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Treat as chutzpah? Or ignore?
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amother




OP
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:07 pm
My 14 year old son has been really getting on my nerves recently, and I think I have two ways to respond at this point. I can either decide that what he's been doing is chutzpah and I need to really come down hard on him each time it happens ("hard" doesn't mean major punishments or anything, it means calling it out as disrespectful and speaking in a harsh voice to let him know it's not acceptable), or I can tell myself it's just normal teenage stuff and completely ignore it. My middle ground, of trying to ignore it until I feel too resentful and then exploding with frustration and giving him an angry lecture that he doesn't listen to, needs to stop.

Situation 1: I tell him to stop doing X. (Playing too roughly with his young sibling in a way that he WILL hurt her -- and has before -- because he doesn't realize his strength. Or throwing a ball against a wall near a light fixture, which is against house rules. Or playing with some part of the house in a way that makes me nervous it will break, like swinging my pantry door really hard against its hinges. Just a few examples.)
Me: Hey, could you stop throwing that ball?
Him: (totally ignoring me, or maybe not hearing me)
Me: Koby!
Him: Yeah?
Me: Can you stop throwing that ball in the house? I don't want it to hit the light fixture.
Him: Yeah. (Does it three or four more times, slowly. Or does it for thirty more seconds. If I say nothing, he then usually stops. If I say something, he gets all defensive about how "It was just a couple more times, Mommy! Why are you making such a big deal out of it??")

This has been going on for a little while now, and I'd chalked it up to "normal teen," and since we have a pretty good but careful relationship right now, and since this is my first teenager, I didn't want to pick on what is a relatively small issue. After all, he does stop eventually. But then, sometimes ten seconds after I asked him to stop, his little sister is screaming or the pantry door is broken, because he hasn't gotten around to deciding to stop yet.

I feel like I'm parenting my younger kids well, and with them I would totally step in and tell them that I'm going to take this seriously from now on because it's important to me that they stop the first time I say something to them. And then if they didn't listen, there would either be a consequence or a serious discussion, depending on the kid. It would then stop after a few days, or maybe a week, and I'd feel like I'd taught them something.

Before he hit adolescence, we had that down pat, and he was pretty respectful. But I feel like now that he's a teenager, maybe he's supposed to be doing this? He's showing that he's independent? But it feels so disrespectful! Like, I would never ignore my husband's request for me to stop doing something, even just for "a few more times" or "one more minute." I've already told him that, and we've discussed that AFTER he stops, he can ask me something like "Can I do it just one more time?" or "Can I do it this way instead of that way?" But that's not the point. He doesn't mind stopping, just wants to do it on his own terms.

Situation 2: The opposite. I ask him TO do X. (Take a shower for Shabbos after he's already said he wants to go next, get his shoes on so we can go to a doctor's appointment, put away something he left lying around.)
Me: Okay, we're running a little late for the appointment but should be able to get there on time if we leave right away. Can you grab your shoes and meet me at the car?
Him: (ignores me. If I do not check that he's heard me, he'll say he didn't hear me -- as I know from experience)
Me: Hey, Koby?
Him: Yeah?
Me: Can you get your shoes on? We've got to leave right now, or we'll be late!
Him: Grunt. (And then sits there. And sits there.)
Me: We've got to go NOW, Koby!
Him: I was coming! WHy do you always get so mad at me?
(Still sits there. Half gets up and it turns out he was just moving around on the couch. Etc....If I leave him alone, he will eventually get up, most of the time. Unless he forgets. But it could take him up to 5 minutes. Again, just seems so disrespectful...but maybe it's normal for teenagers?)

Note that it doesn't matter if he's actually busy with something -- in the middle of a book, for example -- or if he was just sitting and having a conversation with me and doesn't seem to be "busy" at all.

Is letting this go just asking him to amp up the chutzpah? Or is making a big deal out of it just sacrificing our relationship for "immediate obedience"? I have a slightly younger teen with a totally different personality who doesn't do this at all. He may roll his eyes and not want to listen, but then he either does it anyway in a normal amount of time, or he says "Mommy, can I do X first?" or "Can I do it in a few minutes?" or something like that, which I find a very respectful way of saying no.

Curious about what other, more experienced moms of teenagers think.
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amother




Peach
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:10 pm
I can't answer if how you're handling it is right or wrong, but I can tell you that you just described my 14 yo DS in such perfect detail I'd think you were a fly in my house
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behappy2




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:11 pm
To me it seems like his way of asserting himself. He doesn't feel comfortable to outright defy you but he doesn't want to feel controlled by you either.

No advice. Just what I think may be happening for him.
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amother




Begonia
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:13 pm
I don’t have teenagers but I just want to say this is one of the most well thought out posts I’ve seen on this site in a while. You must be a really good mother!
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BrisketBoss




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:27 pm
I don't have a teenager but I was recentlyish a teenager and sometimes I still feel like I am one.

The ball thing does sound like he is trying to assert his own power. Teenage years are somewhat analogous to toddler years.

The shoe thing sounds similar. "Ok, I'll do it, but on my terms. This is something that's important to you, not to me. What authority do you have over my actions?"

It also sounds to me like he is testing to see if he can make his own decision. If he doesn't do what you say, will you try to make him? If so, he must resist. I also feel like the shoe thing might have been one of those "I was gonna, but then I was told to, so now I'm not gonna" situations.

I'm having trouble formulating good advice. But I think in the ideal scenario, you aren't getting mad at him. Like with the shoe one, you could say "We're a little late. I'm going to the car. See you there!" and leave. He will probably get there soon because there's nothing to push against. At least, I think he would get there no slower than in the other scenario, and this way there's less tension.

Of course, try to connect with him in general. A favorite with teenage boys is the car ride because they can talk without making eye contact with you.

You have very good instincts not to make a big deal of it. Productive outcomes can come from having friendly discussions at a separate time, but punishing or yelling or even a calm lecture at the time of conflict does nothing except add disconnection. The child or teen is just not in a place where they're going to listen to you. (plus with the thing you said about letting him know it's not acceptable--I think he already knows!)

So basically I don't think you should do either--correcting at the time of chutzpah or ignoring in general. You should think about how to make those interactions go more smoothly and you should seek feedback from your teen at a different moment. Maybe he'll have ideas if you get him thinking critically about it. He probably isn't quite enjoying these interactions either.

Always remember, you can't get grandchildren unless you allow your teenagers to live. Wink
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amother




OP
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:38 pm
amother [ Begonia ] wrote:
I don’t have teenagers but I just want to say this is one of the most well thought out posts I’ve seen on this site in a while. You must be a really good mother!


Ugh, I'm glad you think so. We just had an argument and I really need advice on how to handle this because it just isn't working....

He came home from maariv and is supposed to come home and go straight into the shower so he can take his time (his preference) and then have time to read for a while in bed before he goes to sleep (again, his preference). I tried not to rush him, but after a good ten minutes of conversation I finally said "Okay, it's really time to start getting ready now" and he of course ignored me and continued talking (to his brother, who was also supposed to be getting ready). So I got his attention and told him again, and he said "Just one more question!" And then started asking the question. I cut him off and said, "Just ONE question, and he answers, and then...?" And he said "Yeah, fine, and then I'll go get ready to take a shower. Right away? Fine??" And I said sure. So he asked him "What was the name of the kid who was at shacharis next to you today? I thought I recognized him..." And his brother says the kid's name. And he says back, "Really? What does he look like? Does he have glasses? Does he...?" And I say "Hey, remember, you said one question?" And he just exploded at me. And I defended myself by saying again and again "You said one question. I said fine, as long as you went to shower right afterwards. You asked, he answered, and now it's time to take a shower."

In the end, I got really upset that he was continuing to say how awful it all was, and I said "Fine, I guess that next time you ask for 'just one more question' or 'just one more minute,' I should say no?" And he started arguing again, so I said, "Okay, I'll keep this in mind next time you ask for 'just one more.' I like to say yes when you guys ask for something like that, but only if you can stick to your end of the deal."

And then he marched out of the room to get his shower stuff, and I came on here and saw this response.

I definitely don't feel like a great parent. Do all parents of teens feel like this? Or do they get immune to it? Or do they respond differently, once they know how to deal with teens? I feel so clueless. I finally don't feel clueless with my younger kids, like I learned techniques that help me teach them without ruining my relationship with them. But this whole teenage thing is really throwing me for a loop. I need advice. Please!!!
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amother




Garnet
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:38 pm
Maybe I'm totally off base but as someone with inattentive adhd this can be common with someone who has problems regulating attention. People misinterpret adhd to mean people can't focus attention, but it's actually that we have challenges regulating attention. That means sometimes we can hyperfocus and unintentionally tune people out, and it's possible he really doesn't "hear" you at first because he's in a zone. Both examples you gave are of him not listening. Inattentive adhd presents different from hyperactive adhd so it can be missed.
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amother




Gardenia
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:43 pm
The ball thing is soooo normal, I would just say, "thank you for listening to me, I really appreciate it" cause really he did listen to you and maybe next time he'll listen a drop quicker
Second situation is exactly exactly my 15yr old. I call him to eat supper and he says I'm coming and is just sitting on the couch...l get annoyed but it's really a test of our patience.
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BrisketBoss




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:43 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
I definitely don't feel like a great parent. Do all parents of teens feel like this? Or do they get immune to it? Or do they respond differently, once they know how to deal with teens? I feel so clueless. I finally don't feel clueless with my younger kids, like I learned techniques that help me teach them without ruining my relationship with them. But this whole teenage thing is really throwing me for a loop. I need advice. Please!!!


I'm sure it's not like this in every family but honestly I've never seen a family where the parents never get in these kinds of conflicts with teens. Even good parents whose advice is sought after, who are raising their fifth teenager. I hope that makes you feel better!
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amother




Garnet
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:47 pm
I cross posted with your last response but that also rings familiar to me. Someone with adhd has difficulty regulating their attention so when he was in a conversation and you were trying to pull him out of it, he didn't know how to regulate himself away and end the convo. He's hyperfocused on whatever he's in middle of doing. You coming in the middle is very very irritating to someone in that mode who lacks the skills to peel away.

Emotional dysregulation is also a big part of adhd so then he goes from not being able to get out of the convo he's in middle of to exploding at you.

I'm not saying he has this, but I'm saying that as someone with inattentive adhd this is very familiar to me. If this is what's going on (and not some other issues) it would be super helpful to him to be evaluated and learn skills how to deal with this while still young. Often these things get presented to adhd kids as moral failures and can be damaging to their self esteem. And kids don't have the understanding or vocabulary to explain or understand what's going on. They may actually feel like they're failing morally and don't know how to fix it and it can impact their self esteem.

By the way, regardless of what he's dealing with, you might find The Explosive Child helpful.
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amother




OP
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:48 pm
behappy2 wrote:
To me it seems like his way of asserting himself. He doesn't feel comfortable to outright defy you but he doesn't want to feel controlled by you either.

No advice. Just what I think may be happening for him.


I know. I totally get it. He doesn't want me micromanaging him.

And honestly? I don't micromanage the stuff that I know he'll do on his own. I really try hard to let my kids do things themselves. Like he wakes up from his own alarm in the morning, and if he doesn't make it out on time, he's stuck going late in his little brother's carpool after a rushed shacharis (which he doesn't like). This happened like twice, and then never again.

But like Brisketboss alluded to, there are times that _I_ need him to do something, but he has no need to do it. Those are the times that this happens the most. Like if he were a little kid, I would expect him to respond with obedience because I'm his mother. If he were an adult, I would expect him to respond the same way, not because of obedience, but because of common courtesy. You don't ignore the person or grunt "fine" but then sit around until they remind you again...

I know. I know that the answer is not to get frustrated with him. My husband (who has a great relationship with him) said that he plans to talk to him about it. Recently, when I try to talk to him about anything, he shuts down and rolls his eyes and just keeps saying "Are we done yet?" even if I'm just trying to see things from his perspective, problem solve with him...

Argh.
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BrisketBoss




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:53 pm
amother [ OP ] wrote:
But like Brisketboss alluded to, there are times that _I_ need him to do something, but he has no need to do it. Those are the times that this happens the most. Like if he were a little kid, I would expect him to respond with obedience because I'm his mother. If he were an adult, I would expect him to respond the same way, not because of obedience, but because of common courtesy. You don't ignore the person or grunt "fine" but then sit around until they remind you again...


The transition from obedience to common courtesy is not always smooth or clear. These days, we parents are not advised to expect obedience. We are advised to stimulate cooperation. Using our physical strength to enforce what needs to be enforced for little kids, and relying on our strong, trust-based relationship to invite cooperation when they're older.

You sound like a great mother, by the way.
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oneofakind




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 7:56 pm
Sounds very normal. You don't want it to turn into a power struggle so say your piece and leave. If he is doing something that will become dangerous or destructive, get his attention and say , "I'm afraid xyz will happen so please stop." If he doesn't listen and he breaks something or hurt his sib, he needs to pay or a consequence. Everything else, let go.
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amother




Firebrick
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 8:20 pm
amother [ Peach ] wrote:
I can't answer if how you're handling it is right or wrong, but I can tell you that you just described my 14 yo DS in such perfect detail I'd think you were a fly in my house

Me tooooo LOL
It's crazymaking.
Honestly I have a three-year-old as well and I find myself using the same techniques on both of them! Sometimes I just think "what would I do if DD3 was doing this?" That mindset shift can help.
And I remember my cousin's joke. Why did the teenager cross the road? Because his mother told him not to Very Happy
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dankbar




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 8:54 pm
He is trying to assert his independence.

Don't tell him get your shoes, because we are running late, that is like infantilizing him.

Tell him, if you want me to take you to the doctor, then we will have leave at 1 to get there for 1:30. Make sure to be ready then, then I can take you.
Don't remind him again. If he is ready then, you can take him if not don't take him.
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amother




Moccasin
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 8:56 pm
.
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DustyDiamonds




 
 
 
 

Post Mon, Jun 27 2022, 9:29 pm
OP you sound like a wonderful and very self-aware mother!

I remember when my third child was about 8 and learning mishnayas. My nephew was 7 and learning a similar thing in another town, and we were together for Shabbos. My BIL was testing his 7 year old (who was his oldest) with focus and pressure that I’d scarcely use for my oldest, who was a teen!

Moral of the above: everyone expects more from the oldest. Even God realizes that we put unrealistic pressure on them, and gives them a double inheritance!

Relax!

He clearly dislikes being told what to do. I have a kid like this. He is older than 14, and I see that he’s doing SO MUC BETTER in his current Yeshiva than the prior one, precisely because they do not micro manage the kids!

Does my son go to bed too late and miss shacharis sometimes? I’m certain the answer is yes. (He’s in a dorm and we don’t ask him). So what? He feels good about himself, is learning well, exploring cool hobbies/jobs well, and is happy and relaxed most of the time! In the prior Yeshiva, he was stressed and getting into detailed power struggles with the staff.

He’s 14. If it’s not his doctor appointment, tell him, as you grab the keys, “I’m leaving now, if you want to come along, get in the car within a minute״. If it is his doctor’s appointment, perhaps you can say “Yitzy, we’re leaving to the doctor in a minute, I’m going out to get the car cooled off for you” and then honk if he doesn’t come. Telling him to put on his shoes is treating him like an elementary school kid; and he is pushing back.

I do a lot of distraction that works very well most of the time. If he’s roughhousing with the 3 year old sister, maybe you can say, “Yitzy, let’s calm down and take a deep breathe, it’s too wild for her. Sarah, come look what I found for you! It’s purple, your favorite color!” And I’d quickly search Google images for a purple unicorn, or whatever would pique her interest. I’d also try to distract DS and ask “Yitzy, I’m making a supermarket list. What would you like for Shabbos dessert this week, the regular, or something different? I saw these cool chocolate ice cream squares that are expensive, but it’s Shabbos Mevorchim, so I think we should get an extra special thing…”

I’d avoid sending him upstairs to shower, unless bedtime becomes very problematic. He is resisting being treated as a little kid. In the situation where he and his brother continued with their chatting/questions, I would do my best to avoid a power struggle. I might mention again that it’s a good time to shower and then exit the room, so he doesn’t feel like I’m micromanaging his every step and each moment of his day.

With the ball bouncing, I’d try to inject something fun, perhaps get a pool net and “catch” the ball from him in a humorous way, maybe excitedly saying “score for Mommy!” and go outside and bounce it in a permitted area, hand it off to him, and say “I appreciate you playing ball outdoors sweetie”

Deep breathes. Teens are CHALLENGING!
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amother




Plum
 

Post Tue, Jun 28 2022, 11:13 am
dankbar wrote:
He is trying to assert his independence.

Don't tell him get your shoes, because we are running late, that is like infantilizing him.

Tell him, if you want me to take you to the doctor, then we will have leave at 1 to get there for 1:30. Make sure to be ready then, then I can take you.
Don't remind him again. If he is ready then, you can take him if not don't take him.


Great advice. The less said the better. They know they have to be ready.
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imaima




 
 
 
 

Post Tue, Jun 28 2022, 11:29 am
amother [ OP ] wrote:
My 14 year old son has been really getting on my nerves recently, and I think I have two ways to respond at this point. I can either decide that what he's been doing is chutzpah and I need to really come down hard on him each time it happens ("hard" doesn't mean major punishments or anything, it means calling it out as disrespectful and speaking in a harsh voice to let him know it's not acceptable), or I can tell myself it's just normal teenage stuff and completely ignore it. My middle ground, of trying to ignore it until I feel too resentful and then exploding with frustration and giving him an angry lecture that he doesn't listen to, needs to stop.

Situation 1: I tell him to stop doing X. (Playing too roughly with his young sibling in a way that he WILL hurt her -- and has before -- because he doesn't realize his strength. Or throwing a ball against a wall near a light fixture, which is against house rules. Or playing with some part of the house in a way that makes me nervous it will break, like swinging my pantry door really hard against its hinges. Just a few examples.)
Me: Hey, could you stop throwing that ball?
Him: (totally ignoring me, or maybe not hearing me)
Me: Koby!
Him: Yeah?
Me: Can you stop throwing that ball in the house? I don't want it to hit the light fixture.
Him: Yeah. (Does it three or four more times, slowly. Or does it for thirty more seconds. If I say nothing, he then usually stops. If I say something, he gets all defensive about how "It was just a couple more times, Mommy! Why are you making such a big deal out of it??")

This has been going on for a little while now, and I'd chalked it up to "normal teen," and since we have a pretty good but careful relationship right now, and since this is my first teenager, I didn't want to pick on what is a relatively small issue. After all, he does stop eventually. But then, sometimes ten seconds after I asked him to stop, his little sister is screaming or the pantry door is broken, because he hasn't gotten around to deciding to stop yet.

I feel like I'm parenting my younger kids well, and with them I would totally step in and tell them that I'm going to take this seriously from now on because it's important to me that they stop the first time I say something to them. And then if they didn't listen, there would either be a consequence or a serious discussion, depending on the kid. It would then stop after a few days, or maybe a week, and I'd feel like I'd taught them something.

Before he hit adolescence, we had that down pat, and he was pretty respectful. But I feel like now that he's a teenager, maybe he's supposed to be doing this? He's showing that he's independent? But it feels so disrespectful! Like, I would never ignore my husband's request for me to stop doing something, even just for "a few more times" or "one more minute." I've already told him that, and we've discussed that AFTER he stops, he can ask me something like "Can I do it just one more time?" or "Can I do it this way instead of that way?" But that's not the point. He doesn't mind stopping, just wants to do it on his own terms.

Situation 2: The opposite. I ask him TO do X. (Take a shower for Shabbos after he's already said he wants to go next, get his shoes on so we can go to a doctor's appointment, put away something he left lying around.)
Me: Okay, we're running a little late for the appointment but should be able to get there on time if we leave right away. Can you grab your shoes and meet me at the car?
Him: (ignores me. If I do not check that he's heard me, he'll say he didn't hear me -- as I know from experience)
Me: Hey, Koby?
Him: Yeah?
Me: Can you get your shoes on? We've got to leave right now, or we'll be late!
Him: Grunt. (And then sits there. And sits there.)
Me: We've got to go NOW, Koby!
Him: I was coming! WHy do you always get so mad at me?
(Still sits there. Half gets up and it turns out he was just moving around on the couch. Etc....If I leave him alone, he will eventually get up, most of the time. Unless he forgets. But it could take him up to 5 minutes. Again, just seems so disrespectful...but maybe it's normal for teenagers?)

Note that it doesn't matter if he's actually busy with something -- in the middle of a book, for example -- or if he was just sitting and having a conversation with me and doesn't seem to be "busy" at all.

Is letting this go just asking him to amp up the chutzpah? Or is making a big deal out of it just sacrificing our relationship for "immediate obedience"? I have a slightly younger teen with a totally different personality who doesn't do this at all. He may roll his eyes and not want to listen, but then he either does it anyway in a normal amount of time, or he says "Mommy, can I do X first?" or "Can I do it in a few minutes?" or something like that, which I find a very respectful way of saying no.

Curious about what other, more experienced moms of teenagers think.


It is typical teenage way of trying to preserve some independence. He generally listens but he wants to do it on his terms at least a little bit.
So yes he obeys but not right away. If putting on shoes them veeery slooowly
If stopping an activity then a minute later but not right away.
I would tolerate unless another person (sibling) is involved.
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imaima




 
 
 
 

Post Tue, Jun 28 2022, 11:34 am
amother [ OP ] wrote:
Ugh, I'm glad you think so. We just had an argument and I really need advice on how to handle this because it just isn't working....

He came home from maariv and is supposed to come home and go straight into the shower so he can take his time (his preference) and then have time to read for a while in bed before he goes to sleep (again, his preference). I tried not to rush him, but after a good ten minutes of conversation I finally said "Okay, it's really time to start getting ready now" and he of course ignored me and continued talking (to his brother, who was also supposed to be getting ready). So I got his attention and told him again, and he said "Just one more question!" And then started asking the question. I cut him off and said, "Just ONE question, and he answers, and then...?" And he said "Yeah, fine, and then I'll go get ready to take a shower. Right away? Fine??" And I said sure. So he asked him "What was the name of the kid who was at shacharis next to you today? I thought I recognized him..." And his brother says the kid's name. And he says back, "Really? What does he look like? Does he have glasses? Does he...?" And I say "Hey, remember, you said one question?" And he just exploded at me. And I defended myself by saying again and again "You said one question. I said fine, as long as you went to shower right afterwards. You asked, he answered, and now it's time to take a shower."

In the end, I got really upset that he was continuing to say how awful it all was, and I said "Fine, I guess that next time you ask for 'just one more question' or 'just one more minute,' I should say no?" And he started arguing again, so I said, "Okay, I'll keep this in mind next time you ask for 'just one more.' I like to say yes when you guys ask for something like that, but only if you can stick to your end of the deal."

And then he marched out of the room to get his shower stuff, and I came on here and saw this response.

I definitely don't feel like a great parent. Do all parents of teens feel like this? Or do they get immune to it? Or do they respond differently, once they know how to deal with teens? I feel so clueless. I finally don't feel clueless with my younger kids, like I learned techniques that help me teach them without ruining my relationship with them. But this whole teenage thing is really throwing me for a loop. I need advice. Please!!!


Natural consequence?

Let him ask all the questions but then no reading in bed?
Or, continue talking to the other kid instead so he has noone to talk to. Like:

Koby: Did he wear glasses?
Mom: Kid B, are you ready for bed (ignore Koby).
Kid B: Not yet.
Mom: Then go get yourself ready it’s late.
Kid B leaves. Koby has nothing left to do other than taking his shower
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