And what you really honestly don’t need to know (if you want to stay at least as sane as you currently are)
Of course, you can ask him yourself – and you should, the answers will definitely be interesting. But this is just in case he’s in one of his non-communicative moods when frankly getting a ‘yes/no/good/bad’ out of him takes a minimum of three differently phrased attempts, and you’re not feeling like you’ve got that much stored up in the patience/energy bank. You know, just in case…
Sleeping in till noon isn’t necessarily a bad thing
While we hear you that yes, it is more than a little irritating that you have been for a run, put a wash on (and taken it out), done the food shopping and cleared your emails before you even catch a glimpse of your son on a Saturday morning – and that was only en route to and from the bathroom he has some science on his side here, even though he probably doesn’t know it..
The fact is that teen body clocks are offset by one to two hours later than ours, so teens naturally fall asleep and wake up later than we do. So long as he does the chores you’ve asked for, it’s probably OK to let it slide about the crazy sleeping at weekends thing.
How to set boundaries he’ll respect
So while you’re letting the no-physical-sighting-before-lunch-thing go, you do need to take a deep breath because some rows are worth it. In fact, they are essential, and healthy. It’s a cliché your son would hate, but teenagers are like toddlers – they’re both in self-discovery and independence mode, and they need clear boundaries and rules they can operate within while doing so, so they can feel safe.
Yes, your teen will push at the mother-son relationship boundaries, just like he did when he was two and wanted to dress himself in his fireman outfit Every Single Day. This time round, it might be more about screens and smartphones and setting some guidelines around using them. While this might be a tougher negotiation than Brexit, it’s great if it can be a negotiation – that is, if he can see the sense in what you’re saying and has agreed to it, he’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Of course, there will be times when your parenting role is to put your foot down – just try to keep these to a minimum and remember you ARE the parent, not a mate (he already has those). And don’t sweat the small stuff – if curfew was 11pm and he walked in the door at 11.15pm, this is actually him respecting your rules, while making a very quiet bid for a bit of adult independence. Let it go…
Why he gets so incredibly angry
If we listed all the things that potentially make him angry there would be no space left on the internet. You know, because you’ve been on the end of those emotions and mood swings, that there are about a gazillion apparently random things, from ‘Hello’ onwards, that you can say which will trigger either a toddler-style tantrum, or a storming off situation. Case in point: do not, we repeat, do not, ask him how school was as soon as he walks in the door. What he actually hears is “What marks did you get in school today and why weren’t they better?” He needs space to decompress, process his day and, indeed, finish it.
Much of the anger he feels comes from a fear that he is a) losing control, b) feeling misunderstood, or that he is c) worried about you or has d) disappointed you. Your job – and it is NOT AT ALL EASY – is to stay calm, and BE THE PERSON YOU WOULD LIKE HIM TO BE. No pressure, but parents are the top role models for their teenagers, and not in fact that idiotic posh-boy YouTuber he’s always watching. Ask him what’s going on, never assume you know (because this will infuriate him, as will trying to demonstrate empathy via what you think is teenage bantz) and make sure he knows you’re on his side – because to him, this will not always be obvious.
That it’s actually OK that his room is so messy
So this is the pick-your-battles conversation. You knew it was coming, right? While it may cause you ACTUAL PHYSICAL PAIN to open his bedroom door and see the onslaught of dirty socks/computer cables/headphones/trainers/water bottles (yes it might be just us, but water bottles are what we are constantly clearing out of our teens’ bedrooms – we don’t know why they are so appealing).
So long as it’s not actual rotting food, and there are still enough mugs left in the kitchen for everyone to have a cup of tea, for the sake of your mother-son relationship you may have to let this one go. Because if you are always nagging him about everything, he’ll stop listening to you about anything. And while grubby boxers may not be a matter of life and death, some of the other stuff he’ll be potentially exploring very much is.
Our parenting advice: shut the door, walk away and light a scented candle in a different clean and tidy room of your choice.
How to have a sense of humour
Teenagers are funny. We’re not saying there’ll be no more wee and poo jokes, but they will increasingly be able to get the subtle irony of a situation and, less rewardingly, respond to you with sarcasm. It is a fact that most things are better with a well-seasoned side order of funny – especially if it’s nagging about homework again. And you don’t have to be properly funny as such, in fact sometimes this may just annoy him more – but adopting a light-hearted approach with an appreciation of life’s absurdities is no bad thing.
And what he definitely doesn’t need you to know
What he’s doing on the internet EVERY SINGLE SECOND. Yes, there will be stuff he’s looking at that you wish he wasn’t (quite a lot of which, it turns out, will be £200-plus trainer collabs with grime artists). However, he needs to learn to negotiate his own way around the virtual world in just the same way that he needs to do so in the real world.
So you’ve set some good guidelines – this is you letting go.
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