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!