First of all I would like to put a disclaimer up front that I am not a psychologist so what you are about to read is completely unscientific. But it is based on the life experience of a single dad, so there is some validity here.
If you have read my blog, it may seem like I have a prejudice against teenagers. There is probably some truth to that, but I feel like I need to defend my position. To do that I will be discussing the development stages of a child. 0-2 years, 3-5 years, 5-12 years, and TEENAGERS!
0-2 years is probably my favorite age of a child. Even though it starts out with those sleepless nights and all the diapers, babies are so cute and fun. It is easy to make them smile and they are just starting to form words. Of course most kids will say "Dada" as their first word, which just confirms why I love this age so much.
But that doesn't last long because then comes the "Terrible Twos"! A catch phrase like that doesn't just appear out of thin air. Years of parental experience go into coming up with a phrase like the "Terrible Twos". They call it the Terrible Twos because this is about the time that kids learn the word "NO!" But they don't have a grasp on the rest of the English language so "NO", "Mine" and "Screaming at the top of their lungs" are about the extent of their vocabulary. This makes it impossible to reason with a 2-year-old. Just try to explain to a 2-year-old why climbing around on the ground under the table at Denny's is not a healthy activity. All they want is to get that crayon they dropped. Then instead of coloring with the crayon, they eat it! This developmental stage lasts from about age 2 to 5 and is the primary reason most Dads work overtime and take a lot of business trips.
Then mercifully children reach the age of five and have finally grasped enough of the English language that you can actually reason with them. They understand that Santa will leave a lump of coal in their stocking if they are not good. You can go five years on that explanation alone. And this is also the age when children begin to see their fathers as some sort of super hero that can leap tall buildings and unlock the mystery of riding a two wheel bike without training wheels. If you have a child that is between the age of 5 and 12, relish this time, because the next developmental stage is TEENAGER!
I don't really understand Einstein's theory of relativity or the notion of time travel, but somehow teenagers revert back to the developmental stage of the "Terrible Twos". It is as if they have just learned the word "NO!", but have very little comprehension of the rest of the English language. Trying to reason with a teenager is not much different then trying to reason with a 2-year-old. And forget about the super hero image. You have now been demoted from super hero to circus clown. You can almost hear that circus music playing in the background as you interact with your teenager. But circus clown is not the only circus act you will perform. You also get to be the lion tamer, tightrope walker, juggler, and mind reader. And of course your teenager plays the part of the ring master.
The reason I am bringing up the topic of the developmental stages of children is because of the Positive Discipline Tool Card this week "Allowance". I was very excited to introduce this tool card at our family meeting. I even wrote in my previous post that this might earn me a father of the year nomination. So I kept the card hidden to I could reveal it during our family meeting like a magician pulling the ace of spades from the deck. So I had my daughter do a drum roll on the table and "TADA!" this week's tool card is "Allowance"!
My daughter let out a "Yay!" (which I considered an appropriate response to allowance) But my teenage son said "We don't need an allowance, what we are doing is fine." Huh??? The ring master doesn't like the allowance tool card? Perhaps if I swallow a sword or breath fire he would be impressed? Suddenly I'm back at Denny's trying to get him off the floor and to stop eating the crayons.
In closing here is a short video in honor of all the parents of teenagers out there!