Look Out For Number One
Have you noticed that your teen doesn’t seem to notice — or care — too much about you?
You’re struggling up the driveway with an armful of groceries, and she sails right by without a word. You’re drowning in laundry, and he starts rooting through the pile for a particular shirt, grumbles when it isn’t clean, then saunters out of the room without a backward glance.
Day in and day out, there seem to be examples of your teen’s total lack of interest in the work you’re doing to keep the household running, and in your feelings and desires in general. How exactly are they able to disregard our needs completely (and then still have the nerve to ask for a favour)? This is a time of self-discover and new identities for kids, and if that weren’t egocentric enough, there is also compelling evidence that certain parts of their brains (namely, the ones involved in planning ahead and goal setting) are still maturing. While this process may be extremely aggravating for you, there are things you can do, that don’t involve grinning and bearing it until they reach the age of 18.
Think of this opportunity as a teachable moment, and use it to gently point out that you would really appreciate some help with the groceries or the laundry. Acknowledge when they do things that are thoughtful and helpful (“catch them being good”), and work together to find solutions for those things that are likely to turn you into a nag. Family meetings, along with natural and logical consequences, are still the best ways to go for handling these little blips on the “thoughtfulness” radar.