Parenting: When teens push your buttons

By their very definition and age, teens tend to be self-centred and when they are in this phase, they tend to be rude and curt to people around them, including parents and this, in turn, makes people think, they are being disrespectful. But this a phase, which they outgrow once they become older and thus, more mature and learn to navigate the pitfalls of social conversations.

While I won’t say BB & GG are outright disrespectful, they do, at times, push as many buttons as they can, to see how much they can get away with. I looked and searched online for ideas I can implement at home to nip this in the bud and at the same time, teach them life skills.

We have to understand that this is happening to pretty much every child who enters the teenage years and so as parents and rational adults, we need to tackle this calmly without really reacting to their rude behaviour. They will try and push boundaries, it’s in their blood, but remember, we do not stoop to their level and react and act like them.

Focus on the behaviour and not on the person behaving and set clear rules on what constitutes good behaviour. Also, make sure your teen knows the consequences of bad behaviour and make sure you go through on those consequences when rules are broken.

Be a role model to your child, model the same behaviour you want to see in your child

Ignore mild forms of disrespect. It’s best to ignore mild forms of disrespect like rolling eyes, not replying to questions, shrugging shoulders etc. Ignoring such behaviour will let them know that you don’t give importance to such behaviour and hopefully, this kind of behaviour will peter off gradually.

Speak to them, often and even when they are uncommunicative. I always ask GG & BB how their day was and more often than not, the response I get is either, ‘the usual’ or ‘nothing much’. I don’t give up and sit and ask them in detail and with this try to open communication channels between us. It’s easier with GG (maybe because she is a girl) than BB, but I am not giving up and hope there will be a day when he is as much a chatty Kathy as GG is.

Hope these tips are useful for you when you are dealing with an uncommunicative and unresponsive teen. Do comment below on how you deal with your teen!

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Teens and Smart Devices

 

 

Over the last week, I have been thinking very hard on this topic since it’s something that’s close to my heart these days. BB is always on a smart device, either his phone or laptop from the time he wakes up until he has to be pushed to keep them aside and go to bed. I have already tried some techniques, which I will elaborate below, but that was not enough, I needed some more ammunition to get him to concentrate on school work and not just play games on his devices. So here’s a summary of what I found.

BB and GG belong to a generation who are digital natives and they have not lived a life where they didn’t have access to the internet or didn’t have a life which was not online. So it does become slightly difficult to get them to draw a line between the real and virtual worlds. This is a generation, who after coming back from school, start speaking to their friends online, those friends whom they just saw as little as a few minutes back!

 

After reading up on what I, as a parent can do, I have come to the conclusion that unless the teen is very mature, there’s not much we can do. All we can do is keep reiterating and hope it ends someplace inside their head and they are able to understand what we are trying to say to them.

 

Some of the things I have already implemented include bedtimes not later than 10 pm for both of them, especially during a school night, the charging of their mobile phones outside their rooms (actually my room so I know they don’t use their phone later), no laptops or other electronic devices inside their room after bedtime and also have installed a smartphone locking app in their phones. I use OurPact, which, when I first downloaded it more than two years back, I could use on both phones from my phone. I understand that these days only one child phone can be monitored from a parent’s phone using the free version. The children are not allowed to remove OurPact from their phones and the penalty for doing so will mean that phone privileges are revoked.

What else can I do?

I am going to try to get them to keep their phones aside for a fixed amount of time, starting from 15 minutes initially and then going up. They are used to keeping their phones switched off in school, so I am hoping this should not be too difficult for them.

Another thing I am going to implement is making them keep their phones in a drawer when they are doing school work and studying. This may be slightly difficult to implement (because I have already tried this), but I am going to continue to keep trying. They have songs downloaded on their phones, but still, want to access YouTube to listen to music.

I am still looking for solutions which I can, as a parent implement to cut down on my children’s smart device usage. Do you have any innovative and out of the box ideas that I can use? Please do comment below so I can implement them!

Happy Birthday GG & BB: A Letter to you on your 14th Birthday!

Happy Birthday, BB & GG! You turn 14 tomorrow and the years between the first time I held you both in my arms to today seems to have gone by in a flash. Tomorrow is also your Hindi year-end exam and I wish you all the best for the exams (though I know you wish the exams didn’t happen today!).

GG, you are my first born (by two minutes) and as I watch you grow into a warm and confident young lady, I am always surprised you were born from my womb. You are beautiful, both from the inside and the outside, but I am glad, at this point in life, you are more concerned on the inside than the outside, maybe unlike your peers.

BB, my baby boy, who is now a whole head taller than me, you are still the sweet and lovely little boy I watched grow up. I still love the random hugs you give me now and then and the cuddles you ask me sometimes and hope you never change this aspect of your personality.

Both of you are no longer children and completely dependent on me anymore. You are already young adults who show promise of the adults you will soon become.

For both of you, the exams that begin around the end of the month are defining exams. How you in this exam will determine to a large extent your future path in life as the subjects you take will eventually determine the subjects you can take post school.

There are very few children who are your age and who know what they want to do in life, you both are quite fortunate you have been able to pin down your passions early on and to a large extent, you both have decided what you want to do in life. All I say that grow your passion and let that determine your path in life. As someone wise once said,

“When you love what you do and work in something that you are passionate about, you never ever go to work a single day in your life!”

The teens are brutal years, take this from someone who has been through it. I have always believed that teenagers are more lethal than even adults and what you learn while navigating these years will be the foundation which you can use to base your adult interactions.

The teen years are brutal, take this from someone who has been through it. I have always believed that teenagers are more lethal than even adults and what you learn while navigating these years will be the foundation which you can use to base your adult interactions.

One thing I would like you both to learn during the holidays is to learn to cook! Cooking is no longer restricted to girls and with both learning to make simple meals in school, we can take this further and learn simple meals you can make for yourself. This will make you more independent and cooking is an important life skill. You will never starve or even spend too much money on meals when you stay away from home!

Speaking of which, I am quite dreading the time when you both fly the coop – BB will start first when he starts his National Service, but I would love for both to stay and study overseas so you gain valuable experience – both academically as well as in life!

My hopes and aspirations for you both are quite simple, I want you to enjoy what you do and in the process be happy doing it. Live life to the fullest and make use of every opportunity that comes your way, be it tiny, little or big. Keep learning, it never stops and try to learn something new every day! Love each other immensely as you now do and never stop being in each other’s lives. You both share a special and unique bond, keep that flame always alive!

Happy Birthday, GG & BB! Remember I love you to the moon and back (definitely more!)

Twin Mum Questions

50d4b665dc1140faf06be9785be3660f-twin-girls-twin-babiesIt never gets old. From the time GG & BB were born till now, every time people hear I have twins, people ask me questions, most of which, when I think about it, are almost similar in nature. BB & GG turn 14 this year and I have been fielding these questions for just as long. So here’s a list of questions that I sometimes wish I have prepared answers for and just pass it to them when they ask!

f8c92fd92da4a96a4c0882c314c4a2aeAre they twins? (I used to get asked this a lot when they were younger, but I don’t get asked this question anymore because BB is taller than GG and so people assume she is the younger sister)

Yes, they are….They look the same age, right?

Is it two boys/two girls?

No, they are not, can’t you see they are dressed differently, according to their sex? When they learn one of each – Wow! Fantastic, you hit the jackpot!

Are they identical?

No, they are not. Basic biology states that identical twins need to be the same sex and since they are of different sexes, they are fraternal twins and not identical

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Were they planned or did it happen naturally?

Gosh! Such intrusive questions about my life!

Were they conceived naturally?

Another super intrusive question, but to answer it, yes, they were conceived naturally

Do twins run in your family?

I am actually not sure here. My mum’s sister has twins, but the generation before that didn’t have. Maybe it runs my maternal grandmother’s family, but we are still not sure.

Do they look alike?

Hello! Twins of a different sex, so obviously they look different. But in all fairness, when they were babies, people did tend to feel they looked alike, but I never saw the likeness!

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Are they alike in temperament?

Nope! They are completely different in temperament, likes and dislikes. GG is a very girly girl who loves to draw, paint and sing while BB is a boy who, like most boys loves planes, cars and other vehicles, his obsession with planes is real and he has most likely decided to have a career in aviation.

Who is older/younger?

GG is older by 2 minutes. They were delivered by c-section and my gynaecologist/obstetrician felt she was not growing well and may not survive the trauma of a natural birth, hence the scheduled c-section. So she was delivered first, but we were worried in vain, as she was relatively healthy and didn’t need to spend any time in the NICU, which was what was told to us before the birth.

I could never do it

Well, before I had twins, I never thought of managing twins too, but you just do what you have to do! So I did it!

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To any twin mum reading this article, what are your favourite twin mum question?

Family Stories: Family Adoptions

Following my last post, I started thinking more about what makes a woman a mum. I have also been watching this drama where a woman is forced to give up her five-year-old daughter to her sister-in-law (husband’s sister) who is childless. She has another, older daughter and is pregnant with her third child, which also happens to be a girl. Her husband had taken loans from his sister’s husband who also pressurises the couple for the adoption. The woman’s mother-in-law also forces the issue as she wants her daughter to be happy since the daughter’s mother-in-law is forcing her son to divorce her since she is childless. The only person who is on her side is the woman’s brother-in-law (husband’s brother), but he is silenced by the others in the family. At this point in the drama, the child has been handed over, but everyone is miserable. I am sure the ending will be positive, as it happens in all dramas, but this got me thinking about something that has happened in my own family.

My mum is the oldest of four girls, and when my grandmother was pregnant with her fourth child (maybe in the hope of having a boy), her sister-in-law (my grandfather’s sister) who was married, but childless offered to adopt the child if it was another girl. My aunt was born and was informally adopted by her aunt. Why informally you may ask? This was because she was betrothed at birth to a cousin who happened to have the same gotra as her aunt. Now because marriage within a gotra was prohibited, the aunt could never formally adopt her or even have her call her mum. She lived with my mum’s aunt all her life, a mere 10-minute walk from her mum’s place and used to meet her sisters often. She always knew who her parents were and used to call them mum and dad and her adopted mum and dad as aunt and uncle, but she didn’t go to the same school as her sisters and perhaps in a small way resented the hold her sisters had over her.

When she got married, it was my grandparents who gave her away and this rankled my grandaunt all her life. She was incredibly jealous of my grandmother and my mum and her sisters and would resent anytime my aunt spent with them. This went on for around 60 odd years until the grand aunt died last year.

She was a mother to my aunt in all ways that mattered but never heard her adopted daughter call her mum, while she had to hear her sister-in-law being called mum all the time. I would think the resentment she had within herself was completely justified.

Then I started thinking about my grandmother. How would she have felt, having to hand over her child to someone else, even though she was her own sister-in-law? Would she have felt pressurised by her family to give her up? Or did she do it with full consciousness?

The person who was most stressed was my aunt according to me. She was constantly under pressure between her mum and adoptive mum and had to play a balancing game all her life. It is only now, when she is past 60 and her adoptive mum has passed on, that she is planning a holiday to stay with her birth mum for a month. How sad is that! She had to always watch her thoughts, words and actions in case her adoptive mum took offence in something she said or did, especially when it related to her birth family.

This situation was something I’d lived with my whole life and was not something I really thought about till now because this was normal in my family. But watching the drama and then relating it to what happened/is happening in my own family made me see it in a different light, one that is more emphatic, I hope.

I hope sharing this family story helps you see adoptive families, especially those who have been adopted by their own family a little differently. Life is never black or white and this is one situation where the shades of grey are more prominent.