THE “D” WORD
REBELLIOUS TEENS AND IBD
Rebelliousness is a part of being a teen, growing up, breaking away. All teenagers' parents realize that the umbilical cord has turned into a bungie cord and their teen is constantly leaping from heights. Add IBD to this and you probably feel like you're living in the Alps. What to do?
1. First, stay calm and second, move quickly. (If your child has survived the terrible twos, you have already learned to move quickly.) Staying calm can be a real challenge but, it is most effective.
2. You are the parent. That means you are there to set limits and to enforce them. Be reasonable and consistent and use natural consequences whenever possible. Now you have the wisdom of parenting in a nutshell. But, you say, how do you crack it open and use it?
3. You get clear on your limits. Think about what you can live with, what is OK with you and what really is not. What are your own personal values and what is just plain dangerous? Where can you give and where, for you, is it written in stone? For instance, does it really matter if your teen's hair is green? Is it worth a major power struggle over dyed locks? You may think it is obnoxious and ugly but it is a pretty safe place to rebel. I looked the other way at the way my kids dressed, but they knew I'd have a fit, say, if they didn't get the car back on time.
4. Now about those natural consequences. If you dress funny people will laugh at you. If you are late with my car, you will make me mad and I will not let you use the car for a week. Simple. But what happens when we feel natural consequences are dire and we don't want to take the chance of the youngster experiencing them? I always take the attitude that teens are rebellious, not stupid. I may be wrong, but I go on that theory anyway. All consequences should be explained carefully to them.
In the case of medication, you should ask your doctor to discuss with your child all aspects of the medicines taken and the consequences of not taking them, or skipping a day. If they understand why they are on these drugs and what will happen if they don't follow directions, cooperation is more likely assured.
My daughter knows the only way to get me to stop nagging, is to demonstrate that she is taking responsibility. I don't recommend nagging, but I do consider it a mother's privilege and have been known to indulge.
(PS: I consider nagging natural consequences.)
5. Talk to other parents. Get support. I already mentioned getting support from your doctor by having him explain medicines and procedures to your child. We all have experienced our child assuring us that Johnny or Susie's parents let them... "Well you're not Johnny or Susie," is the answer that has worked for centuries. Actually, checking with Johnny or Susie's parent, you may find out that they aren't allowed to do it either.
Checking with other parents can get you the support you need and give all of you the support to draw the line where necessary. It's nice to feel like part of a community, it reinforces for your child that there are expectations and rules that they must follow as well as people who care. If possible, meet with other parents whose child is dealing with IBD. It's great to share coping ideas as well as discover that others are dealing with some of the same issues you are.
It helps to have a sense of humor. You may not always be right and you man not always win. Remember: This too shall pass. They do get older – and so do we.
Copyright 1996 - 2002 Arlyn Serber