Blast from the Past: Temperamental Teens

Once in a while, I stumble on one of those articles written for homeschoolers suggesting that there’s really no such thing as a teen.

The author usually goes on to say that the concept of a teen is a relatively recent development stemming from our modern culture, and that once upon a time children were able to transition into adulthood with little if any difficulty.

My reaction to this? Beans!

We’re on our third and fourth teenagers, and the journey of raising them from birth to adulthood has been nothing if not fascinating. All four differed tremendously in temperament, and yet all four definitely showed signs of becoming teens at the usual time.

Did we raise them all the same? No. It’s not possible. We’re not even the same parents today that we were ten or fifteen years ago, and we don’t do things the same way we used to. I like to think we’ve learned at least a couple of things in the process, and that they’re reflected in our parenting skills.

So we have four very different children, all homeschooled all the way through, and all from the same two parents. Yet each one exhibited signs of difficulty as they made that transition to adulthood.

There were the usual physical signs, of course—the whole puberty issue—and that’s normal. But it brings with it many emotional issues that are also normal, so when people write that there doesn’t need to be any turmoil during the teen years, I have to laugh. Hormones are dramatically changing, the body’s changes cause emotional responses… can there not be turmoil? As a woman of a certain age (ahem), I’m more aware than ever of how much damage hormones and physical changes can do to your peace of mind.

Then there’s the idea that it’s not normal for teens to rebel. I’m sorry, but it’s normal for humans of any age to rebel. It’s the result of sin in the world. God’s children, the Israelites, rebelled against Him repeatedly, as noted in the Old Testament of the Bible. If even God’s children rebel against Him, why would we be exempt from experiencing the rebellion of our own children?

I’m not saying that rebellion is good, but I do think writers who suggest teen rebellion is not natural are being a bit Pollyanna-ish, to say the least. Those who go one step farther by suggesting that homeschooling will prevent rebellion are naïve at best.

So what is the homeschooling parent to do when her once-adorable offspring reaches the age of 10 or 12 or 14 (it varies) and becomes an emotional powder keg? I offer some tips in my free special report, “Ten Tips for Coping with Temperamental Teens,” but my best advice is to avoid panic. No, you’re not a bad parent, and your child is not a bad seed. Some emotional upheaval is normal when a child begins that transition to adulthood. Just avoid over-reaction to your preteen or teen’s occasional odd behavior, and pray as hard as needed. My own experience has been that no matter what they were like as teens, they eventually become adults of whom you can be proud….even though they gave you some gray hair along the way.

(Originally posted 1/15/09. My kids are now in their 20s and 30s so their teen years are just memories now.)

16 thoughts on “Blast from the Past: Temperamental Teens

  1. My teen is 17 years old. she is in that transition stage. One min she is clingy and the next min, mom is unable to do anything correct. I remember thinking my parents were stupid till I reached 18 and moved out. Then I realized just how smart they were/are!! I will survive I know, but boy it can be tough. My son is 6 years old, and I am not looking forward to the teen years. He is a very active strong willed boy already. Sigh..

  2. Thank you so much for this perspective. You have blessed us with hope! My teens are bad just changing. It is wonderful to hear we aren’t the only ones that are experiencing this!

  3. Oh, darn it! I was really hoping to avoid that whole teenaged pitfall thing. And the gray hairs! My oldest is going to be 8 in March, and I sometimes quiver in fear as I think of him (and his 2 sisters) becoming teens. I’m already praying about it and for them. I wonder if homeschooling does cut out some of the behavior that we think as ‘normal’ in a teen. Certainly there are some behavioral changes (hormones are powerful things, after all!), but without having all the negative information bombarding them every day and the negative influences, perhaps those aren’t as bad? I read somewhere (don’t know where) that what we think of as ‘normal’ in our self-centered and rich society isn’t really the normal experience of teenhood around the world and in the past (far past, not recent). Oh, wait, I think it might have been the book “Raising Unselfish Children in a Self-Absorbed World”. (I haven’t read your link yet, so I don’t know if that was the author you are talking about). Any thoughts on that?

  4. Kristy, I find the clingy/critical thing to be way easier than the 24/7 critical thing, but that’s just me. As for your son, he might surprise you. Given enough (but not too much) independence, he may be your easiest, you never know.

    Gayle, you’re not the only ones….I think it’s the majority, really.

    KM, I wasn’t talking about a specific book but rather the general tone of several articles I’ve read over the years. I do agree with you that less negative info and influence makes a big difference; otoh, it’s hard to keep them away from all of that, even if they’re homeschooled. And of course they’ll still be faced with it after they leave home at whatever age, because the filth is just pervasive in our society.

    I also think that back when teens were kept busy helping to support their families on farms or by working and sharing their income with their families, they didn’t get into trouble as easily because they were too busy! So yes, a rich society is not good for teens, as we see today.

    Thanks, everyone, for stopping by 🙂

  5. I have a 17 yr old who uses her anger to keep her dad and I at bay. It works. She is the last at home and has been homeschooling since 6th grade (except for 1 semester her freshman year when she flunked all but one class). I can’t get her on a routine, she refuses, she does not drive. She only has a few friends and sees them very infrequently. She wastes a huge amount of time playing WOW and will do days where she rarely comes out of her room.
    Every time we start to talk with her about school or most things, she explodes. She accuses us of harassing her and says she is stressed out enough with out us bugging her. She insists she knows what to do and will do it – she doesn’t. She only got enough work done this past semester to gain a 1/2 credit. She is now on probation with her charter school and may not get to enroll for next year. I see no way out of this horrible routine she is in. She does work a small amount at our family business. But other than that she refuses to be responsible for anything. Anyone have suggestions?

  6. Tammy, it sounds to me like she might be depressed. Have you talked with her doctor about this? She needs to be out of her room and off the video games most of the time….doesn’t sound healthy. JMHO.

  7. Oh joy! With a 12 & 9 year old, we’re just at the beginning of the roller coaster ride. We get mood swings from the oldest and temper tantrums from the youngest. The challenge is holding on to our cool!

  8. You’re right, Sandra, it is a challenge, but it doesn’t go on all the time. There are peaks and valleys…..kind of like when they were little 😉

  9. THANK YOU for posting this! I have been baffled by some writer’s statements about teenagers not being teenagers years ago. Hormones still mess with their minds as their bodies are changing, and a little bit of rebellion (not the gun-toting, drug dealing type of course) is par for the course. It is part of the separation process that leads to adulthood. We have survived one teenaged daughter, and are in the midst of one son (17) and daughter (14) as well as a 17yo daughter who has mellowed out and loves her parents again. Parents just need to realize that as long as you are involved (homeschooling or not) and provide supervision (all the time!) your kids and you will get through it. Right now our 14yo is giving us some stress, but she’ll outgrow it. Having a teen that is going through difficulty doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent.

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  11. hey enjoy it all, and dont let anyone tell u u must be a bad parent and u have a bad child . i used to say i hate teens . i had three children , and then i was raising a grandchild , all was well till he became a teen , i dreaded it all , and said i hate teens , did i hate him no just the fact i hated the things that came along with teens , well in aug he died in a car crush , chersih the time letthem be teens love them realise if they make it to adults it will all pass ,

  12. I have 4 children, my oldest sons are 16 &15 and right now are giving me the blues. My 16 yr old has an overwhelming sense of entitlement and is really on the ups and downs. One minute, I’m “Mommy” (usually when he wants something) and other times he treats me like I’m some intrusive stranger. As for my 15 yr old, he’s always in trouble but it’s never his fault and he swears the world is against him. He is very defiant and acts as if he doesn’t care about anyone or anything. My 9 yr old is still throwing tantrums but that’s only at school, and of course it’s because of someone else…so he says!! I’m so frustrated. Then there is my daughter, she is only 1 but I can only imagine. As a single mother, I try my best and sometimes I feel as if my best isn’t good enough!! glad to know I’m not the only one, but I could really use some help.

  13. Sounds like you have your hands full, Lura! Our 4th child will turn 20 soon. No more teens in our home for the first time in 13 years! Please know that your boys will grow up! But it’s not easy, and as a single mom, you have it harder than most. I hope their dad is involved in their upbringing; if not, hoping you have found some responsible male role models for your boys (in your family or neighborhood, at church, etc.) Your sons need that male influence now more than ever. Good luck to you 🙂

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