“I heard you.”
“I’m not a kid anymore.”
“I hate you.”
Remember this when you can’t believe you’ve raised this mouthy kid. Teens need to have the last word. Even when they don’t mean what they are saying.
Welcome to a part of adolescent development. Yes, this is not a fun part of adolescent development that affects mostly you, the parent.
There is so much change happening to your baby. As much change as when your baby was a baby. For the teen all of this change is full of uncertainty. Even their own bodies are failing them. Their own bodies cannot be trusted.
To have the last word is that teen trying to retain some sort of control in this uncertain world, especially when he/she has disappointed the very person he/she never wants to let down. You are that important to your teen no matter how many “whatevers” you get.
You notice this now, right? You receive these snarky last words when an uncomfortable confrontation is happening. Or when it has become your fault that we are on a worldwide timeout because of COVID19 and you have to say no to something. You get this reaction even when you are not at fault for something. You get this reaction when the world has let them down.
Remember that teens are just beginning to understand their new complex emotions. This important prefrontal cortex of the brain is just beginning to grow. They are emotional creatures as they tell you in every breath that they are grown and can make their own decisions. There is a reason why the laws of the land are made to protect them.
“Whatever” is infuriating to hear. “Whatever” with the hand is even more infuriating. “I hate you” just hurts. But what “I hate you” really means is your teen doesn’t know what to say but they want control somehow. When teens are mad they are not very articulate.
This does not mean you are to allow the disrespectful and dismissive comment. This is your signal to be the adult, be the wiser one, and give both of you some space. Your teen is signaling to you that he/she is hearing you, is feeling discombobulated, and just wants to have that last word so he/she feels in control of something, especially in the vulnerability of failure.
When you want to react, when you are trying to have that last word, notice how you are trying to gain control of your teen because it feels like you have no control over your teen. Your inflamed reaction is because you feel your lack of control.
Breathe. Take that step back. Be the grown-up. Let the hurt roll off of you because you will have the last word because you are the grown-up. It just is not now. It will be at a more teachable time. It will be when your teen is now 24 and begins to understand the decisions you made—and how awful he/she was to you. That day does come!
Meanwhile, lay your hand on the forehead of your teen and pray, “Come, prefrontal cortex, come.”
Also say a prayer of gratefulness for this strength of character that is transforming you.
Meanwhile, we at Bravester are cheering for you.