There aren’t a lot of parenting resources to address your concerns once your kids hit the teenage years. And the ones that do exist are mostly (and appropriately) about protecting your teen from the many dangers they may now encounter. You can feel kind of lost when sometimes all you want to know is that a door slam and being told you’re ruining someone’s life is normal behavior. That’s why I was heartened to learn of the new Center for Parent and Teen Communication. The director, Dr. Ginsburg, tells parents of teens that it’s not all doom and gloom. We shouldn’t just focus on the arguing and the eye rolling and your kid’s inability to put clothes in the laundry basket. Rather, he reminds us to recognize that the little kid you fell in love with years ago is still inside the teenager who now towers above you.
At age two, it was jets. Sam knew the name of every fighter jet in the world and spent hours landing toy planes on his model aircraft carrier. His favorite movie was “Top Gun.” At three, it was animals. We gave him a 300-page guidebook, and he returned it to us within minutes, disgusted that it didn’t include something called a binturong. A day after I decorated his room in a jungle theme, he decided that his fourth year of life would be devoted to all things dinosaur. Books, movies, games, museums, we lived in the prehistoric period for what felt like an ice age. I delighted in the fact that when Sam decided he liked something, he didn’t just like it. He embraced it.
Sam’s 16th summer was spent working at movie theater. He took tickets, watched blockbusters, and drank way more blue Icees than considered healthy. And he fell in love with movies. Not in the casual movie-goer way, but in the “these are the top 100 films and I’m going to watch all of them” Sam way. Now when I peek in his room at 11pm, I find him glued to “Batman Returns” on his laptop because he “has to get through the franchise.” He tells me what he’s watched and what he’s going to watch, and he loves to debate why something was good or not good. It’s a lot like how we used to have never-ending talks about which dinosaur was the best dinosaur. Just recently he asked me for a movie recommendation, and I think he’ll really like the one I suggested: “Top Gun.”
Dr. Ginsburg tells us to see our teenagers as they deserve to be seen, rather than through their particular behavior at the moment. It’s a great reminder to not focus on their negative actions when these kids are still trying to figure out how to just exist. Take a few minutes to watch the video for more insights like that, and if you have any Then/Now memories of your own kids, I’d love to hear them!
This post is sponsored by the Center for Parent and Teen Communication; a new resource for every parent navigating the teen years #ThenandNowKids #CPTC