have to work too, listen, and avoid shouting and screaming insults at them.  You might just get a good reaction, because believe it or not, some teenagers want a good relationship with their parents.

Bye for now,

Ulalume Poe

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