Teaching Teens Flexibility Requires Patience

Soooo yea. Teenagers. I’m still wrapping my mind around the whole concept of parenting two of them. Thankfully, while they do drive me a little batty, for the most part they’re not terribly awful as of now. I’m learning that I need to think back to my own experiences and development to figure out how to handle my boys.

An example: The Mercenary has wanted for a very long time to learn to play the guitar. We just learned this week that a music teacher will be coming to the homeschool co-op that we attend, affording him the opportunity to take ten weeks of lessons very conveniently.

Hubby and I each have a guitar. Mine cost about a hundred bucks and I bought it while on a trip to Mexico. It’s nice, but not any kind of collector’s item. Hubby’s was inherited from a great uncle, is quite old, and is electric. It doesn’t appraise as a super expensive item (someone saw fit to spray-paint it in the 70’s) but it does have some value and I would hate to see it get damaged at all. The co-op boasted nearly 40 children last semester, ranging in age from newborn to 13.

I see absolutely no wisdom in taking an item of value to that venue and trusting that no accidents would happen. So I announced to The Mercenary on Thursday that he could have the lessons but in no way shape or form would he be bringing his dad’s guitar each week.

Ohhhhh he was upset with me! At one point he told me that he just wouldn’t take lessons at all then.

Rather than argue, I just stated my case a time or two (to be clear) and then I left it alone. We haven’t discussed it since then. He stewed for a while, then the whole thing dropped.

Why was he upset? Because I wasn’t operating according to his pre-conceived notion of the guitar lesson. He had imagined the total coolness of bringing that guitar in, and all the other kids envying his awesomeness. I had just burst that bubble, and it’s natural that he would be displeased. You should have seen me as a teenager. I would get SO upset if things didn’t go according to my plans. I’ve learned to handle sudden change much better over time, but it definitely took me years to grow past that particular issue.

I most definitely owe it to him to be understanding and allow him the time to do follow that same path of improvement.

The co-op resumes in two weeks, and I betcha he cooperates with the plan and takes my guitar in for lessons. With time to get over the shock, he’ll likely choose to get the lessons even though it’s not what he originally intended.

He’ll just have to demonstrate his personal awesomeness in another way.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents of awesome yet inflexible children.

Image courtesy of victor.lavrentev via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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5 Responses to “Teaching Teens Flexibility Requires Patience”

  1. I have a teen and tween and man, it can be hard to “stay the course” and not be drawn in. I had a similar experience recently with my daughter who seemed to assume she could have our older (nice DSLR) camera when we got a new one…We got an eye roll and “whatever” sort of attitude when we offered to sell it to her at a discounted rate. I was tempted to jump in and long-lecture but I just stayed very on point and short, and let it go. Later she approached us again with some discussion on how she might go about becoming the new “owner”. Teens can be tough, but remembering our own thought processes helps a lot, I agree!

    • Amy LeForge says:

      Ohhhh, good story SuperMom! I talk WAY too much. It’s something I’m trying to remember to work on; I’ve got a LOOOONG way to go before I master that one though.

  2. Hot teach says:

    Hi it is a good things.i have a teen student.so i had know your experience.thanks for the story.

  3. Dear Amy –

    I have mixed feelings about this. All my boys play guitar – one is really good. But it lead to my having rock band in my basement for years.

    It can affect your hearing for life.

    What about a flute? Or a violin?.

    • Amy LeForge says:


      You made me and The Mercenary laugh loudly. I’ve already resigned myself to the noise and will just invest in ear plugs should the need arise. Right now, he’s just committed to ten lessons, the length of our semester at the co-op. We’ll see what happens from there. He’s still a boy who hasn’t truly found an activity he loves in life, so I’m not planning on any lengthy commitments yet. Of course, now that I’ve said that…rock band here we come.

      And don’t get me started on the loudness of the Wii game Guitar Hero. Yikes. I just close the door. 🙂

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