Frankly, my kids are killing me. I don’t get it. Why do the stories from seasoned parents come with smiles, jokes, and rolled eyes? That’s dishonest. Kid stories should come with rants, cursing, shrieking, sobs, and tears. And what’s up with this?– “Oh, you’re so lucky you’re homeschooling. You’ll avoid so many issues.” Pft. We can compare spec sheets if you want. I think we’d find that despite different outward impressions, we’re working with the same vexatious operating system.
The Tricky Language
I have four daughters, two who are definitely “tweening” it. One darling, “betwixted” daughter declared two days ago that I just have to learn the love language of “I hate you”. (And quickly– before one of us ends up back at Granny’s house seventeen hours away.)
It’s quite a tricky language, fraught with peril. I responded, “Anything for you, girl.” And I got right on that. I typed out a little cheat sheet for myself of what I consider the most common phrases, showed it to my oldest daughter, and said, “Hey! What do you think?”
I earned an A+ in my new language! Now, I just have to practice, but with the ample opportunities, I’m sure I’ll be an expert before the day’s up.
They say that certain languages are better for communicating certain ideas. For example, medical science is usually communicated in English due to the specificity of the English language and its words. I don’t know, but all of my medical doctor friends from abroad tell me they studied medicine in English. Amazing feat, eh?
I propose that tweens are dealing with language confinement. Their language, which my daughter calls the hate language, just doesn’t have enough words and concepts to communicate effectively to us. I can’t tell you how many times my girls have said to me when I ask them to describe how they’re feeling in a tense moment, “But I don’t know what I’m feeling!”
My girls honestly can’t express what they’re feeling. Ugh. Trust me. I’ve tried the active listening technique, and I sat there for over 30 minutes in silence waiting for a response. (You have no idea how hard that was for me.) The girls just don’t know what it is they’re feeling. So what do they do? They resort to their simple language of hate. This hate language is clearly more limited in its abilities to express emotions.
Hate Language Phrases
I’ve translated some hate language phrases I hear in my house. Sometimes a phrase might mean something slightly different, depending on the situation and daughter (see–it’s an inexact language!), but you’ll get the idea. Stop! Don’t bristle! Interpret!
“I hate you.” (Because I love you so much I don’t know how to separate myself from you.)
“It’s your fault.” (I feel bad when I mess up but I’m so glad you try to protect me and help me and do something for me.)
“Katherine’s family is better. (Because I want a cell phone with Snapchat and a Facebook account and to keep my phone in my room at night.)
“I hate my sister.” (Am I okay? I don’t feel special. Does anyone love me for me? I am an individual, not just a piece of this family unit.)
“Why are we always the first ones to have to leave?” (I’m so glad you bring me to fun get-togethers.)
“You always take her side.” (I feel so insecure. Maybe I did pick this fight. But I did it because for some reason I feel yucky inside and I want everyone to feel yucky–yet I want to be loved like a baby. Why does my head feel so crazy inside, Mom? What’s happening to me? I can’t control how I feel anymore.)
“I need clothes. I need camp.” (I’m afraid I don’t fit in. I feel so awkward. I’m afraid I’m being left out.)
“I need you.” (See me as a person, mom. Make me feel special like you used to.)
Will We Laugh Too?
Ah. Sigh. (Big sigh.) From poop to vomit to picking noses to the language of hate. We parents are in it deep. Is it funny? I suppose looking back, when things turn out okay in the end, we’ll be able to laugh like those seasoned parents. But seriously, I’ve seen things not turn out okay before. So although I don’t plan to stew and think I’m the controller of my kids’ destiny—which I do not believe–I’m learning that there are things I can help with as a parent and things I cannot help with. I’m not a psychiatrist, and I’m not trained in psychology. So please don’t use anything I write as professional advice.
But if something I write or wrote helps you not bristle and to communicate better with your tween, I am happy. (It’s SO easy to retort to their hate language with our own hate language.) And if you know of something that helped YOU to not bristle and helped you communicate better with your tween, it’s NOT nice to NOT share. PLEASE! THROW ME THE ROPE! 🙂
The next post will be 12 tips on raising tweens.
You’re an awesome parent. Don’t bristle, and let it shine. Use your words.