David walked home from school with a smile on his face. It had been a good day. He and his friends shared CDs between classes, and he was going home with new music. The girl he was sorta going out with had written love messages all over his left hand and arm. He thought it looked really cool. His best friend had dyed his hair a really dark black color and Dave was toying with the thought of doing the same thing. In fact, he had impulsively ducked into the corner store and bought a dark rinse a few moments before. Arriving home, he threw his backpack on the dining room table, put his new CD in the computer, cranked up the volume, then settled in front of the TV to play some video games.
A couple hours later mom came home. She could hear loud music from the driveway as she parked the car. The sound of artillery wafted out the open living room window. She glanced around the neighborhood, wondering if any of the neighbors were home.
We can all imagine the probable looming confrontation. But let’s stop for a moment and analyze the situation. Here is a 15 year-old boy who is in the air stage of development energetically. Everything about his life right now centers around self-expression. David is doing his “work.” How can mom affirm his need to be heard and seen and listened to, without getting pulled into a tempestuous squall? The answer lies in recognizing what is going on and responding appropriately. If you expect a few winds of rebellion, some blustery defensiveness and tumultuous irresponsibility, then your expectations are reasonable. Approaching the whole situation with humor and a willingness to listen and affirm will help. Kids who feel heard and seen are almost always willing to abide by the family rules. Kids who feel loved even when they blow off their homework or chores, kids who feel loved even when they look ridiculous or overreact, are the kids who easily transition into the next and final stage.