I'm all grown up! Teen fighting

I'm all grown up! Teen fighting

I was always the little sister. I wanted my siblings to see me for who I was as a young adult; not the little girl I once was. By the time I was a teen, most of them had left the house, and so there I was quarreling with my parents, becoming who I am, without them being part of the process.

I got to thinking about why our teens fight with us so much. They are in essence feeling what I felt when my siblings didn't see who I was becoming. They want to be understood and taken for the person they are transforming into, not the child they were.

It would be easy to blame the outrages on hormones; the real reason is their desire to establish an identity. In adolescence, teens start a journey of self-questioning and discovery. As they embark on this venture of becoming an adult, the quarrels pick up. Sometimes they are over silly things like how much time they can spend online, or if they are allowed out. Other times it is deeper issues, but actually, all they are doing are finding themselves.

I complained non-stop that my siblings didn't take me seriously. One day, a full blown adult with two children, my brother visited me. Because I live in Europe he hadn't notice the woman I had become. For a week he walked around saying, "Oh my goodness, you can cook! Look how clean your house is! You can speak foreign languages ..." I had finally gained his respect, he saw me, and I was a mother. 

If you are fighting with your teen, don't think you've failed. On the contrary, the fighting means you see them, take them seriously and care enough to spar with them. Just keep talking to them, try to lower your voice and maintain control but also realize they just want to be recognized as the person they are becoming. They, just like me, want respect from those they love so deeply.


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