Monday, March 3, 2014

Monday Madness - Having The Last Word

Well, let's see.  I've discussed the Senior Year, The Car and Driving Lessons, Mid-terms and Drugs, The Boyfriend, Being 18, an Adult, But Not Really Independent.  I'll discuss "Money and Jobs" and PSAT, SAT, ACT in another post.  Today I want to talk about having the last word -- or not ever having the last word.

"Getting the last word means that you win the debate. It also shows your moral superiority, and willingness to stand your ground. This should convince your opponent that you are correct, and will certainly impress. . ." (From Wikipedia)

We've all been there.  The taut discussions.  The tears, the rolling of the eyes, the slamming doors.  Also the pouting, the fuming, ranting and raving. The "I hate you" and "You're the worst mother ever!" which are also accompanied by slamming doors -- even locking them.

Of course, we as parents are unfailingly kind, forever gentle, perpetually supportive, wholehearted listeners, totally understanding, continually patient, neverendingly available, constantly calm, always being the kind of parent that every child wants and needs.  We're never short-empered, impatient, rude, exasperated, frustrated, upset, angry, tired, or just plain fed up with our beloved children.  Right!  If this is you, then you're a candidate for sainthood (or not of this Earth).  If you're more the opposite of parental perfection  -- then welcome to the club.

Remember that learning patience takes time, energy and, well, patience.  If you come by it naturally, how lucky you are.  However, regardless of your nature, there is nothing so frustrating as trying to get your point across and having a perfect, memorable, thought-provoking exit line, but not being able to have the satisfaction of The Last Word.  Nope, your beloved child will pop up with "Right, Mom."  Or "Sure Mom, what do you know."  Or the previous "I hate you" "You're the worst." "You could never understand." "You've never been through what I'm going through," or "How Lame," etc.

You may never get the last word again.  That's because they are bursting at the seams with self-righteousness, self-defense, unchecked new and raging hormones.  Their emotions and perspective is changed from that of your well-remembered docile child of eight or even ten.  Then they'd listen to you.  They might even brag to friends about how smart you are or perhaps how accomplished you are.  They're proud of you, proud to be your child, and they want to be with you.

Then they hit puberty, adolescence rears it's ugly head, and after middle school, there is no going back.  It's a full on struggle throughout high school to maintain an even keel, have some semblance of normalcy.  They have more distractions, interruptions, peer pressures, are constantly bombarded with "how tos" for every aspect of their lives from every source:  friends, internet, TV, radio, video games, ads, youtube, facebook, instagram -- all there at the touch of their smartphones, laptops, and tablets.  What kind of impact can parents have in this fast-paced digital world?  How do you hold your own?  What are you to do?  Give up? Try harder?

For me, it's been a little of both at different times.  I had to give up having the last word.  It was too hard.  I try to let it go, or I go seething to my phone or laptop and call or write my friends -- fellow parents.  We share war stories and cry and let out our frustrations.  If I had a significant other, then that would be my go-to person to vent to, to bemoan my fate as the worst mother ever.  It helps to share these frustrations, anxieties, and painful daily struggles.

And I do try harder -- to get my point across at times when she can't leave the room or tune me out.  We have short, pithy conversations en route to shopping, appointments, to church or choir practice, to some event, or family get together.  Or her all time favorite, "going out to dinner."  I think we both save important stuff for the times we're sitting across from each other in our favorite restaurant.  Then we know we have each other's undivided attention.  There are no distractions of TV, pets, friends, news, cell phones, etc.  I try to use humor and even mild sarcasm works to make something clear to her in a lighthearted or non-threatening manner.  If I make a joke of it, I'm less likely to get the full on defensiveness, or even the fight back/ attack mode.  She can see what I'm saying and it's not a personal attack.

I'm not the master of this strategy, but I'm working it every chance I get.  Don't ever forget you were your child's first teacher, and the one with the legacy and most lasting impact.  When you're not there, your words of wisdom remain.  The highest compliment is to hear her telling her friends something I told her -- not like it's the Gospel truth, but that it's important enough to hear and acknowledge.  Of course, she doesn't tell them it came from me.  It's more a "did you know. . ."  But I'll take that any day over the eye rolling, door slamming, shouting matches of the past.

Tags:  Eighteen, humor, talking, discussing, conversation, teaching, emotions, communication, communicating, listening, hearing, helping


  1. Thanks for sharing your parenting struggles with us. I have a daughter who is 3 and does some of these things teenagers do--except usually it's throwing a fit because she's not getting her way and she says I am mean and need to apologize--am I in trouble or what? I have a 13-year-old stepson who is a sweetheart, but at times, is starting some teenage behaviors and so we have the best of both worlds as parents right now! :) LOL It's nice to read what others are doing and see what's working!

    1. Hi Margo, My goodness, you'll have madness coming and going! I marvel at parents who have more than one child --my one takes all my time and energy. Monday Madness is my attempt to help other parents because I was totally unprepared for living with an eighteen year old -- never knew how it would all change living with a new semi-independent "adult." I learn things every day and lately have reclaimed some authority. I'm supporting her, so she needs to acknowledge that and be more considerate. It's hard work. I was looking forward to a break -- maybe when she graduates college!

  2. Meanwhile, mine is about to turn 19, how did that happen??!

    1. Hi RC, Mine will be 19 in May. So now she's telling me what she wants for her birthday. (Hmmm, I just paid off her car, bought her a replacement radio, paid her parking fines, give her gas money until she gets a job, am planning a trip to Spain, and she wants concert tickets? So, no, I think I've spent enough so that going out to dinner for her birthday will be enough.) I have no idea how time flies so fast. I like the idea of time as a circle. Haven't we been through all this before?