I admit it here and now that I do NOT always understand why my kids do what they do or what their motivations or inner workings are. Sometimes, I do and sometimes I can at least see inklings and smidges of what is going on inside their heads and inner-persons. But, I’ve learned over the years that they really do need me to “get them”—even when they say they don’t. So, when I’m not entirely sure what’s going on, I’ve learned to try to fake it.
I think that our children need us to be and stay in control. Of course, we know that we are not always in control and that the world operates without our input on a fairly regular basis. But, at least in our little families and our little household, mom and/or dad need to be the ones in charge. I may make mistakes and get things wrong, but I do know that my children need to feel like I’ve got a handle on the details of daily living. When they are feeling at their kookiest, that is when they need me to be the “rock.” Even if I come off as dorky, I think I need to maintain control—at least on the surface!
With teenagers especially—I think they need me to attempt to “get them.” For teens, the world gets upended, and things can feel incredibly precarious and insecure. They are confused by their own motivations and behaviors and often have no idea why they are doing the things they do. While I may be as confused as they are (which doesn’t happen very often), I think they need me to normalize things with my understanding and calm acceptance. A wise old grandmother once told me that she knew that she “arrived” as a parent when she learned how to “appear as though she couldn’t be shocked.” I thought this was great! She admitted that, of course, her kids and grandkids never ceased to surprise and amaze her, but as long as she faked like she understood and could take anything they dished out, she remained the beloved and unbreakable matriarch of her clan.