GUEST POST: I’m a Mother of Teenagers. Who Needs an Attitude Adjustment Them or Me? by Jenny Watson

I’m a Mother of Teenagers.

Who Needs an Attitude Adjustment Them or Me?

by Jenny Watson


How do you feel about cooking? Talking on the phone? Shopping for clothes? Did you just have a reaction of anticipation or dread? Many women do have intense emotional reactions to these topics.


How do you feel about teenagers? Did that evoke a strong emotion as well? We’ve all known parents who dread the teen years for probably more reasons than one. Parents can’t control where their children are and what their children are doing like they used to be able to. Teens’ brains aren’t developed enough to think through all the consequences of their risk-taking behavior, and that scares the people who love them out of their wits.


And let’s just face it; they can be emotional, disrespectful and sullen. Teenagers can have really bad attitudes.


When surveyed by Shaunti Feldhahn and Lisa Rice for their book, For Parents Only, teenagers from different backgrounds all across the United States were asked about what was happening inside when they exhibited these negative behaviors. The kids knew they were doing it. Those surveyed said that the attitudes were really just the outward sign of their fears and insecurities. Both females and males agreed that the fears were the cause, but there were different insecurities between the sexes.


Male teens said that one of their greatest fears was failure. Another fear was that no one would notice them when they achieved something. Boys needed to feel successful. They needed people to watch them and comment on their success.


This is a conundrum. They need to feel successful. How do you become successful at something? You practice, which means trying and failing. So, to meet one of their greatest needs, they had to get there through one of their greatest fears.


Girls replied that they feared rejection. They feared not being unique. They needed acceptance. They needed to be known. Another great dilemma is that in order to be accepted, they give up their uniqueness. They can’t be known, because someone might not include them. Just like the boys, the very things they need are hindered by their fears.


Think about how adults respond to teens’ bad attitudes. Do we make boys feel like failures? Do we communicate that we were watching them and noticing that they did not achieve? With girls, are they feeling rejected by our responses to them? Are we giving them opportunity to reveal their uniqueness, or are we squashing it? It is becoming obvious why raising teens can be a challenge. Our responses to their disrespect toward us trigger their fears that caused the disrespect in the first place – a vicious cycle.


Do adults have to accept bad attitudes? No, but we can still accept the person behind the attitude. Knowing what we know about teens, we can work to build up their self-confidence so that their fears are diminished. We can develop empathy and practice responses that meet emotional needs instead of feeding fears.


God, in His infinite wisdom and creativity, made teens this way, probably so that we would have to depend on Him. If the goal is to produce a secure adult, and you have to get through the insecure teen years to get there, then who can meet the goal? No one can accomplish this alone. Good thing we aren’t alone. The very creator of these precious beings is waiting to encourage us and guide us through.


Think about a teen you know. Hopefully, the feelings you just experienced were feelings of anticipation and understanding because, if you think it is scary being a mom of a teen, just try being a teen.




  1. Kathie Littleton said,

    May 15, 2011 at 8:51 am

    Yes! There is a person behind the attitude. It takes patience to dismantle what’s really going on when our kids are emotional and disrespectful. We can’t be afraid of what they throw back at us. Stay in the struggle. Seek out what’s behind the emotion. They may be experiencing fear about something and it comes out as anger. We are the safe place for them to be emotional. Praying silently in those moments have revealed much in seeing God’s truth. He is the greatest source to the heart of our kids! I’m so thankful Jenny for you going before us and sharing great parenting for us who are in the middle of the teens. There is more yet to come!

  2. July 3, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Jenny, I could hear your voice through this whole article! 🙂 One time I was about to lay into my teen about texting in a room full of new people. But the Spirit stopped me dead in my tracks and informed me gently, “That boy is afraid.” I saw him as myself 30 years ago, smoking a cigarette. When I was nervous in a crowd, my friends and I would all light up. My son’s cell phone is to him now what a cig was to me then– just a crutch. After the Spirit redirected me, I was able to put my arm around him and speak to his fears. He put his cell phone in his pocket and I did a little jig for joy- for once,I listened to the Spirit!!!

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