Expressing Frustration

Here’s the thing—I have three high-school aged teenagers, each of them is one year apart in school and a little more than one year apart in age. I love them, I adore them, I am often inspired by them—but they have a regular tendency to frustrate the living daylights out of me! I would like to go on record that I think it is perfectly appropriate and healthy for a parent to be able to express her frustration at her charges and offspring now and again…

According to all the experts, in all in the HOW we express ourselves to our children that matter. As long as I “own” my frustration instead of placing all the blame on my kids, I’m doing pretty well. So, I try to say, “I’m feeling incredibly frustrated because…” or “when you do X, I get extremely frustrated” (notice I’m never just frustrated, I’m usually extremely, extraordinarily, or incredibly frustrated.) Plus, not only do I feel better if I express how I am feeling, I figure it is good for my kids to hear me be able to express my frustration in a healthy and obvious way instead of wondering why I’m seething and slamming around.

Now, of course, just because I am expressing myself with some degree of adequate communication skills that does not mean that my teens respond well. What I get more often than not is “chill” or “you don’t have to let yourself get so worked up.) Pretty good boundaries and deflection, don’t you think? Still I am the mom, I am also pretty persistent and even if I have to acknowledge that I really cannot control everything and anything my kids do—especially now that they are nearly ready to fledge—I do have a right to express my incredible, extreme, extraordinary frustration at the personal choices and behaviors that they choose to exhibit. (I think we could all earn our black belts in appropriate, modern, politically-correct, communication techniques…)

See Also: Emotional Intelligence and Clear Communication

Improving Communication Through Parent-Child Contracts

Communicating With Kids Using E-mail and Instant Messaging