Nothing is straightforward when a parent talks with an adolescent. They suspiciously question everything.
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There is a line uttered by Faye Dunaway playing Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest" that has come to resonate in my mind almost daily since the moment my oldest son entered adolescence. Faye/Joan remarks, after yet another argument with her strong-willed daughter, "Why must everything be an argument?" While I certainly don't condone any of Miss Crawford's parenting techniques, I do find myself wondering the same thing whenever I find myself embroiled in a senseless, heated conversation with one of my two teenage sons.
Nothing, it seems, is straightforward when one is talking with an adolescent. No instructions, suggestions, harmless comments are without (to my children) sinister implications. If I tell one son to wear a coat, he'll ask "why?" in a suspicious tone that seems to suggest that what I'm really suggesting is that he wear one of my dresses to school. When I respond that he should wear a coat because it's 20 degrees outside and snowing, the coat goes on but not without a loud sigh, as if somehow I'm responsible for the weather.
When I ask my other son how he's doing in math or science or orchestra, he immediately becomes defensive. "Who have you been talking to?" he'll question. "Did you e-mail my teacher again?"
Now a less trusting mother might think her children are hiding something. I don't because, having e-mailed all their teachers, I know that they have nothing to hide. They simply no longer want to share the mundane details of their daily lives with me – their boring, intrusive, incredibly nosy mother – and they certainly aren't interested in my opinion or thoughts on anything – from what color it might be nice to paint their rooms to how the political race is shaping up.
This role reversal, from being the center of your children's universe to becoming a far-flung satellite, is not easy to take and is something that all new mothers should be warned about, preferably before they ever contemplate becoming pregnant.