I am on the last of 4 teenage boys. I learned early on that boys require a special sort of patience, because they bring with them a level of hostility unrivaled by the angriest of all creatures.
This morning was a perfect example. As I was dropping my 18 year old off at school I reminded him that we are making gingerbread houses tonight. His first response was a seething “That’s stupid. Why do I have to do that?”. I said that he had to do it because it is a family activity, and he is part of the family. The next 2 minutes I listened to his barrage of complaints. “I go to school all day, then I work. I just want to see my friends. You can’t make me not see my friends. I didn’t ask to do this. How do you come up with such bullshit? We’re not 7 you know; we’re grown ass men who shouldn’t be decorating gingerbread houses. And did you ask me if I wanted to do this? I’m 18 years; I should be allowed to decide what I’m doing in my free time. This is just really f***ed up………etc.”
Years ago my blood pressure would have risen, my anxiety would have overwhelmed me and I would have cried after he got out of the car. Thanks to his older brothers though, I knew to just quietly listen. I knew that as he got out of the car he would say “love you”, and he would mean it.
This is the joy of boys. Yes, they are rude, and nasty, and spout off hostility at the drop of a hat. The flip side though, is that they get it out of their system, then move on. If you allow them to, they vent and get it over with.
I actually admire them. How often do I wish I could go off on a tantrum about something, then walk away. Life would be so much easier if I could say what I’m really feeling, then let it go. I spent a lifetime being told my feelings were out or proportion; that I was a drama queen, or out of control. This made my life much more difficult than it needed to be. I am grateful that I’ve learned from my boys that huge feelings and overly dramatic reactions come with the territory of teenage years. All of this will be tempered as the years go by; if I let nature work it’s magic.
So let your boys vent without fear of reprisal or insult. Don’t be afraid of their anger. Don’t get defensive and internalize their accusations. Don’t forget that this is a normal part of growing up. Inevitably, they come around to acknowledge that they love us. Even when we are making them do dumb ass activities.