I don't get teenagers. I know I was one once. In fact, what memories I have of being a teenager are fairly recent things. I believed with my whole heart the following.... My parents sole purpose in life was to make mine difficult. Especially my dad (who I couldn't get along with, it just wasn't possible) who I considered a tyrant of the worst kind. Everyone hated me, including myself. No one could really understand how I felt about things (even though there were literally millions of other teenagers in the world) because I was the only one whose life was confusing and difficult.
I think we get the idea that I was a very self-centered teenager. I am getting the impression that most teenagers are.
Not all teenagers, though. Some are going through truly difficult times, and rather than turning inward they focus that pain outward in an effort to help others. Just Google "teenager organized charities" and you'll come up with some fantastic headlines about some amazing teens. Google "teens and charity" and you'll come up with even more.
Even many teens that are fairly self-centered are amazing kids that do wonderful things at the most unexpected times. You hear about teenagers who decided in a moment of crisis that it would be better to sacrifice themselves if needed rather than let others suffer. Those kids weren't necessarily anything "special" before, but they made the right decisions when it mattered, proving to themselves and the world that they really are great people.
Teenagers can go through a gamut of emotions that will leave you reeling like a drunk on a merry-go-round, all in just an hour. Angry, depressed, giddy, curious, furious, happy, content, fearful, sad..... The list goes on and on. When they are on this roller coaster of emotional insanity, you feel like it will never end. The people around them often get dragged along for the ride, alternately being blamed, hated, loved, feared, and sometimes, in a rare moment of calm, apologized to for the mess that the teen, ultimately, has no control over.
In the end, that's what it really comes down to. Teenagers feel out of control, mostly because they are. Hormones are having this great party inside the teenagers brain and body which is what causes all of the trouble. You just wish you could call the hormones parents and tell them to take their hormones home and punish them appropriately, but since you can't you grit your teeth and smile through whatever is hardest to bare and laugh through what's easiest. You cry with the teenager in your life when that is what they need and then cheer them up with a stupid joke. Above all, you remember that they don't really hate you when they say they do, they do love you when they say they don't, and they are sorry even when they don't say it.
Don't try to understand them, because that'll never work. Don't think that, because you were once a teenager you can reach them on their level. You really can't fully understand them because you aren't a teenager in this day and age (or if you are, well then you'll have better luck than the rest of us, so just go ahead and reach away.) Just be there for them. Even when they don't want you to be there, it's really what they need. Send them a little note letting them know that when they're ready, you'll be there. Tell them you'll ALWAYS be there no matter what. It may not reach them right now, but in the future it may make a difference. Above all, love them, because they don't always love themselves and they deserve it!
Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth. ~Erma Bombeck
If you want to recapture your youth, just cut off his allowance. ~Al Bernstein
Adolescence is perhaps nature's way of preparing parents to welcome the empty nest. ~Karen Savage and Patricia Adams