My 11 year old had been asking for a couple of weeks for me to set up a play date with his friend. Since we were taking the week of Thanksgiving off of school, I set it up for Monday morning.
Sunday night, he and his sister were having trouble behaving at bedtime after promising they would be good. I told them there would be consequences, maybe including shortening the play date the next day.
11 year old: “OK, let’s just skip the play date then.”
Me: “Skip it? Why do you say that? Don’t you want to go?”
11 yo: “No, I don’t want to go.”
Me: “What do you mean you don’t want to go? You’ve been bugging me for weeks to set this up!”
11 yo: “Well, I need a break.”
Me: “A break? You’ve been off school since Thursday afternoon. You need a break from what? A play date is a break!”
I was furious. Really? After all that bugging to set this up, he don’t want to go?
We ended up going in order not to punish everyone else in the family who also wanted to go (myself included). He had a great time and said that it was too short. OK… The day before he didn’t want to go. I can’t keep up!
Then there was the complaining. My friend got a dog and why aren’t we getting a dog, and why do you say they’re so much work? What work is involved with a dog? And this weather isn’t bad (freezing rain turning to snow and rapidly dropping temps). You call this bad weather, Mom? If the play date is only going to be five minutes (try 3 hours) then why bother doing it at all…
He’s normally a very sweet, compliant, congenial kid. Really, he is. These days, his moods are pretty near impossible to keep up with, and I find myself riding the roller coaster with him. It bothers me when he’s so illogical, so I get angry and the whole thing escalates into a shouting match.
So, after being ashamed at my own loss of emotional control, I came to a conclusion. It is neither within my ability nor my job description to control or manage his emotions. Couldn’t do it if I tried. He’s entering hormone-ville, anyway. It’s going to happen. He’s going to be illogical and his moods are going to shift faster than the weather in Wisconsin. I’m a natural people pleaser and I want him to be happy, but it just isn’t going to work.
The emotions I do have some control over and am responsible for are my own. I can choose, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to react calmly and patiently even when he’s illogical and moody. Trust me, I can’t do it by myself. I’ve tried. Then if he decides to be, well, a poop-head for lack of a better term, it doesn’t have to ruin my day. I certainly don’t need to relive adolescence by trying to keep up with his moods.
There are still consequences for acting disrespectful or rude, but my yelling and losing my temper don’t need to be included in those consequences.
How about you? If you have moody tweens or teens, do you have trouble keeping your cool when their emotions go haywire? How do you keep it under control?
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