Rage Quit

A term known to gamers, for a concept known to everyone, “rage quit” translates as “I’m mad and I don’t want to play anymore!”

But it happens beyond gaming.  Parents see it in discussions that become arguments.  One day it might be a parent rage quitting; the next a teen: “Forget it!  Whatever!  Just do what you want!”    Try not to get to that point – suggest that there might be a better time for this discussion.  But if you do get there, recognize it as time to stop.  Walk away, drop it, or change the subject before mean words are spoken.  Nobody’s in the mood to be reasonable after a rage quit; parents will make ridiculous threats (“Get back here or you’re grounded for a month!”) and teens will resort to disrespect (“I can do whatever I want!”).  Nobody wins.

If you go past The Point of No Return and into the Land of Hurt Feelings,  call for a time out.  Later, when everyone’s calm, start fresh and avoid the snares you ran into last time.  Exchange apologies if necessary, and keep breathing deeply.

Remember – in video games and in relationships, there’s a wonderful little button labeled “Reset.”








Thanksgiving Strategies

Hopefully, you’ll have a turkey at your Thanksgiving dinner – and it won’t be your own offspring.

Teens can be notorious for making holidays challenging – by being silly, or sulky, or just plain antisocial.  Here are a few tips to help things run more smoothly:

1. Discuss expectations.  Going to a relative’s house?  Having the relatives in?  Either way, tell your teens  beforehand what you want from them, whether it’s helping out with the housecleaning (or cooking or clean-up), or  entertaining Grandma or younger children.  It’s an awkward stage of life, and teens don’t always know what their roles are.

2. Agree on dress code.  If your family dresses up for holidays, talk to your teens about what they should wear, but be prepared to compromise.  You could give in on the shorter skirt but insist on a modest top, or allow jeans but with a dress shirt.  As long as it’s nicer than everyday wear, teens can pull it off.

3. Talk about table manners.  You taught them these when they were younger, but it’s a good idea to review the basics.  Knowing which fork to use isn’t as important as trying new foods when you’re a guest, or learning to refuse politely.  If elbows off the table and napkins in laps matter to you, then say so.

4. Comment on the positive.  Before you go (or guests arrive), take time to thank your teen for being on time or dressing appropriately.  After it’s all over, point out one thing that went well, such as chatting with the grown-ups or helping clear the table.  Parents are quick to criticize but not as quick to compliment.

When you’re counting your Thanksgiving blessings, remember to count your teens.  And don’t forget to let them know!

Another Difficult Teen

Because I realize many people now read these on their phones, I’ve vowed to make them shorter.  Therefore, you’ll be getting one Difficult Teen at a time – in 250 words or fewer.

The Crab Pots
What they do
When I was young, my mom would ask, “Why are you such a crab pot today?”  This never failed to cheer me up.  Yeah, right –  it made me crabbier.  Cranky teens don’t want to be cheered up; they’d rather wallow in their crabbiness.  Because their fuses are short, you may not have any idea of what you did that set them off; all you know is, they’re snapping their claws at you again.

How to handle them
Stay out of their way when you can. You can’t make them happy, so don’t try.  Use empathy, but don’t let them manipulate you or anyone else with their moods.  Dealing with bad moods is a life skill, so teach them how to handle theirs.  Try something like, “Sounds like you’re having a rough day.  Is there something I can do, or do you  just need some time alone with your loud music?”  Encourage them to take a timeout until it passes.  Just let them know you still love them, no matter how crabby they are!

One day, they will return the favor when it’s your turn to be a Crab Pot.