One of the pleasures of being a child is seeing your parents adapt and change. From silly games when you are young to full-blown sporting competition as you get older. From cuddles to a respectful decorum.
However, many children notice dramatic changes in their parents around 12-14 years after their own birth. What follows is a short guide to interpreting and managing those changes in your parents.
One of the surest signs that an adult has been a parent for around 13 years are flare ups of erratic, moody and dictatorial behaviour. They tend to occur in one of three circumstances:
- you are enjoying yourself – this apparently becomes difficult for parents of this vintage to bear
- you are settled comfortably watching TV or playing a game
- you have been out of the house with friends.
You may also notice parents becoming awkwardly talkative, particularly at times when you’ve a lot on your mind and don’t want to be discussing your day at school or what you would like to do in the Christmas holidays.
You are likely to experience them being picky and very repetitive about trivial matters such as where in your room clothes are kept, or that you should talk to your siblings. It’s evidence of a wider loss of perspective on their part. Pressing issues such as our world becoming polluted; and which group of friends you should walk to school with, frankly, they just wouldn’t understand, let alone be able to engage with.
There’s also a resentfulness creeping into their behaviour. Accompanying you in the car (but not getting out with you) to the cinema, friend’s house and then shopping centre are somehow inconvenient. Your financial entitlement comes with strings attached. This aspect of parents’ behaviour is often most acutely felt when you put some of their possessions – jewelry, make-up, mobile phone – to good use; certainly much better than anything they would have done with those objects.
It’s not easy, but you should try to understand your parent, who is experiencing major life changes. At its root may be their sudden realisation that they are turning into someone they despised 25-30 years ago (their own parents). They may be trying to ‘spread their wings’ – having had a negligible social life for the last decade or more, squashed by their insistence on following you around since you were young. Many parents have simply lost the social skills to make new friends. Physically, they’re having to cope with changes, too. Hair is thinning or greying, or both. Joints are grinding and muscles becoming inelastic.
All of this is normal and you should take none of it personally. Although, that may be difficult if your parents exhibit the following extreme behaviour.
The very worst of it, which some of you will face, is that around this time some parents begin writing – blogging. And they choose to write about you; well that’s their pretext, but of course they’re just projecting the difficult changes in their life onto you. This is a tricky situation for everyone, particularly as they will be going through a pretence of not wanting you to know what they are doing, when really it’s a cry for help. Opinion is divided over the best response, but there are broadly two options:
- troll them into silence; or
- crank things up a little so they have a good selection of ‘episodes’ about which they can write.