My daughter has been kidnapped by aliens.
I’m serious! I’m not sure where or when but at some point in time she was kidnapped by aliens, taken aboard the mother ship, and they either did something to her brain or they outright replaced her with this look-alike replica. I personally believe that they’ve replaced her with this replica. I can’t prove it but it looks exactly like her but acts nothing like she did!
Out of nowhere my nice, sweet, innocent, wants to play with me all the time daughter turned into a whiny, complaining, lazy, can’t-be-in-the-same-room-with-me-for-more-than-two-minutes alien.
I’ve watched this happen for over a decade to other kids and their families but until recently I had never experienced it firsthand. I remember sitting and talking with parents about things they might be able to do. I remember thinking that I sounded so smart and that when my kids hit their pre/teen years that they won’t behave like that because of my smartness.
Oooooohhhh how wrong I was!
I understand the physical, emotional, and developmental changes that are taking place during the tumultuous teen years but it still doesn’t make any difference when she starts to dig in her heels and assert her supposed independence. And the icing on the cake is that the aliens somehow taught her all of our buttons to push! I’m not sure how they figured them out but she has quickly turned into an expert pusher.
She used to be so easy to get along with and it was nothing for us to connect. It was just second nature; we never even used to think about having to connect with our daughter. But lately it’s become a struggle to do so. Even when she’s in a good mood it doesn’t take much for her to turn on the drama and then you can just forget about it.
So because I am how I am and do what I do I started doing some digging and I came across a great post from the Fuller Youth Institute, who works with families and helps bridge the gap between the teens and parents. They have great resources and do quite a bit in the research department. It allows parents to have a pulse on the generalities of today’s youth culture.
The post from November 7 was titled “Top Ten Ways Teenagers Want You to Connect with Them”. The article details some of the findings of a new national study of 1,860 15-year-olds in three cities across the United States. Here are the responses they found:
1. Look at us.
2. Spend time talking with us.
4. Be dependable
5. Show appreciation for what we do.
7. Show that you’re interested.
8. Laugh with us (and at yourself)
9. Ask us to help you.
10. Challenge us.
As I read through these I thought that this doesn’t seem too hard.
But as I looked a little bit more I realized how many of these I honestly fail at. I started thinking about all the times my daughter has tried to say or show me something and I looked at her with exasperation.
Or all the times that I overreacted to her whining.
Or all the times that I should have stopped to listen but didn’t.
Or all the times I should have put down my phone but didn’t.
Or all the times that I interrupted her to “prove my point”.
Or all the times that I ….
I looked through the list again and understood that none of them are hard but instead are intentional. Last week I wrote about an experience that I was able to use as a teachable moment to show my kids empathy. And it was a good moment but what about this kind of intentional living every day? How much more would my son and daughter glean from my wife and I if I started living intentionally when it comes to my kids?
What would happen if I started living this list out in my everyday life? If there’s one thing I’ve learned in 2012 it’s that life is short and we had better take advantage of every day that we are blessed with because there is no guarantee for a tomorrow. And if that is indeed the case, then I had best start living this out so that my daughter understands how much I truly adore her.
Now that I honestly think about it, maybe my daughter hasn’t been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with an extraordinarily advanced whiny cyborg. I think what’s happened is that my baby girl is turning into a young woman and that I had better learn how to communicate with the new her.
Or maybe she was kidnapped by aliens. That’s certainly easier to handle.