If My Teens Answered Me The First Time, Our Lives Would Be Better

“I’m coming!” Is a response that’s yelled from my kids’ bedrooms at least a few times day.

I hear it after I ask them to come down for dinner. They shout it after I’ve told the it’s time for school. It’s their response when I tell them their entire extended family is here and it’s time to celebrate their birthday by eating sugar and opening gifts.

Their tone is snotty. It’s the sound of them being annoyed at their mother for telling them over and over again that it’s time to eat, party, or get their butt to school.

teen with headphones and eye cover in
The problem isn’t me, it’s them. Apparently answering me is very, very hard for them. (Twenty20 @jdnjd83)

Here’s why it would be so much better if my kids answered me the first time.

I get it— no one likes to be told the same thing until their head feels like it may explode. But I keep reminding my kids that if they answered me after my first announcement instead of greeting me with silence (which prompts me to send along another reminder in a higher tone), I would shut up and we could do the damn thing already. No arguing or talking back required. What a novel idea.

I know I’m good at being loud and projecting my voice. It’s a skill my three kids have helped me perfect. I learned very quickly that if I wasn’t louder than they were, no one would hear me bark out orders. We just can’t have that, so I am positive that hearing me isn’t the issue—I made sure of it long ago.

I know they always hear me because I make sure I’m loud. I put my vocal cords on repeat until I get an answer; some answer; any answer which lets me know that a nth every least my request has been delivered.

The problem isn’t me, it’s them. Apparently answering me is very, very hard for them.

Somewhere along the road, they felt it was acceptable to ignore me and I can’t and won’t operate that way. I like validation. I like confirmation. I think it’s perfectly acceptable to expect an answer and not assume they hear me.

Also, a shoulder shrug, eye roll, or grunt isn’t a response in my book. Especially if they aren’t in the same room. But I swear my teenagers think I can see or sense these reactions judging by the way they interrupt my fourth “It’s time for dinner please come down because I need to eat or I’m going to pass out,” with, “I know! I heard you the first time!”

I mean really? You did? Because typically when someone tells you something is ready or asks you a question they are either expecting either that you to come along already, or that you answer appropriately. Maybe my kids think I can see their response because I’ve always told them that I have eyes in the back of my head and I can see everything they do, so they better behave.

By now though, they must know that I don’t possess those super powers at all, not with all my demanding of  a response when I talk to them.

Another prime time to ignore me, is when they come home from school and dump their backpacks in the kitchen island, and I ask them to do their homework before they get on their phones. Once again, I replay my voice until I get something out of them which is usually a very frustrated teenager asking me why I feel the need to remind them so many times.

“Because I feel like I’m talking to the air,” I tell them.

A simple, “Okay” would do the trick but apparently that’s too much to ask. I’ll keep asking for recognition when I say something to my kiddos. It’s common curtesy, and I know damn well they are capable of responding.

The other day I got a huge response by threatening to change the password if they didn’t clean their rooms. And when I’m at the grocery store getting all their favorite foods, they text me incessantly, asking when I’ll be home. Maybe next time they do that I should ignore them and see how it goes.

You Might Also Want to Read: 

It’s Not Always What You Say To Your Teens, But How You Say It

About Katie BinghamSmith

Katie Bingham-Smith lives in Maine with her three kids. She is a Staff Writer at Scary Mommy, shoe addict and pays her kids to rub her feet. You can see more of her on Facebook and Instagram .

Read more posts by Katie

Don't miss out!
Want more like this? Get updates about parenting teens and young adults straight to your inbox.