19 September 2007


So ever since I was in second grade and we read a book called Gigi, by Elizabeth Foster, I've been determined not to let myself make a stereotypical change from child to adult. On many accounts, I've succeeded.

One stereotype for teenagers is that they're dramatic and can't get along with their parents. Even back then, I had begun to realize that this isn't just a result of rampaging teenage hormones. True, I'm more easily annoyed that I used to be. This is mostly because of the realization that everyone has flaws; it's quite upsetting. Most likely, people go through this phase and then overcome it, however, as someone experiencing it, I think I prefer to have higher standards for the people around me.

This may sound arrogant, but I hold myself to the same standards as everyone else. I'm not denying that some of my frustration is irrational, because about 40% of it is. And if I think it's 40%, it's probably at least 50%. Rather, I'm arguing that my frustrations are valid, even if I am a teenager.

One major difference in parent-child interaction at this age is that the child is no longer dependent on the parent. In some cases, the child wants separation, and in others, the parents give it. As children, many of us are coddled. This has to stop at some point if the child hopes to be successful on his/her own, but there is not always a gradual shift from dependent to independent. Instead, at least in my case, there seems to be an abrupt change.

Parents eventually stop playing games and overseeing everything involving you. In my case, the problem is that they also withdraw emotionally. When I'm upset, they don't bother asking why... or they accept a clearly false 'fine' and drop it. I don't know what goes on in their minds, but it appears as if they assume I'm upset over something petty. This, of course, does not happen 100% of the time, but it happens enough that it's uncomfortable.

For example, I got upset when my little sister got shotgun today. I wasn't just upset because of something as trivial as a seat. I had a much deeper, more extensive complaint, and this just pushed it a little to far. When I got home, my dad stated that my sister "got shotgun" so I was "pissed." In that brief sentence, he made it seem like I was being petty.

I don't expect them to read my mind, because that's unrealistic. It wouldn't have hurt him to ask why I was so angry. What is it about getting older that makes people think you stop needing to explain your emotions?

Yes. Sometimes, you have to assert them if you want anything to change. But as the child, who's always been catered to by the parents, it seems illogical to have to ask them to ask me what's wrong, when they've always been quick to do so in the past. It's perfectly understandable that they have to stop catering, but that doesn't mean they should withdraw completely.

At what point do we stop communicating? When does the parent make "How was your day?" the opening for at least 50% of conversations with their child? When does the child feel so overwhelmed by these changes in dependence that he/she gets angry at random injustices, or chooses to lash out at anything by causing his/herself undue stress?

It's a difficult transition. As of yet, I'm not willing to give up on any of my expectations for anyone because I vowed not to become an adult who gave up the ability to look at things with the same perception I had as a child. Even though some there are some changes I cannot control, I still remember being determined to remember all of the magic and goodness I saw back then. Though I dislike it, I assume the three of us work out our differences and compromise.

In the interval, however, we suffer.

Both the parents and the child are responsible for this tension, and it's unfair to simply blame the child. Yeah, yeah, life's unfair. But is that any reason to overlook injustice when we see it?

Posted by the bright one @ 7:42 PM

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Indeed, the bright one you are!

My oldest wishes I'd stop asking about anything; he'll be 30 in April. His younger brother will be 29 the same month; he doesn't mind me asking but will probably tell me whatever I'd like to hear to keep the conversation short. His life is constant multi-tasking so I'm a distraction.

Meanwhile, I keep worrying about whether they are OK or not...

Which probably means it's me that isn't!

Still, I've missed you these last (very long) months when you were "caught up in whirl" of life, and hoped it was being kind to you!

I know you did some fantastic things last year (mock trial) and hope you had a wonderful summer. May the year beginning bring you challenges and fun in proportion!


Posted by Blogger alan @ 3:11 AM #

It's nearly as confusing being an adult as it is being a teenager. When the adult asks, "How are things?" and is met with a grumpy "fine", does one pursue the matter at the risk of being pushy and intrusive (after all, privacy is at a premium with teenagers) or do you let it drop? It's hard to get it just right.

The good news is that in the normal slightly dysfunctional family, these issues work themselves out. It improves in you late teens, deteriorates in one's late twenties and then gets better from there.

I'm a great advocate of going away to college! Makes the transition easier for all.

Posted by Blogger Phoebe @ 4:00 PM #

I told someone close to you a while back that I hoped you find your way back here someday...I miss your brilliant mind and your "take" on things...

I hope school is treating you well; you deserve it!


Posted by Blogger alan @ 11:56 PM #
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