Do you know your teen’s love language?
My oldest son’s love language is acts of service (more specifically, when things are made neat and tidy for him).
Now, my kids do their chores. It’s their responsibility to clean their rooms, do their laundry, and take ownership of their space. But my son is currently juggling a ton of work with school, rehearsals 4 nights a week as he’s in 3 different performances right now, and he’s gotten behind on his linens and keeping up his laundry.
(If you know me at all, you know that I love to do laundry and have nice fresh linens on my bed… We’re a lot alike, he and I.)
So I had to make a choice. I could take the heaping pile of dirty laundry and make it about me. I could tell myself I’ve had enough to deal with these past few days and that I’m also handling a very overloaded work schedule. I could lay more responsibility on him and favor my own comfort over his stress level.
Or… I could reflect on the things he is doing well and the kind of person he is.
Only one of those options is going to result in a happy, healthy, collaborative relationship between me and my teen. I chose to use my teen’s love language to break the cycle of frustration.
It Ain’t Easy, But They’re Good Kids
And I’ll be honest, taking that high road is not always easy. This time around, my husband had to remind me, “Kelly, we have really great kids. They don’t talk back. They are super respectful. They have great friends. They are kind young men.”
So I chose to reflect and do an act of service for my son. I took the day off work and stripped the bed, (with the 4 blankets and the family of stuffed animals- all received a fresh cleaning!) and did 7 loads of laundry while he was at school. And I didn’t do it with a bad attitude. I did it while reflecting that he’s under a lot of stress. He’s been through a lot this year. He’s had to pivot in ways he wasn’t prepared to pivot. And, he is finally happy and involved in what he loves: theatre!
He’s gotten his social life back, his school life is on track and he is in a really great mental “space” right now. All of this helps with our kids’ happiness, their serotonin level, all that good stuff. (Check out my sleep tips for ADHD to boost those serotonin levels too.)
And to take the gratitude a step further, I didn’t even toot my own horn. I didn’t text him in the middle of the day to give him a heads up. I didn’t make him feel guilty with some undercutting comment about how I’m on load 5 of 7! (See my blog on the power of your words.) Because I wanted it to be a simple act of love that would let him know I’m really rooting for him, no matter the circumstances, no matter his attitude, no matter if he noticed all my hard work or not. This was about him as much as it was about me.
What is My Teen’s Love Language
As you think about your situation right now, does it fill you with frustration or are you able to look past the little things and see the really good kid you’re parenting? No judgement here! I admit that it’s hard to peel back the layers sometimes.
So while I’m sure you’re burning out just as fast as your kids are this time of year, take a minute to reflect. If you’re feeling frustrated (or even if you’re not), find out your teen’s love language (there’s a really great 5 love languages quiz for teens here!) and do something for them that will remind the both of you that you’re rooting for them. ADHD teenagers are good kids. Remember, anxiety and ADHD go hand in hand. Let them know they can vent and struggle and even fail around you, and it’s all okay because you’re their safe space. They’re struggling, but they want to do well. Don’t make it about you (I know you’ve been through a lot this year too). Instead, pick one thing you can do to show them you know how hard they’re trying.
Whether they really appreciate it or not (and my son did- he gave me a huge hug and told me how much he loved me!), you’ll feel a lot happier toward your teen and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be standing with a smile on your face in a clean bedroom that smells like a summer breeze.
For more tips and advice on parenting that ADHD Meltdown Teenager, join us in the Facebook group: Parenting ADHD Teens!