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Parenting Lessons: It's Not Just You; It's Me, Too

My almost teenager is the one that is “exhibiting normal adolescent behavior,” and I am the one nearly panicking, even though I am a middle school counselor.
by Michelle Sutherlin Modified: March 19, 2014 at 12:30 pm •  Published: March 19, 2014

OK. I get it now. I understand in a way that I couldn’t have before.

All those times parents of middle schoolers would call me, write me or come to see me and tell me that their son/daughter was not OK and they were going to take them to see a doctor/therapist/counselor/etc. because they were crazy/forgetful/emotional/moody/etc. I would always tell them how normal their child was acting and go into an explanation about frontal lobe development and behavior regression…blah, blah, blah.

Now, my almost teenager is the one that is “exhibiting normal adolescent behavior” and I am the one nearly panicking. (I would be panicking if I didn’t know enough to know that what he is going through truly is “normal.”)

It is difficult and bizarre to watch my child have all of the normal issues that come with being a teenager. Mood swings. Immature behavior. Obsessing about seemingly trivial things. Not wanting to do his work. Becoming more apathetic about his grades. Thinking life is over (as he knows it) because so and so did such and such. Overreacting about everything. Temper tantrums. Becoming too cool to talk to me in public.

I had a moment recently when I thought that my son might be losing his marbles. I couldn’t catch my breath. My mind was racing. I was desperately trying to think of who I could call to ask for help.

The other overwhelming emotion I struggled with was embarrassment. I mean, of all people on the planet who should know how to help my son, it should be me! After all, not only am I his mom, I am a middle school counselor. I specialize in working with kids my son’s age.

But as I sat next to him in the car, driving him silently home so that he could retreat to his room and his Xbox, I remembered … THIS IS NORMAL.

So why did it feel so … awful?

I think it felt so terrible for lots of reasons. First, as I read in another wonderful blog, it is important to respect your pre-teen/teen’s privacy. I also believe strongly that when we post things publicly, we should only have positive things to say about our kids. My filter is, how would my child feel if they read this? Would they be proud of what I said? Would their feelings be hurt?

Also, there is a part of me that, even though I know this is completely normal, I am a little worried that my kid is the only one who acts a little kookie sometimes. Now, I KNOW he’s not the only one, but I have that irrational fear sometime.

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by Michelle Sutherlin
NewsOK Contributor
Michelle Sutherlin is a middle school counselor in Norman, OK, who works with students ages 11-15 daily. She is also a mom to two boys, Ryan (12) and Will (9). She and her husband have been married for 16 years. She loves middle school students so...
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