Lately I’ve been struggling with some attitude problems from a certain teenager. This teen drags feet when it’s time to come do lessons, argues about being required to do work, gets upset when given work to do or when told to get up in the morning, etc. Frankly, I’ve been getting tired of it. (And it reminds me greatly of our three-year-old but in a larger package, though the teen doesn’t see the resemblance at all when it’s pointed out by others.) At times, I’ve pondered how nice it would be to put said teen in a school so I could get a break from the attitude for a while, but I know that wouldn’t help–it would just involve more parties in the problem and complicate it even more.
Earlier this week, I was so frustrated when a lesson had to be terminated early because of this attitude. A Bible lesson no less. A morning wasted, I thought as I sent both teens off to work on cleaning the garage as I figured we needed time away from each other for a bit and I hoped that some hard work in the heat might make sitting down to lessons seem more appealing. I won’t be able to record the expected class time in our records since we didn’t get through the intended lesson, I thought. But then I thought that over some more. When I was teaching in classrooms in various high schools, I often faced disgruntled teens with attitudes like that and they often derailed lessons; yet the whole class didn’t have to come in for an extra class to make up for such disastrous classes. They were present and it still counted even if we didn’t cover a bit of the intended subject matter. So, I decided that I could do likewise.
But here’s where I think homeschooling came in for the win. Since my kids have been homeschooled from the start, since we’ve spent so much time together, and talked about so many varied topics, my teens will talk to me about a lot of things that I doubt we’d discuss if they were in school. This teen finally, after a lot of garage cleaning and then some lawn mowing, came and apologized and admitted that the problem is because the teen has been feeling as though the teen is an adult and should be treated as such and disagrees with some of the things I expect. Aha! Okay, now I see where this attitude is coming from and suddenly I have a solution.
“Okay. I’ll treat you like an adult then. I’ll expect you to go out and get a job. You can go do that right now. Then you’ll start paying for rent and clothes and such.”
“Uh, mom,” says the other teen with a worried look. “What kind of job can a teen get?”
“A teen can bike over to Publix and apply there.” I then talked to both teens about when I had moved back into my parents’ home, after living on my own for eight years. I’d been paying rent and supporting myself totally during the previous eight years as I went to college and later had my first full-time jobs. But when my mom asked me to move back home, I did. However, I didn’t come into my parent’s house and tell them how to run it. I did chores without waiting to be asked, and if I was asked to help with something, I did it because that’s how an adult acts. I was treated as an adult because I acted as one. Though I’ve talked about this before, suddenly it meant more to them.
“Um, no, Mom, I don’t want to have to have a job and support myself. I don’t think I’m ready for that.”
“Ready to work on lessons, then?”
I’m sure the attitude battle will raise its head again, but for now, I think I know how to help put it in its place. Sometimes.