That’s right, you heard me. Now, wait a moment before you judge me. The dictionary defines an “asshole” as a stupid, irritating, or contemptible person. How does that not describe a teenager?
Before you go getting your panties all in a wad and calling me all kinds of names, I am not saying your child is an asshole. I am saying that, as a whole, the average teenager contains all of the characteristics of a modern-day asshole.
It’s Not Their Fault; It’s Part of Growing Up
As soon as they are born, a child is tasked with growing up; can you imagine the pressure? Probably not because you don’t remember the impossible tasks you had to accomplish, like crawling, walking, and talking as an infant.
But, a teenager has it especially difficult because they feel like an adult; they want to be treated like an adult, but the large majority of them most surely do not act like adults.
So Why Do I Bring This Up?
Why do I feel the need to write about the irritating characteristics of teenagers? The truth is, there are so many lessons that we can learn as adults by parenting our teenagers. The struggle between parents and their adolescent children pushes us to be stronger. It gives us the ability to persevere through those long late, night pick-ups or pulling the bowls of Ramen hidden from underneath the bed.
To those who know me, it’s no secret that my son and I struggled to find common ground while he was in high school. The biggest reason for that struggle is that he and I are not the same person, and it was challenging for me to understand why he did some of the things that he did..
Seriously, who does a homework assignment but then forgets to turn it in multiple times. Who in their right mind says that school is going well when they know that the teacher is about to call because they’re failing art class? Teenagers, that’s who.
So what are some of the significant lessons that I’ve learned from my little asshole, my son, that will hopefully help me with my daughter?
- He is not ME. He deserves a shot at finding himself.
- His goals are not my goals. What I want for him may not be what he wants for himself.
- His way is not my way, and that is ok.
- I have hindsight; he doesn’t. He wasn’t a teenager before. I was.
You Are Not The Same Person As Your Child
You may be the type of person who is goal-driven and passionate about achieving them. You may constantly be after the next promotion or a bigger paycheck, but what if your child is the type of person that only finds value in helping others? Just because they don’t share your drive or passion doesn’t mean they can’t find their success in life.
Maybe you graduated from Harvard with several degrees, including a doctorate, but your child is miserable in school. Does that mean that they can’t become entrepreneurs and thrive in their way?
Let’s say you learn by reading. Does that mean that your child can’t learn through a more verbal method like role-playing or reciting? There are so many different ways to learn and absorb information, and we have to acknowledge that our way isn’t the only way.
We Have Something Our Children Don’t — Hindsight
We fully experienced our childhood and all the good or bad that came with it. They are in the middle of their journey and have to experience it for themselves.
There are so many lessons that we can learn through parenting. Most of our parenting is learned behavior. It is either behavior you saw in your parents that you emulate or behaviors in your parents that you try to avoid.
Sometimes it’s behaviors you saw in other parents or grandparents that meant so much to you. And yet still, it can sometimes be based on fear from horror stories you’ve heard from other people about their parents who made very poor decisions.
As a Parent, You Are Constantly in Fear Mode
- What if they don’t do well?
- What if they don’t graduate?
- What if they get into drugs or alcohol?
- What if they drive too fast?
There are so many things to worry about, and those worries typically cause many actions that our children see. They don’t understand why that worry exists in your mind, and they aren’t supposed to; they are still kids, after all. Teenagers find it hard to believe that their parents were ever teenagers themselves.
Think about it; you were young once. Do you think that your parents understood you? What would happen if part of your parenting style was learning to get to know your teenager the same way you may learn about an employee working for you.
- What is it that they need from you?
- What are their learning styles?
- What is their love language?
Something as simple as understanding how your child can best study can make a world of difference.
As parents, we need to do a better job leading our children. They need to see us willing to meet them where they are to help drive them forward. I would never expect an employee to perform a job they don’t understand, so why, as a parent, do we find ourselves saying “because I said so” so much?
Teenagers Make Us Better Adults
I know that raising my son has helped me connect with my employees on many different levels, but the most critical level of connection is understanding that we are all human, but we are not all the same.
Maybe those frustrating and irritating teenagers can make us more patient and understanding adults. Maybe those adolescents can teach us more about being solid leaders than any self-help book out there.
My “asshole” has taught me so much, and I will forever be grateful for the lessons learned. I can only hope to take those lessons and pay them forward with my daughter.
I also hope to continue improving my leadership skills by providing my employees with a strong leader worth emulatingF
Last modified: September 13, 2022