Raising teens - Pick your fights

Raising teens - Pick your fights

When I was about 13, the summer before my 9th grade and my last year in Junior High, I did something crazy. You could say I rebelled. It was the year Madonna came out with Like a Virgin and New Wave was in vogue. I felt invisible at school and being in a small town no one followed  fashion with flair. I decided to change things.

That summer I went to a very fashionable place with funky young hairdressers and said, “ I don’t like the way I look or the way people see me, I want to go back to school with a new image.”  I had a long discussion with the hairdresser which resulted in a perm and one side of my head shaved. I was a bit nervous walking in my house because I did not tell my family that I was getting my hair cut. No one was inside on that hot summer’s day. I found my Mom and some of my siblings sitting on the back porch. I took a deep breath, walked out and said, “Tada, the new me!”

I thought I might get in trouble. I did something bold without consulting my Mom. She surprised me, she clapped her hands in front of her mouth and said, “ I love it!”

Later in life,  I asked my Mom why she didn’t get mad. She explained that the moment she saw me, she knew I had found the courage to be me. She was right. But Furthermore, she gave me the advice that I give all parents; Pick your fights. You see, hair grows back and I didn’t do anything dangerous. Don’t argue with your kids about their preferred hairstyle, clothing or music. Save your fights and your control for the important things. Let them be original and experiment at home so that if they stumble you can help them.

—Allison Ochs Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife