Monday, April 20, 2020

Teen Dysfunction Syndrome

When you’ve been around the block a few times, you can’t help but know a few things. Some knowledge comes easy, then there are those hard earned bits. Parenting, for example. In these strange quarantined days, when parents and teens are forced to spend more time together, in the interest of maintaining mental stability I felt compelled to offer some perspective.

It’s well known that parenting is a process that no amount of reading or attending classes can prepare you for. Some skills, or lack thereof, are naturally acquired from how you were parented, producing both good and bad results. In that regard it’s also a learning curve. You just have to figure things out as you go mostly. You dive into the middle with high hopes fostered by the biological compulsion of love for your offspring and work your way out to both ends.

The two toughest challenges in a parent’s progress are the toddler years and the teen years. Either and both can be the primary cause of premature gray hair. The upside to the toddler years, though, is that you, as the appointed person in charge, have more power to contain irrational behavior. You are bigger than the child and you can set firm boundaries that the child can rail against but cannot escape.

Once a child has reached the threshold of broadened horizons, which begin as they are let out into the world of school and daily associations with people the parent does not know, the clock begins to tick toward the inevitable day of reckoning. When the teen launches a life outside of the parental home, other influences, (and in today’s techie world this is a huge impact), reduce the parent’s control dramatically. 

Couple this reality with the biological defect of an under-developed frontal cortex, that often issues unwise directives to the teen brain, one can predict and indeed expect a collision of wills between parent and child. 

This is not new, though parents living in the stressful middle of teen management, often feel as though they are not only alone, but perhaps might be pioneers, frontrunners  exploring new never-before-experienced frontiers of human development. 

Apparently, when, at approximately the age of frontal lobe maturity hits at around age 26, there is also a phenomenon of amnesia that occurs. All previous memories of what the teen years were like, for the fully developed young adult, somehow disappears or fades to a blur. I believe this is God’s way of preserving the species because no one would willingly reproduce recalling the difficulties of the common-senseless rebellious decade.

Really, the best thing to know is that there is no easy way to get through the teen years without herculean patience and a lot of prayer. 

So, based on personal experience, and having survived TDS - Teen Dysfunction Syndrome, more than once, I can offer this lame hope - It does get better. One day your teen reaches young adulthood and realizes how amazingly smart you have become in just a few years. 

Eventually, as they become parents, you get to observe, from a safe distance, as they too experience their own bout with TDS. Life is truly a circle and what goes around comes around, you might muse. You also might offer up your hard won wisdom occasionally - Hold on. Stand. Do not enable or buckle. When they roll their eyes, scream at you that they hate you, calmly reply, “Well, I love you anyway.”

Wait. That sounds so familiar in another context. 

Ah, I know. That’s what our patient Father God says to us when we act like willful children, isn’t it? :-)

For Him, 


  1. Oh. Every word of this is true.
    There have been times in the teen years that I didn't think ANY of us would survive. I'm grateful for the good relationships we enjoy with all our sons. I've got one more teen in the nest and two whose pre-frontal cortexes are still developing (crazy!).
    We're gonna stay on our knees.

    1. OH! LOL! Yes, lots of on our knees time. Only by amazing grace have we survived the teen years. But since it’s not new one can always cling to the hope that it is survivable.

      Here’s a quote - “The children now love luxury, they have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.” ~ Socrates.

    2. Nothing new under the sun...