Teenage drama: Parents, stay calm. It's not about you
Teenage drama – the angst over friends, grades, sports – is not about you, parents. It's OK to sympathize when your teen has a bad day, but ultimately they need parents who stay calm but concerned.
This has been a very interesting week. At least three mothers of teens told me the same story in different words. They are confused because they all have difficulty getting on with their days when their teens are upset.Skip to next paragraph
Jennifer Powell-Lunder (l.) and Barbara Greenberg (r.) are practicing psychologists specializing in adolescent issues. Both have been published widely and appear regularly in the print and broadcast media as teen experts. They blog together at Talking Teenage.
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One mom told me that she is so afraid to look at her daughter's face when she picks her up from school. She is concerned that her daughter will have that upset look on her face that she has come to know. It's usually related to a disappointing grade on a test, not being called on in class, or some other matter of a similar magnitude.
Another mom told the story of dropping off a happy teenage son only to pick up an upset young man from baseball practice. He complained that he was tired and hungry and that he just needed some down time.
The mom that I spoke to today said that she couldn't fall asleep because her 16-year-old daughter was disappointed that she wasn't invited to a party. And on and on the list goes.
These mothers have a tough time figuring out how upset they should be. They wonder if it's OK for them to feel and act OK when their teens are upset. They sometimes feel guilty having fun or even going to an exercise class if their teens are even slightly disappointed.
Well, since you asked, we would like to respond.
Yes, it is not only OK, but it is often necessary for you to present calmly when your teen is upset. Although, they may want you to absorb a bit of their distress, they do not want you to become depressed.
In fact, if you do become too upset when they are upset they may then accuse you of making things about you. We are all allowed to be upset at times. This includes teens.
What they want you to know is this: "Sometimes I just want to be upset mom, OK. Please don't make it about you!"
The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of the best family and parenting bloggers out there. Our contributing and guest bloggers are not employed or directed by the Monitor, and the views expressed are the bloggers' own, as is responsibility for the content of their blogs. Jennifer Powell-Lunder and Barbara Greenberg blogs at Talking Teenage.