When the Truth Hurts…Your Kids

I wondered to myself this morning if I’m the only mom I know who calls my kids out on their…well, you know…”stuff.”  When my teen or pre-teen daughters are being hard-headed or rude or just plain dumb about something, more often than not I call them out on it.  When they were younger and acted out, I used those times as teaching moments to explain how we should treat others, how we should behave in certain situations, and how to keep tempers and frustrations under control.  But now that they’re older, I don’t know, it just seems more logical to treat them like people and flat-out tell them, “Hey, you’re wrong here.  Straighten up.”

My 11yo daughter has always been a very tender soul, incredibly loving and probably the most open to sensing others’ feelings and discerning promptings from the Spirit.  In the last few months, though – especially since starting junior high – she’s gotten catty and rude and pretty downright snotty.  She’s often unpleasant to be around; everything is accentuated with a “huff” and either a roll of the eyes or a slump of the shoulders.  You can keep all your “that’s totally normal for her age“s to yourself – yes, I KNOW that’s normal for her age, but it’s still not appropriate.  I’m stubborn in my belief that what seems inevitable is still not excusable, and so pre-teen hormones or not, I’m letting my daughter know that her behavior is just not ok.

This morning she took yet another opportunity to talk down to her brother and make him feel terrible (she knows just how to get to him), and I had just had it.  I took the chance to sit alone with her out in the car and give her a piece of my mind – explaining (of course!) that I was not trying to be mean or pick on her or make her feel bad, but that her constantly sour attitude is clouding over our home and the relationships she has with all of us.  The thing is, I KNOW she struggles with it and I KNOW it makes her feel bad to be so mean (I can see it in her), but I told her that this is something she needs to work on, to make better.

We didn’t have much time to talk since they needed to get to school, and as she got out of the car she barely said a word to me.  She seemed more sad than mad, and I wondered if I had been too hard on her.  I feel sad thinking that her feelings are hurt, and that I won’t have another chance to talk to her until after school.  But we will talk again, so I can clarify myself and so I can give her a chance to talk, too.  I realize that what I’m asking her to do is take all of her jumbled hormonal emotions and make sense of them and behave appropriately, and I realize that an 11yo isn’t going to quite know how to do that.  We need to talk so I can help her sort things out, but I still feel like a dose of reality was in order.

What about you?  Do you ever find yourself needing to just “level” with your kids?  Is it hard?  Does it help?  I’m really curious to know how moms of others teens/pre-teens figure all this out!

  • I am glad to hear I am not the only one laying it out. I am like you: if my teens are out of line, I tell them so. I am not afraid to say, ‘I really wish you would talk to me nicely when you need to address an issue’ or ‘your brother deserves to be treated kindly.’
    They need to understand when they are out of line and what impact their attitudes have. I respect the young women/men they are becoming enough to treat them as I would my adult friends.
    I, too, struggle with timing and trying not to hurt tender feelings. But at the end of the day, the best friends I have are not afraid to call me out when I am being out of line… so shouldn’t I offer them the same courtesy?

  • I am glad to hear I am not the only one laying it out. I am like you: if my teens are out of line, I tell them so. I am not afraid to say, ‘I really wish you would talk to me nicely when you need to address an issue’ or ‘your brother deserves to be treated kindly.’
    They need to understand when they are out of line and what impact their attitudes have. I respect the young women/men they are becoming enough to treat them as I would my adult friends.
    I, too, struggle with timing and trying not to hurt tender feelings. But at the end of the day, the best friends I have are not afraid to call me out when I am being out of line… so shouldn’t I offer them the same courtesy?

  • I love this post and I love that you “parent” your kids … They will all be better for it. Sending you good vibes for your after school time with her 🙂

  • I love this post and I love that you “parent” your kids … They will all be better for it. Sending you good vibes for your after school time with her 🙂

  • Amy Christensen

    I don’t have any advice for you, obviously, but I just wanted to know if I could call you when my kids are teenagers and if you would help me know what to do! You seem like you have it firgured out pretty well and I totally admire your parenting style!

  • Amy Christensen

    I don’t have any advice for you, obviously, but I just wanted to know if I could call you when my kids are teenagers and if you would help me know what to do! You seem like you have it firgured out pretty well and I totally admire your parenting style!

  • LCM

    My Buttercup is working her way up to this level. I have explained to her that things are going to get tougher as she gets older and I am just not going to deal with the attitude. My biggest problem has to be TD. He had a really awful childhood and his main concern has always been their self esteem and making sure they feel loved. This turns Mom into the wicked witch of the west and TD doesn’t always realize that Buttercup processes this as that. I think that it’s great that you took some alone time with her so that she didn’t totally feel on the spot. I worry about walking a fine line between alienating her and making sure she knows I am the mom and the one in charge.

  • LCM

    My Buttercup is working her way up to this level. I have explained to her that things are going to get tougher as she gets older and I am just not going to deal with the attitude. My biggest problem has to be TD. He had a really awful childhood and his main concern has always been their self esteem and making sure they feel loved. This turns Mom into the wicked witch of the west and TD doesn’t always realize that Buttercup processes this as that. I think that it’s great that you took some alone time with her so that she didn’t totally feel on the spot. I worry about walking a fine line between alienating her and making sure she knows I am the mom and the one in charge.

  • Liz

    I really felt for both of you in this post. I completely agree with your approach and hope I can be so calm and level-headed about this if/when my daughter is like this. I was (and still am) a lot like your daughter. I *know* when I’m being hurtful sometimes, but it’s very hard for me to stop myself. Once someone calls me on it, I feel terrible. I hope you two get the chance to talk more about this and I look forward to reading about it.

  • Liz

    I really felt for both of you in this post. I completely agree with your approach and hope I can be so calm and level-headed about this if/when my daughter is like this. I was (and still am) a lot like your daughter. I *know* when I’m being hurtful sometimes, but it’s very hard for me to stop myself. Once someone calls me on it, I feel terrible. I hope you two get the chance to talk more about this and I look forward to reading about it.