Parents and Family
Our 16-year-old son is at boarding school and comes home on weekends. When he does, he and his 10-year-old brother fight like cats and dogs. The dinner table, which used to be a nice place with easy give-and-take, has turned into one long argument. I know this is because the little one wants the attention he's used to and the big one wants to talk to us because he's not home most of the time. How can we satisfy both their needs and end this constant fighting?
Dear WholeMom, I have two daughters, aged 17 and 16. Lately they appear not to like each other. The 17-year-old doesn't like her sister's friends and lets it be known and not very nicely. The 16-year-old takes it very personally and fires back in a nasty tone. This is getting worse and now they don't seem to like anything about each other. The younger says she needs to move away for a time to get away from her sister because she "can't take it anymore." I think they should work things out but have run out of ideas. Neither has a nice word to say to the other and life here has gotten miserable for everyone. Moving out is not an option as there is no place to go.
QHow do you communicate with teenagers who keep seeing each other in a bad light? Two of my children, aged 17 and 19, attack each other verbally every day. There is lots of blame and negativity and it rips me apart. I try to teach them to give the benefit of doubt, but they consistently assume each other's intentions are bad. How can I effectively help my teenage siblings to get along with each other? Guest Expert, Jackie Goldman, M.S., answers: My feeling is that you cannot play the role of judge and jury.
Nicole is 13. Her older sister Jenny is 15. They're getting ready for school. Nicole: What did you do to your hair? It looks weird. Jennie: Why don't you just shut up? Nicole: Did you cut it? You cut it yourself? Mom is going to kill you. Mom, Mom! Jennie: Just shut up. Leave her out of it.
My friend Elaine is 36 years old but she has not yet learned to sit. She can stand, occasionally, but generally, she's in motion. She is chasing her two-year-old, wiping chocolate off her four-year-old daughter's lovely face, or teaching her seven-year-old to ride a bike or her nine-year-old to jump rope. She is outside with them all afternoon, or inside, baking or doing projects. When the kids go to sleep, Elaine cleans or paints something. Thursday nights, she cooks two full meals (feasts, really) for her frequent weekend guests.
Dr. Michael Tobin's prescriptions for a healthy parent-teen relationship prompted many reactions from our readers. Though some consider the article "a pretty good description of kids and parents today", other claim that "it just won't work" in their circumstance. Here is a sampling of the responses we received.
I'm 15, and I'm scared of my Dad. He used to hit me hard when I was in elementary school whenever he got angry, or sometimes he threw me against walls. He stopped doing that in 7th grade because he realized I was old enough to report the "violence". Even though he's not hitting me anymore, I'm still scared of him. Now, whenever he gets mad at me, he just makes hitting gestures, like lifting his fist or belt, and screaming and then cornering me. I know he won't really hit me, but it's already frightening enough to know that he always has a temptation to do it, and he's only holding himself back. God forbid if one day he can't hold himself back I don't know what's gonna happen to me. He told me that in those exact words, "If I ever fail to hold back my temptation, I swear you will end up in the hospital!" I've tried talking to him heart-to-heart, but he always ends-up saying that he can't help it, its just the way he naturally is. He knows how I feel already, but it's like a habit for him, or something. How can I adjust? - Scared of My Dad
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"The Battle of Parents and Teens"