Sunday, November 30, 2008

Teens & That Parental Chant: "It's Almost Over"

Before you leave for work I want to know what your plans are for the week. Make it a list of goals for the week. Get that list on my desk by 10:30.
I'm going to do the research paper that's due in my English class this week, I am going to write my TaeKwonDo paper.
Those are your plans for the week?
You know in the working world they'd expect about 40 hours and if you were in a public high school you would be expected to participate in school activities at least for 30 hours -at least I think that's an accurate number.
So those two papers are going to take 30 to 40 hours to do?
Please sit down and consider what your plans are for the week and write them down in a list. You have not been meeting some of the goals you set earlier this year and you need to get back on track. We're going to do that with a to-do list, one that we can put check marks on. Get that list on my desk by 10:30.
Where's that list?
I'm not going to write down a list.
I have decided my work for school is stupid, I don't like it and I am not going to do it.
(This from my 16 year old).
This is the work you and I determined together that you need to do to complete your high school work so you can apply to the college you want to go to. Why is it now stupid?
OK. It's not stupid it's boring.
Boring compared to what?
Everything else.
Like what?
Like my pod casts, my news forums, you know life.
OK. Here's a thought for you. Life becomes boring if your education falls behind your experiences. Education makes life more interesting because you can delve into your pod casts and news forums further with a better understanding of the nuances.
And here's another thought for you, if you're not happy about things, then it's your job to change things. There's a little thing Mahatma Gandhi used to say and that is “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
I don't like your little zingers.
What zinger?
The Gandhi thing.
Comes with education. Do the list.
I'm not writing down a to-do list.
OK. Fine. Adults make plans, children get things taken away. If you do not have a plan for the week committed to paper before you go to work, you are going to need to walk to work or ride your bike, you are not taking the car - and in case you haven't noticed it's about to snow.
It actually wasn't a bad list, especially after we added approximate hours for each task.

The power struggles you have with a gifted kid as a kid were always complex, but when you're dealing with a gifted teen, they are complex and have become downright tiring. I think in dealing with any teen there are many words that run through a parent's mind, sometimes the words are of the four letter variety type and other times they have some more syllables.

Sometimes I let the word narcissist run through my head. When we think of the word "narcissism" we tie that word to other words like "selfish", "self centered", "arrogant", "me-me-me".

According to the Urban Dictionary "Narcissistic people are not self centered there is a difference."

I don't know how accurate the Urban Dictionary is, but it is fun to read the stuff, however in the book: Misdiagnosis And Dual Diagnoses Of Gifted Children And Adults: ADHD, Bipolar, OCD, Asperger's, Depression, And Other Disorders by James T. Webb, (and others), they go into narcissism and many other "disorders" a parent may worry about, or at least let their mind wander to with a gifted kid. They can be so damn frustrating some days these brilliant ones. But as the title of the book suggests that the gifted are often misdiagnosed with a a whole slew of issues - even by their parents! I have read most of this book as I have had my concerns with the giftedness and... thing in the past but probably the best line of advice one can take away from the read of this book is a beautiful sentence in chapter 9, Relationships Issues for Gifted Children and Adults in the section entitled Parent/Child manipulation:
Though all children manipulate, gifted children are far more skilled at it than others. They are able to make their rationale for a forbidden behavior sound completely reasonable.
Yep. Especially as teens.

In getting back to the Gandhi thing, as a parent of an extremely "smart" kid, it is hard not to see the immense potential and the possibilities, especially as a parent close to the age of 50. With that vision, it is very frustrating and sometimes heart breaking when these kinds of kids intentionally go astray from the goals they say they want to achieve. We live in a me-culture that can be very distracting to any kid and imagine what the gifted kid sees. As a parent, it is important to remember that though these kids are very intelligent and it might seem they can be "left alone", they are still young adults who need parents to reel them in with things like organized to-do lists. I used to believe that teens were made in this way so that we're happy to have them go off to college and in my mind I keep telling myself it will be over soon (when my student goes to college), but a friend recently reminded me with the question - Do you really think that your role will be reduced when he goes off to college - in this world?

Pearls offered by the College Board:

Motivating the Unmotivated Student

Managing Procrastination


christinethecurious said...

My oldest is 11. Yesterday he glared at me for pointing out a spelling error in a sentence dictation (we are trying out some Charlotte Mason ideas to see if we can get his composition skills more independent - I see myself becoming his perminent amanuosis otherwise, and you can see that my vocabulary outruns my spelling skills too) I can see my life running on similar lines very soon as your post very soon.

Just wondering, when you have these talks, what effect does quotes from the book of Proverbs have? Does it help to tell stories from your life about times you had to persevere through boredom? Do biographies help? Where do you personally get the breath to control yourself when you have these talks and not say the Narcisist word? What do you think of the book "Age of Oportunity' by Paul David Trip?

I've recently read the misdiagnosis book too: I thought the author's moral relativism was disturbing, although the book was well done and helpful.

I guess what it comes down to is parenting is not like visiting a niece or nephew, it's complex, hard and rewarding, but not always easy and fun. I tend to think I'm failing if things don't come easily, and yet few important things do.

-Christine Guest

LivingByLearning said...

Lovely! Can't tell you just how thrilled I am to discover that the whole negotiation thing keeps getting better and better.

Today, it was histrionics worthy of the stage, with wailing screams and flying phones. Why? All because I insisted on a rewrite of 7 sentences.

He's nine years old.

Keeley said...

Wonderful post! I read your conversation and you could have lifted it straight from ones I've had with the teens in our house. =D

I'm thinking "It's almost over" in regards to my 18 year old who will be in College come June or July. And while that's's also going to be pretty dang sad to see her go.

I'm thinking "Keep breathing, still another 4 years" with my 13-year old who is right in the middle of the "arguing for the sake of it and driving me up the WALL" years.

I'm thinking "It's nowhere near over" with my 3-year old. But that's ok, because with him life's so fresh and wonderful and exciting and I'm the Magic Mommy who can do all things.

I think every household with a teenager should also have a 3 year old just to keep you from going insane.

Becki said...

I can't believe my timing. Just popped in after months of not (popping in) and I read exactly what I needed to read!

We've been pretty relaxed in our homeschooling approach, and while it works to some extent, I have been growing uncomfortable over a lack of goal setting around here. We've had plenty of "pep talks", but you've given new inspiration. I actually think it might go pretty well. I hope.

Anyway, great essay. Thanks a bunch!