The Adventures Of Fatherhood – May 20, 2022

Sports really do provide special moments.

Beckett’s middle school lacrosse team traveled to Easton last week for a game and got crushed. There was a wonderful silver lining though. With the game well in hand, the opposing coach called time out with five seconds left. What could he possibly need to do in the last five seconds with the score 9-2? It turned out he had cooked up something special.

A boy in a wheelchair rolled out to the midfield line surrounded by his teammates and my son and his fellow players. Opposing team players cheered him down the field toward the goal. He surprised us all, making his way behind the goal. With our defenders flopping out of his way, he came back to the face of the goal and shot to score his first goal. Players on both teams celebrated with the youngsters as well as the parents on the sidelines.

Later I learned our team was unaware of the plan until it happened. There were no orchestrated efforts to work together to make this a memorable moment for the handicapped kid, who was a stranger to our team’s players. It was a beautiful moment of sincere spontaneity, a result of good hearts and pure instincts within these young student-athletes.

This situation happened to unfold on Beckett’s 14th birthday. It was a lasting memory to mark the occasion.

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Fourteen – it’s hard to believe I have a kid this age. I suppose this will be said for the rest of my life as he and his little brother continue to grow up.

I’m constantly struck at how different our days are now with our 14- and 12-year-old boys, respectively. They sure are complicated beings with their own individual views on things and some tricky moods as well.

Parenting our 14-year-old boy often feels like walking in a minefield. When I strolled into his room after work one night this week, I found a flurry of papers all over his room. He had fallen behind on a few assignments and needed to catch up. His mom helped him get a plan in place. He didn’t like the plan because it involved a lot of work. As I walked into his room, he unloaded on me about several topics. I just let him vent. He was not looking for advice.

Some suggestions on why his agitation and irk over his current affairs were the last thing he wanted. I just told him I can see you’re upset, keep plugging away and dinner in 30 minutes. He yelled downstairs, “can we get pizza?” When I said, “not tonight, but soon,” he muttered a few things I didn’t felt needed a response.

Birthdays provide these “take stock” moments. Through all the ups and downs, I am incredibly proud of our kid. He has a good heart, but battles many things every day. Most of his challenges are typical teen issues, while others are unique to him. He’s learning the best way for him to be successful in and out of the classroom. He recently said to me out of the blue, “I know I need to be more consistent with things, but it’s hard.” It was introspective and a good self-critique.

Parenting For Brain founder Pamela Li shared some of her own thoughts on navigating the teen journey.

Be a calm, consistent presence: In the teenage years, the brain is more flexible and less regulated to prepare it for the transition into adulthood. The unfortunate downside is that their mood swings can be intense and upsetting to parents.

The goal of these changes is not about attacking you or being defiant. So take a deep breath and try not to take typical teenage mood swings personally.

Even if your teen seems disrespectful to you, stay calm and do not lose your cool. Be the most reliable calming force in the storm while holding clear boundaries for teenage behavior.

In other words, you can address poor behavior calmly and kindly.

Emotions are contagious. You already see that their anger can trigger your anger. Stay calm and do not let your anger feedback to them and escalate everyone’s emotions.

Be supportive, not punitive: Having to deal with this awful mood is unpleasant, but it can be even worse for your teen. Imagine getting enraged over the tiniest things and not being able to control your own mood. …

Parents’ handling of their adolescent’s emotions has a profound effect on their teenager’s behavior and emotional wellbeing.

Teenagers with emotionally supportive parents tend to be more well-adjusted​​. Those whose parents punish or dismiss their emotional responses are more likely to develop behavioral problems and depressive episodes or symptoms.

Be autonomy-supportive: Controlling parenting is found to predict oppositional behavior and conduct disorder in adolescents. Instead of controlling your child, allow them more freedom to develop their independence. Parents’ autonomy-support is associated with more intrinsic motivation to study and better academic performance​​.

Listen to your moody teenager: There is nothing more aggravating than being scolded, ignored, and not listened to.

Teenagers often feel dismissed and disrespected when parents lecture them instead of listening to them. Listen to what they say and try to see things from their perspective.

Attune to your teen’s emotions: When you are attuned to your teen’s emotional state, they can clearly see that you understand them.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.