You’re getting ready to head out and you ask your teen to get a move on. You hear this growl come from their room, but eventually they make it to the car. Once you get to the picnic, you can’t help but notice how charming your teen is. You’re blown away as person after person walks up to you and complements you on how polite and sweet your teen is. You’re thinking My teen? The one that just chewed me out for asking them to get a move on?
Before you start thinking you have given birth to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, there’s something you should understand about what happens for your teen when you’re out in public or better said, they’re out of your view. They’re treated like an adult, or more adult than baby. If your teen could burn the memory you have of them being a toddler, they probably would because it is that memory that keeps you from letting them be independent. You remind, nag, remind again then yell that you have reminded so much. What your teen is actually waiting for is to be allowed to fall on their face. Everyone they meet on the street is nice enough, but not so nice they would clean up their mistakes how much more try and prevent them; they treat your teen like someone who is responsible for their own actions. This gives your teen a sense of ownership and responsibility and guess what? They love it!
They smile, they act grown up and they do the other things you would expect someone to do you met at a function, they’re polite, charming and smile a lot. If everyone they walked up to treated them like a kid, they would be grumpy in five minutes and want to leave the function. Does this sound familiar? Thanksgiving. Family gatherings with older extended family perhaps?
Who your teen actually is, is that person out at the function. Next time you have to be somewhere, let them know earlier that day or even the day before, “I wanted to give a gentle reminder about the BBQ tomorrow at 2.30P. We need to leave the house at 2P. So you should be near the door about then. I will not mention this again because I know you are becoming more responsible and you can pace yourself to be at the door on time.” You want to try this with something they really want to do. That’s it. See what happens and resist the urge to remind them. They know you’ll be chomping at the bit to say something.
Teens want to be held to realistic high expectations. It gives them pride and a sense of mastery when they meet them. You will not see the best in your teen until you begin to do this and until you do this you will think your teen is faking when you’re out with them rather than the truth; they’re faking when they’re with you.