This post: My Teen’s Moods Felt Like a Rejection Until I Realized They Had Little to Do With Me
Written by: Carol Moore
I had to get really brave when my teen’s mood and body language felt like rejection… like somehow I was being rejected. This brought up a lot of my own personal stuff, and if I responded from those unhealed places, it just made everything worse.
When I learned to accept that his mood or attitude had very little, if anything, to do with me, I found I could be the sturdy place of love that he needed. Otherwise, I was just adding to the drama. And, one thing I know for certain, teens don’t need more drama.
My Teen’s Moods Felt Like a Rejection… Until I Realized They Had Little to Do With Me
This took years for me to learn, and if I’m being honest, it’s still something that I have to consciously work on. I was born with a sensitive and responsive heart, and when combined with the big feelings, attitudes, and emotions of my own children, well, it’s a lot.
I took my teens’ moods, behavior, and body language to heart…
I was pretty good at letting my boys’ assortment of moods bounce off of my heart when they were little. But when they entered their teen years and our eyes met at the same level, it got a lot harder.
My boys were busy – they had hard classes in school and were always playing on a sports team. They got part-time jobs when they could, and had full social lives. They were on their phones a lot, gaming a lot, and always seemed to be running late or scrambling to get to the next thing. These were the things I saw on the surface, and they all seemed pretty normal to me. Busy, but normal.
Of course, there were the typical tempers and attitudes flying around our household that seem to happen during the teen transformational years. I understood the hormonal changes they were going through and I offered plenty of grace when I could. But I often felt this pang of hurt during the lopsided exchanges we were having.
There was a divide between what I was giving and what I was receiving…
I felt like I was approaching my boys with love, support, wisdom, and guidance. I felt like they were responding to me with annoyance, aggravation, frustration, and even dislike – of me.
I was feeling hurt and I couldn’t make sense of what was happening. I was definitely taking their responses personally, and when I would confront them, it just seemed to make everything worse.
I think at some point, many moms might ask themselves, “Why am I trying so hard to do everything for my child if they don’t appreciate me?”
“How come when all I do is love them and make sacrifices for them, they don’t seem to even like me?”
“How do I keep entering into this difficult process without getting my heart crushed, and how am I supposed to hold all of my own feelings together?”
I know I asked myself these questions many times. There were days I felt so dejected, I thought my heart would just shatter.
But then, one of my sons shared a story with me…
One afternoon on a long car ride home from practice, my son shared a story with me that changed my perspective on everything.
He said, “Mom, you have no idea how hard everything is for me.” (I had been thinking that his life was pretty perfect – definitely manageable).
He said, “There’s so much pressure you can’t even see. Homework is impossible – I hardly have time to get it done with the time I have. Soccer practice is fun and I love it, but it’s physically exhausting. And then there are cliques, girls, gossip, and the weight of social media – and then you and Dad expect stuff from me. You just have no idea how much is going on.”
Wow… I really hadn’t considered the weight of everything he was carrying.
I realized in that very moment that the way he had been responding to me had nothing to do with me at all, and everything to do with him trying to hold everything together himself.
It was after this revelation that I began to learn to be the sturdy place of love that he needed instead of making life more difficult for both of us with my emotional entanglement.
Once I accepted and really believed that all (or most, anyway) of his teen angst was all part of the process of transitioning from being a child to an adult, it freed us both.
My role wasn’t to be buddies with my teen, but rather to be a healthy and firm foundation from which he could waiver and fail and move through his messy journey to adulthood safely.
That didn’t mean I was giving him the green light to be mean or disrespectful toward me – it meant that I could now allow him to feel his feelings without them affecting mine so much. It meant that, while I am still a feeling human being, I don’t have to feed or contribute in any way to the drama.
If the situation arose, I would tell him that his words or actions hurt me, but that was rarely necessary, especially after I accepted the mountain he was trying to climb to reach adulthood and came to terms with the fact that his moods, behavior, and attitude had very little, if anything, to do with me.
We carry our past with us as parents…
As moms, we bring our past into our relationship with our kids – it’s impossible not to because it’s simply part of who we are. All of us were wounded in some way or another in our lifetime, and most of us likely never healed those places in our hearts.
Thus, when our teens begin to stretch their independence and wander away from us, even in all of the normal and natural ways, it can bring up some of our old hurts. I don’t think we’re truly aware that it’s even happening. When our teens are inadvertently hurting us, we immediately look to them to correct their behavior to prevent it from happening to us.
But what if we recognized that what our teens are experiencing and how they’re behaving isn’t personal to us? What if we allowed them the space, grace, and freedom to get through their complex transformation without getting our hearts all tangled up in the process?
Once I was able to see that some of my teens’ postures were triggering the unhealed places in my heart, I began to work on myself. It no longer felt like rejection – like he was rejecting me, and it became possible to allow him to just be himself. Perhaps a lot of the difficulty we encounter during our kids’ teen years is less because of them, and more because of us.
About Carol Moore:
Carol is a certified Coach, Parenting Teens Advocate, and author of Bridges Not Barriers – The Art of Building a Better Connection with Your Teen. She is also a designated Global Presence Ambassador for Parenting 2.0, a non-profit organization recognized around the globe for the Life Skills educational process. With 15 years of experience working with young children and their families, and having raised two teens of her own, she has a passion for sharing her knowledge in raising teens with grace, compassion, honesty, and trust. Follow Carol on Instagram and check out her book here: BRIDGES Not BARRIERS: The Art of Building a Better Connection with Your Teen