When A Teenager Says, I Hate My Mom!
Those Unexplainable Teenage Years
Children grow up so fast that sometimes parents tend to forget that their babies are already teenagers. These growing years are crucial moments when children undergo physical, mental, and social development. Parents may suddenly realize these changes when their children communicate their thoughts differently from how they used to.
Understanding the changes that children undergo as they reach their teens makes it easier for parents to nurture good relationships and avoid communication gaps. It is during the teenage years that a child goes through important transitions as the individual begins to transition from childhood to adulthood. From 11 to 19 years old, children start to hone their values and define themselves without necessarily thinking about the opinions of others.
During this stage, children give importance to identity and self. This is the reason why oftentimes teenagers insist on what they believe to be right even if it goes against what their parents have taught them. What matters to them is that these convictions are their own which define who they want to be. Parents, who were once teenagers themselves, often forget that they have undergone the same stage. Not fully understanding teenage behavior will only result in stereotyping them as rebellious, moody, and irrational.
Livescience.com explains that aside from the physical development of a teenager, the brain develops astoundingly which contributes to behavioral changes in teens. It is during adolescence that the brain’s most dramatic growth occurs which results in a growth spurt of new cognitive skills. In addition, neuronal sprouting happens right before puberty and peaks at about age 11 to 12. Aside from these changes, teenagers also face intense emotions because of puberty and they also have to cope with peer pressure.
Parents have to understand that teenagers deal with these huge changes in social, emotional, and cognitive skills and that teens may have difficulty in dealing with it. However, given the right direction and guidance, children can be led along the right path. This can be achieved if parents keep calm, listen, and maintain being good role models for their children.
The McKay School of Education reminds parents that most adolescents have moments of hate and anger directed at parents. The phrase, “i hate my mom”, is so common and it is most likely because teenagers feel that they are restricted from finding their own identity. In his book, The Power of Positive Parenting: A Wonderful Way to Raise Children (1994), Dr. Glenn Latham invites parents to look back at their own adolescent years so that they may fully understand life and parenthood. Latham (1994) further said that by reflecting on their own childhood, a parent will be reminded that a child’s reasons for hating his or her parents are probably as meaningless as theirs were years ago with their own parents.
There are instances when teenagers appear to be sweet, responsible, and obedient; all of which a parent would long to see in their children. However, just as quickly as the teenager exhibits this behavior, they suddenly change to become very emotional, angry, and shut themselves in their own world.
Dr. Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist, describes that adolescence is about separating and individuating. Simply put, individuation is the process of creating self-identity and independence while separation is when children slowly detach their dependence on their parents. This is further experienced when there is strong peer pressure pushing a child to seek belongingness to a group. Teenagers tend to reject their parents in order to find their own identities and they focus on their friends more than on their families. Dr. Kaslow assures parents that this situation is normal at this stage.
A study done by researchers from Brigham Young University (BYU), states that parents are always teaching their children. It also mentions that parents should teach teenagers how to respond to anger from others. The study also emphasizes that remaining calm is a key factor and it is important to be in control and respond appropriately.
When Parents Don’t Become Role Models
One way for parents to have a successful relationship with their teenagers is by being a role model. The story becomes different when teenagers breed anger towards their parents because of legitimate reasons. Stories of teenagers rebelling against their parents are not new. Sometimes, parents disregard this behavior simply because they are teenagers and it is expected. However, there are instances when the parents themselves are the reasons why teenagers resort to this behavior.
A family becomes dysfunctional especially when the parents, the foundation of the home, are afflicted by alcohol and/or substance addiction or abuse. These are the common causes of broken families and problematic children. Dr. Charles Whitfield, in his book, Healing the Child Within, defines a dysfunctional family as one that is affected by mental illness, trauma from tragedy, or simply headed by individuals with very poor parenting skills.
Oftentimes, teenagers in dysfunctional families result in developing mental disorders. Teenagers in dysfunctional families also incur fear, confusion, and unhappiness from family wounding. This situation often results in unhealthful or aggressive behavior and some teenagers may not perform well academically.
Depression and anxiety are the most common mental disorders that children in dysfunctional families acquire. Teenagers may escape these problems by resorting to drugs and alcohol or by engaging in dangerous, wild activities. If this behavior is not addressed, it may lead to other illnesses that are even more serious.
Child psychiatrist Joseph Biederman identified bipolar disorder and other mood and personality disorders as the common effects of dysfunctional families with adolescents and children. According to Biederman, interactions in dysfunctional families create and maintain certain behavioral problems in children.
Dr. David M. Allen discussed in his book, How Dysfunctional Families Spur Mental Disorders, that treating child mental disorders with medicine is not enough to solve the problem. He stated that giving medicine is just a quick fix to the problem, not the solution. He suggests a holistic approach starting with fixing the causes that make the family dysfunctional. He also suggest treating the family as a system which involves all members making a contribution to resolve the problem.
Saying Things Right
Hearing a child say, “i hate mom”, directly or through others flashes a warning sign that there might be something wrong. If it is during the early adolescence stage that children tend to shut their world and say things like, “i hate my mom and dad”, then it is important that parents pay more attention to small signs that say that something might be wrong.
One of the easiest ways to determine lapses with teenagers is through communication. According to the Victorian Department of Human Services (VDHS, 2013), good communication is essential for strong relationships between parents and teenagers. A teenager may manifest feelings of isolation, rejection, or apathy if there are communication blocks that hinder smooth communication between the teenager and his or her parents.
Finding ways to get teenagers to talk with their parents is perhaps a difficult task, but once a teenager opens up to them, a nurturing relationship will be built. This communication will prevent having problematic teens who may just be trying to find their identities but do it haphazardly because they do not have their parents to guide them. Parents must remember that it is more important to listen to what their children have to say so that parents can give better advice.
Listening, Not Just Hearing
In communication, listening is as important as speaking. VDHS points out that improved communication starts with teenagers and their parents using better listening skills. To do this effectively, a parent must become an active listener. To do active listening, parents must try to understand what their teenagers are trying to say. While doing so, parents should also try to feel what their teenagers are feeling. Instead of thinking about what to say next or what parents want to say, to be an active listener, parents must try to understand what their children really mean.
Below are tips on how to actively listen:
Pay attention – Stop what you are doing and give your full attention to your child. Remember to maintain eye contact and show that you are relaxed.
Encourage your child to talk – This is simply prodding your child to go on ahead and say what he or she wants to say by making nodding gestures or saying, yes or uh-ha.
Reflect what your child said – Think about what your child really wants to say by being sensitive to his or her feelings that go along with what is being said.
Check your accuracy – Verify whether you have understood your child by repeating what you think was said and then asking if you are correct. Ask more questions if you did not understand everything clearly.
As a parent, it is vital to understand what teenagers are going through and why they are going through such things. The only way to clearly understand is through listening and then stating ideas in a calm way. Being aggressive and hostile towards a child will only make matters worse and may push the child further to isolation.
The next time when a teenager says, “i hate my mom”, it is probably simply because the child needs a little more attention. Dr. Latham reminds parents that this stage in their child’s life will pass and that everything will be alright. Parents just have to make sure that they deal with these situations with an understanding heart and remain positive towards what the future holds for their children.