Mrs. Sampson comes home from work. As she pulls into the driveway, she notices that the garbage can is still out and the newspapers are not in. She enters the house through an unlocked door.
The kitchen is a mess due to her son fixing himself a snack. She can tell what Todd has eaten, as every item, including bread, salami, cheese, mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup and pickles, remains on the counter.
She hears loud rock music blaring from a bedroom. She goes there and looks in. Todd is on the phone. She motions for him to turn down the deafening rock crescendo.
She rolls her eyes. The room looks like the aftermath of a tornado. The bathroom is even worse, but Mrs. Sampson has not seen that yet. She forces herself not to remark again that Todd has hair that is too long and that his clothes are strange.
She knows that Todd has not begun his homework; his books are still in his book bag even though he has been home for about two hours.
Mrs. Sampson can hold her words no longer and begins yelling at Todd about his irresponsible behaviors. She lists all her concerns: his lack of understanding for the family, his self-centeredness, his poor school performance, his hair, his clothes, his music, his friends, his curfew problem last weekend, and his attitude in general.
Todd, hearing this lecture for the umpteenth time, screams back at his mother and orders her out of the room.
Mrs. Sampson gets in a few more words. As she turns to walk out of the room, she informs Todd that he is grounded for two weeks!
Todd slams the door behind his mother and resumes his phone conservation with his friend who was listening in on the line during this confrontation.
Mrs. Sampson grumbles to herself.
Todd complains to his friend how they are not appreciated or understood.
I cannot begin to tell you how many parents of teens have related such episodes to me during my 30-plus years of counseling. Parents have even told me that it is as if some alien being has taken over the body that once belonged to their sweet little son or daughter.
The truth is that many times the methods that worked in raising young children just do not work well in dealing with teens. While you can shape the behavior of young children it is often a case of learning how to cope with teenage sons and daughters.
You can change things and make life at home smoother for your family. But you have to find the right methods and learn how to consistently use those methods.
Larry Waldman, Ph.D., psychologist and author, is one of the leading parenting and relationship authorities in the United States. To find out how to improve your family relationships, visit his web site at: http://www.the-relationship-doctor.com.