Have we created a millennial generation of monsters?

tired grumpy MatthewTeenagers are so rude and disrespectful!

The millennials feel they are so entitled!

The eye-rolling is what really gets me!

Every parent must feel like this about the teenager at some point, right? The teen years are certainly a challenging time for parents but should we fear and dread them? Is this phase any worse than say the toddler years?

Should we accept that teenagers are rude, disrespectful, abusive, lazy and objectionable? Is part of being a good parent to fight them and try to beat them into submission?

What is the best way to transform them from an objectionable teenager into a pleasant responsible young adult?

I think the complaint I hear most from parents is that their teens are disrespectful, rude, entitled and just plain horrible. I often hear,” I love my teenager but I really don’t like them.” One of the first posts I read on Facebook this morning was this:

“Since we are the generation that created this millennial generation how are we going to stop the disrespect, the ingratitude, the sass mouth, the eye rolling, the “I know” and the when I tell you to put the phone down put it down now and listen to me? My 18 year old son says that I do the same thing so I’ve tried to be very mindful and pay attention to whether I do it unconsciously. I see him being very snippy and smart mouth to even the store clerks who do not deserve that kind of attitude. I opened the door for a young lady the other day. I didn’t get a hi, bye, kiss my ass, thankyou or otherwise. She had her tight ass yoga pants on and all I could think of for her lack of acknowledgement was that she was trying to get away from a pervert, which I am not, I still believe in chivalry. I think yoga pants on young women should be outlawed. But this is just one ol’ Angry Dad worried about his son’s future.”

So many parents of teenagers could have written this post. I’m sure many of you will resonate with it. So how do we deal with teenagers today? I’m going to suggest a few ideas that may help you:

  1. Is it behaviour that is particular to teenagers? I have definitely seen teenagers that are disrespectful and ungrateful. My own teenagers have sometimes been disrespectful to me. But is it also true that all people can behave this way. I find that when I’m at the Post Office elderly people love to jump the queue and then pretend they didn’t realise there was a queue. Once I was even pushed by an elderly man. I politely point out to them where the queue starts.
  2. Should we accept that the millennial generation has a different attitude to life? It is commonly accepted that teenagers didn’t exist before the 1950s but can you imagine what it was like to be 15 in 1954? I can’t really but I can accept that it was totally different to today. Parents ruled with an iron fist. When I was growing up in the 1970s physical discipline was the way you disciplined a child, even a teenager. That is not acceptable today but what has replaced this discipline? Does that mean they just get away with rudeness and eye rolling? Definitely not! From a young age point out to them and pull them up. Unless you point things out to them they won’t know what is acceptable.
  1. Don’t assume they don’t want to be polite, courteous and pleasant. Like all of us teenagers want to be happy and part of a community. They don’t deliberately become objectionable for fun. It makes them as unhappy as it makes you. The trouble is that can easily become a never ending cycle; your teen is rude, you shout at them, they become even more objectionable. It’s miserable for everyone. You have more emotional maturity than your teen, so take charge and lead by example. Show them how to be mature, polite, courteous and pleasant.
  2. The myth of the appalling teenager. It seems to be part of a cultural myth that teenagers are awful and all parents should dread their child turning 13. I often hear that it’s a part of family life that has to be endured. When I was a classroom teacher I learnt that my students would only ever reach the level I expected of them and no more. So my job was to expect more of them than they expected of themselves. That’s true for all of us. Human nature seems to make us quick to criticise ourselves or to expect less than we are truly capable of. The best thing we can have is a group of cheerleaders that believe in us more than we dare to believe in ourselves. If you expect more and better from your teenager they will gravitate towards that expectation. The opposite is also true.
  3. The 80:20 rule. Having talked above about raising your expectation of your teen do you expect them to achieve 100% of what you ask them all of the time? How much is actually reasonable? Adolescence is a time of learning and therefore getting it wrong sometimes. If you look carefully at your teen perhaps they may be getting more right than you realise? Of course you’ll have your own boundaries and limits. Make these clear to your teen, but secretly let them get away with a little bit (the 20%). That’s all part of what’s important about learning to be independent.
  4. Be careful where you rant. I know it’s important to let off steam but be careful who you do that around. We feel so much more important in our stance when we can find someone who supports our point of view. It vindicates our position whether we’re right or wrong. But it may not be helpful. I challenge my clients all the time by asking them how it helps them to move forward and find a solution to their challenges. A great quote is, “You’ll always find what you’re looking for.” Be careful, and conscious of, what you’re looking for.

fun wormOn my website you’ll see the 3 keys to solving your teenage puzzle. Of course each of you will have your own challenges but if you keep these principles underpinning your relationship you’ll find everything much easier:

  1. Love & Accept Them
  2. Listen to Them
  3. Understand Them

Most of all try to enjoy your relationship with your teenager.

If you’d like more support please contact me on vicki@well-kids.co.uk or join our facebook group.

Vicki x

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