The past few weeks has been tough on us all. In a matter of days, our whole lives have turned upside down and inside out. Each day brings something new and different that we must choose to accept or risk our safety. And to top it all off our teenagers are losing it and making life hard for everyone.
Your daughter wants to see her boyfriend. Your son wants to hang out with his crew. Even your tweens are giving you grief because they cannot leave the house. It’s too much. The reality is they are experiencing as much stress and disappointment as you are, but they have no place to direct their frustrations. So they’re giving it to you. Great. These are the three main reasons your teen is acting like a jerk.
Their Friends Define Their World
Somewhere between the ages 10 and 14 parents cease to exist in the life of a young person. We are good for rides, money, and dinner, but other than that we’re just in the way. And that’s when life is normal. When life is stressful, even the dinner, the rides, and asking for money can be an imposition for a teenager.
Their worldview is defined by their social circle. When their ability to connect and engage with their social circle the way they choose has been taken away, they act out. And that usually feels like they’re being a jerk. Give your teen the space to express his/her feelings and frustration with the guidelines of respect appropriate for your family.
Related Post: 3 Words To Keep Your Cool in Stressful Situations
They Think They’re Invincible
We’ve all heard the talk about teens’ brains not being fully developed. Well, that’s not exactly true. What’s really happening is called myelination. It’s a process where the neural pathways that have been created are – for lack of a better term – being insulated and reinforced. Why does this matter? Because until that process is complete somewhere in the mid to late 20s, they think they’re invincible because their brains aren’t properly filtering danger and threats.
That shows up when they sneak out of the house, decide to break curfew or step to the wrong person at a party. It can also show up in more dangerous situations like making a choice to drink and drive, giving into peer pressure to try drugs, and violating your rules to see a boyfriend or girlfriend. So as much as you think they’re being purposefully disobedient – and they sometimes are – they really don’t understand the risks. They know enough about life to be dangerous but not enough to be careful.
Related Post: 3 Communication Tips to Get What You Need from Family
Connecting Digitally Isn’t New
When I worked in corporate America over 10 years ago we were using digital technology to conduct meetings and conference calls through video and screen sharing. More than 10 years ago. Just like Millennials grew up with the internet, GenZ has grown up in a world of realtime digital connectivity. So when they scoff at your suggestion to meet up with their friends by Zoom it’s not that your teen is acting like a jerk. It’s that this way of connecting socially isn’t new for them. They have never lived in a world without digital cameras or cell phones and have been group FaceTiming their friends before we even knew what FaceTime was.
While you may not be ready to let them see their friends in person, hear them out and let them know you understand. If you are comfortable with some in-person gatherings (even at a distance) make sure they practice good hygiene and follow the parameters you’ve set for them. Most of all try and be understanding of their frustrations, even if you’re not moved by them.
How do you cope when it seems your teen is acting like a jerk?