The other morning, I found a few library books under my teenager’s bed -again. They were long overdue and I knew it would only be a matter of days before I got another notice from the school library alerting me of a hefty overdue notice.
My blood started to boil. Not only am I tired of getting these emails from the school, I am tired of nagging my 14-year old how to take care of property that is not his. It didn’t help I found them while trying to vacuum under his bed, which was impossible.
It’s become apparent that me asking him to clean his room consists of him shoving dirty clothes, dishes, trash, and library books under there so when I walk in to check, his room appears to be spotless.
I lost it about those damn library books. And it wasn’t so much about the books being overdue and the fine. It was because we’ve had the conversation about the books and way he “cleans” his room many times before.
As moms, we are able to keep it together when we ask our child to do something the first time, and usually the second time.
But by the time the third reminder comes around, we all have a tendency to lose it. Then we find ourselves yelling at our perfectly capable teen while we are raking underneath their bed because we know they can do better.
And his response of, “Mom, nothing I ever do is right. You are on me all the time,” certainly made me think. And I had to agree with him. When was the last time I praised him and pointed out more of the good he’s been doing lately and less of the bad? It had been a while.
He’s typical teenager, and I am a typical mother. We do not see eye to eye. He thinks my expectations are too high, and honestly, most of the time I think his are too low. I want him to clean up after himself more. I want him to always remember to say “please” and “thank you,” and I want the eyeballs and disrespectful tone to stop.
I’m not really pleased when he wears the same shirt two days in a row, but he couldn’t care less. I am constantly reminding him to do better, to try new things, to be more. Yes, i am guilty of nagging. I want to raise a good kid who lives up to his potential. I’m almost afraid if I don’t remind him, nothing will get done or he will miss out.
But in the meantime, I need to remember he is not perfect and he does do a lot of good that needs to be recognized. He gets his homework done on time. He mows the lawn and takes out the trash without asking. He keeps me up to date with computer and phone stuff because I have no clue.
He is really into lifting weights, long boarding, and skiing. And I feel like I notice these things and compliment him, but it’s not often enough. He needs to hear it more. How often do I feel underappreciated because I feel like my kids only want me to do certain things for them but never say, “Mom, you work so hard you are awesome.”?
It’s quite a bit. While I know I am the parent and this is the way it goes, it’s not the best feeling. My kids don’t need to feel that way, too. I need to be more aware of their feelings. When they are adults they will have plenty of time to feel under appreciated.
I can do better, and that will include recognizing him (and his brother and sister) when they do something good, even if it is a regular chore or something that is accepted.
It doesn’t mean I will lower my expectations by any means, and I am sure I will still be a nagging mother, but that morning when he told me felt like he never did anything right, he had a point. I have been so busy trying to keep everything together and spending a lot of energy on making sure my kids stay on track with my “reminders” and my “suggestions” I haven’t been doing enough recognizing their strengths.
We all know a little appreciation and a “thank you, you are doing a great job” can do wonders for our self-esteem and make us want to do better. Our teenagers are no different. They may act like they don’t need or care about being praised by their parents, but they do. And I can do better by them.