Just Shut the Door

August 29, 2012

Sometimes in life we have to lose to win!

I found this to be the case with the power struggle that goes on between teenagers and their parent(s) regarding the state of their bedrooms. Now I know that many of you just had a somewhat emotional flashback when I even mention this topic. This tug of war can be Herculean, and, in my experience, is a lose-lose situation from the outset.

There are so many factors at play here, and to be fair and not demeaning to teenagers, their brains are just not adult brains. We know this to be true from recent studies in brain theory. Teenagers do not think like adults. Their neural connections, life experiences and reasoning patterns are just not the same. Scientists are telling us that many of the things that we expect of teenagers are just not reasonable. I wish that I had known this 15 years ago!

As well as the physiology of a teenager's brain, we must consider the sociological aspects. These are years of searching for self identity. Maybe having 14 posters on their bedroom walls of their favourite rock star, possibly scantily clad or in a provocative pose, or pictures of their idols in athletics is part of this search. Certainly not our idea of a "Martha Stewart "room, but they own it. For them it starts building their nest, their haven, or as Tolkein wrote in The Hobbit, that place where they feel safe- their 'Hobbit hole'.

Then we must not forget the psychological aspects of the teenage years. This is a time of extremes… the very good times and the very bad ones. It is a time of wanting to belong, or needing the support and acceptance of friends. It is a time when they need to start feeling some control in their lives, and that includes, at times, to feel a sense of power. How they organize (or don't organize), clean (or don't clean) their rooms should be one of those areas where they can make decisions.

Now having said that, it drove me crazy!! Living off piles on the floor, dressing each day from the laundry basket of clean clothes, and collecting remnants of snacks from weeks gone by really pushed me to the edge, and I must admit that occasionally I broke, and went in to retrieve at least the things that were growing in there and were emitting an odour into the hall.

To close my thoughts on this seemingly trite, yet potentially hugely irritating topic, I have to admit to loving teenagers. Besides being a mother, I was a high school teacher for decades. I truly loved my job!!

For you see, for as tall as they grow, and as sophisticated as they seemed, teenagers are neither fish nor fowl. They are not young, not are they old; immature or mature. They are in that wonderful in between where, just under the surface you have these great young people who are finding their way through the maze of passing from innocence to experience…a daunting journey.

A few easy decisions by parents and teachers can sometimes make all the difference!! Just shut their bedroom doors! This is one fight that you can afford to lose.