Part 1 of 3 Teenagers are unpredictable, temperamental, impulsive, sexually confused, insecure, defiant, and exceedingly needy beings who require more patience than their two-year-old counterparts. Compile all these words into one and I would say, teenagers are tricky.
Being that I am on my third teenager, this stage should be easy. I should have all the answers; I should have this down pat, able to maneuver around the land mines that come with raising teenagers. But here’s the first thing I have learned: no two children are alike and no two children can be raised exactly the same way.
My first two children were relatively easy teenagers. My oldest, a boy, was the easiest which was such a treat since he was the most difficult between the ages of about 5 to 13 (and also when he had colic as a newborn). I shudder at the memory of the tantrums and meltdowns he seemed to have on a daily basis due in part to his ADHD. There were times when I wondered if I would lose my sanity and there was always that fear that I would do something to hurt him in the process of trying to control his raging outbursts. But, I survived and so did he, both of us growing through the process and gaining a better understanding of his needs. My second child, a daughter, was, and still is, a people pleaser. Although she was hypersensitive as a baby, never allowing me to put her down, and had her share of meltdowns, she tended to listen and follow rules making it easy to impart my husband’s and my wisdom and expectations without resistance. As a teenager, her struggles were more with friends and school than with her parents. So, when the third child became a teenager, my husband and I were ill-prepared for what we would encounter and endure (and we are not done yet).
My third child was an amazingly easy baby. She rarely cried except if she was hungry or her diaper needed changing. My husband would often comment that if he didn’t know better, he wouldn’t know there was a baby in the house. I would tote my little bundle everywhere, even to school when I would volunteer, and she would sit happily in the stroller and almost never make a peep. I was so thrilled to have finally gotten my easy baby. But through the years, she became more difficult. Like my son, I considered her a strong-willed child who pushed the boundaries we had placed around her. But nothing could have prepared us for the teenage years.
When my third child was in fourth grade, she complained of being bullied by another girl. The school didn’t seem to do anything about it, even after a number of other parents complained that their children were also being bullied by the same girl. I made a decision to take her out of that school and have her start a new school at the beginning of fifth grade. Little did I know that there was another bully, a boy, at this new school who quickly latched on to my daughter. At first, my daughter didn’t say anything about it but by sixth grade, it was taking a toll on her. Eventually, this boy bully and some of his friends messaged her on Instagram (she didn’t have a phone and I had no idea they could message on Instagram through their iPods). The boys encouraged her to kill herself, backing her into a “virtual” corner. Of course, there are two ways you can endure being abused: you can take it until you’re trampled to death, or you can fight back which is exactly what my daughter did. The fighting back only bit her in the ass and got her and the boys in trouble (which in retrospect I wish I would have fought). This bullying along with sexual #Abuse at the hands of a trusted friend changed my charismatic, sweet, funny, and talented daughter into a shell of a girl who, as a teen, struggles to get through every day without giving up. Because she was unable to control what happened to her in middle school, she is resistant to rules, authority figures, boundaries to keep her safe, and anything that takes the control away from her. My husband and I were not prepared to deal with such adverse behavior creating even more friction and mayhem at home. It lead to my daughter being hospitalized four times, attending partial hospitalization and out-patient programs, getting treatment from therapists and psychiatrists, doing neurofeedback therapy, and spending 37 days in a residential facility all in the hopes of getting her stabilized. When none of our attempts to help her worked, my husband and I needed to re-evaluate how we were going to raise her.
As I’ve indicated, and as some of you already know, raising teens is difficult. But when you have a teen who has suffered severe #Trauma and struggles with incapacitating #Depression , there are so many ad