Raising teenagers now is different from when I was growing up. I can’t say that it is for the better or worse, I can only comment from my own experience.
My two older daughters are just at the cusp of teen-agerdom (13 & 14 years old) so I probably haven’t yet experienced the full brunt of raising teens, especially girls. However, when I think back to the time when I was their age (a looong time ago it seems) I remember feeling more mature than I see them. I also remember feeling as if the world revolved around me. That the things happening directly to me are what mattered, and everything else was for decoration.
I try to keep that in mind when I start to think what self-centered creatures these girls are. I remind myself I was that way too; when I was much bigger than the world. I remind myself to let them find their space in this world; To shrink back and realize what a great big wonderful world this is that they have a very small part in. I want them to grow and realize that they have to make the best of the small space they occupy and maybe leave it a tad better than when they found it.
To help them do that, I have to listen to them. I mean really listen even when they don’t seem to be making sense. I listen not necessarily so I can tell them what to do next, god knows I still don’t know what to do next myself. But I let them talk so that they can talk their way through whatever situation they are in. I let them talk even when what they are saying stings.
That is what happened when my oldest Asi wrote the poem below. It stung. But even as parents we are still learning too, and this is a lesson she taught. She titled it listen, and that is what I try to do now.
Why do you criticize,
when you don’t even listen?
Because you don’t hear me,
how do you know me?
You’ve never asked,
so I’ve never told.
How can you say that I’m hateful?
When you’re ten times worse.
You keep saying,
“I only want what’s best for you.”
But you just keep yelling.
Why do you look for a reason to yell?
But keep promising otherwise.
You’re my dad and I know you worry.
But have you ever thought?
Even just once truly ever asked,
“Do you want to talk?”
I remember once you did,
And I tried, I really did.
But one sentence later,
you burst into another lecture.
Then another time we sat,
Again to talk once more.
And you brought down all my hopes
of getting through to you once again.
I’ve gone to mom, and talked to her,
But once again you came,
Like a thunderstorm you came,
And pointed out all the problems you thought I had.
And told me I had no reason to cry.
You know nothing.
So why can’t you simply sit and listen?
I do the same for you and everyone else.
Why can’t everyone do the same for me?
Why do you ask questions, but wait for no answers?
They’re not rhetorical,
And you know it’s true.
It’s like talking to the dead,
Who no longer have ears.
Why don’t you listen, and try to understand?
How can you be so deaf?