Lighter fluid and yogurt bowls

It was a calm, normal morning of getting ready for school with Palmer (13) and his little brother (8). All was well. It was a minute or two before we needed to leave.

All of a sudden, Palmer could not STAND the way his brother was using that particular spoon
 to scrape the yogurt out of his breakfast bowl.

The sound was driving him nuts. So what did he do?

He swiped the bowl from his brother, which brought on squawks of protest as fast and predictably as if he’d poured lighter fluid on a spark inside that yogurt bowl. Palmer took the bowl and proceeded to scrape it out with the “right kind of spoon” in the pattern that he deemed best. His brother was yelling. I was telling Palmer, “You do not have the right to do that!”

It took all of a few seconds to go from peace and calm to upset and explosion with all of us carrying on. The fussing continued into the car.

My primary point as we drove to school was that Palmer did not have the right to snatch his brother’s bowl. Palmer protested that he was helping. I said that he didn’t get to “help” when his brother clearly did not want his help. Palmer said it’s a free country and he can say whatever he wants. I agreed that he probably wouldn’t be thrown in jail for his unasked-for advice and criticism, but that there’s reason to consider the impact of his words on the relationship with his brother.

Good grief. Such a big eruption that blew up so quickly over something so seemingly insignificant.

The perils of living with a porcupine.

Take-away: living with teens and tweens can provide us with never-ending opportunities to practice keeping our cool over a wide range of aggravating behaviors. Sometimes we end up losing our cool because we are defending the honor of one of our kids. Sometimes it’s because we are determined to teach our kids valuable life lessons. There are so many reasons we lose it and no quick fixes.

Palmer and I recently hosted a webinar to share some novel, easy-to-implement strategies.  You can view the replay here.

Raising teens is a journey. We are here to walk it with you.

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Kerry Stutzman
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