Why do teenagers write so much
That is why puberty can be fun for your own children
Unpredictable outbursts of anger, experiments with alcohol, bad grades - puberty is not an easy time, neither for the adolescents themselves nor for their parents. Maja Overbeck, author of the book "I love Teens"explains in the interview why she still describes her son's puberty as the best time of her motherhood, and gives tips on how other teenage parents can also enjoy this time.
t-online.de: Ms. Overbeck, In the foreword to your book it says "For me this is the best time of my parenting life." Many parents would probably not subscribe to it that way. Why do you see it that way?
Maja Overbeck: For one thing, I found it more exhausting than other mothers to be the mother of a toddler. That wasn't because of my son, of course, but because I didn't get along well with not being able to really communicate with him. That's why I think it's all the more great that a relationship is now developing on an equal footing. We can now talk about things and resolve conflicts - which are endless, no question - on another level. It is no longer my responsibility alone, we are both part of a good relationship now.
And on the other?
On the other hand, I think teenagers are just great per se. I like the directness with which they give feedback, how brave they are, that they just don't care about many things, that they are ready to offend, to take risks, to accept anger. Things like that that we don't do anymore as adults. If you manage to recognize the positive in it from a little distance, this time can also be a lot of fun for parents.
As a mother or father, do you have to change a few things in yourself in order to be able to "enjoy" the child's puberty?
The most important thing for me is to question your expectations. All parents have some form of expectation of their child. How it should behave, what should become of it, who should be best friends, how long it should go out in the evening, how much alcohol it should drink, simply on any topic. This is completely normal. But you can also question them from time to time. And it's best to pick a few that aren't that important and let them go.
Do you have any other tips for parents of pubescent children?
You should just let the child do it, quietly withdraw a little and take care of your own things more. In my book I have described this as "disinterest". That sounds negative at first, but I actually mean it positively: some things parents just don't need to know. You shouldn't worry too much. Even though I know it's incredibly difficult.
Maja Overbeck, 50, studied business administration and psychology. As a trend researcher, copywriter and in marketing, she has dealt intensively with communication and behavioral psychology. She lives in Munich with her husband and 16-year-old son. "I love teens. How fun it is to accompany our children through puberty." (published by Piper-Verlag) is her first book.
Why do you find letting go so important?
I am a great friend of trust and freedom. Both from my experience and from what teenagers have told me. For example, when it comes to going out times: Parents who are very strict about it, i.e. who tell their teenagers when he or she should be at home, usually find that their child does not adhere to them, that they rebel against their parents. And interestingly enough, the moment parents let go, they say to their 15- or 16-year-old: "You, this is your responsibility. I trust you. Just let us know where you are." exactly what you want happens, namely that the child behaves responsibly. Serenity and personal responsibility work better with teenagers than exercise of power and strict boundaries. That is my experience. Even though I know that opinions are divided on this particular issue.
A night in front of the toilet bowl, confrontations with the police, a messed up school year: You say that young people should have such experiences calmly. Why?
Current brain research shows that - to put it simply - one learns only through experience. Just as the toddler sometimes has to touch the stove, the adolescent may have to sit in the police station. Not everyone has such drastic experiences. But through this you get to know the individual limits of what still feels comfortable and what doesn't. When there is an understanding home at home, such experiences ultimately develop into a good personal balance. In order to be able to say as an adult: "I've had the experience, but I don't always need it."
How can you, as a parent, achieve a more relaxed attitude?
By trust. If you trust that the child will go a good way, then the child will feel it. It will then perhaps experience some drastic things during puberty, but it will happen to itself - and not the parents! - feel and think: "That was a little bit crazy." In such a situation, however, parents should already express their opinion. To me, being on an equal footing means that parents take a position anyway, for example making it clear: "It's not okay that you take drugs. That's something we reject." On the other hand, to signal openness, to talk about it: "Why is it interesting for you?" I think you have to be able to express your opinion without devaluing the child because they want to try things out.
They complain that young people are mainly told what they are bad at.
As parents, you have to keep reminding yourself that puberty is no fun for young people either. That is why, in my opinion, it is very important that parents strengthen their children's self-confidence and self-confidence. Teenagers get one on the lid every day at school. They are only told what they cannot and that they are the last whistle. If you compare that with toddlers, they are already praised for going to the loo, you wonder why that is. Why not look at the qualities of young people that they are good at, even if they are perhaps not as superficial as school success? You can discover so many valuable qualities: young people have great opinions on politics, understanding of others, ideas.
Author Maja Overbeck thinks young people are really good. (Source: private)
"A sudden total failure is to be expected at any time": You also mention brain research in your book. So why do young people freak out from one moment to the next?
According to the latest research, everything in the brain develops all over again during puberty. Connections are challenged, some become solidified and others just die away. During this development period it is like on a construction site - a line is torn out somewhere because something is being rebuilt. And that goes from back to front in the brain. In front, however, is the frontal cortex, which is responsible for reason. In an adult, the emotional system sends to this cortex. He then appeases before reacting. This area is the most expensive and the last to be rebuilt with teenagers, because it sometimes fails. And that is why many emotions are often converted into actions immediately. The impulse-driven behavior, the freaking outs, the deeply sad breakdowns that we parents experience all have to do with this restructuring. And the crazy-playing hormones make it even worse.
How difficult did your own parents have with you as a teenager?
I think they didn't have that difficult. I was more of the good kind and did well at school. The whole school topic is therefore a huge one for me and my son. Unfortunately, I have too little understanding for him because I didn't find it all that stressful. Too often I ask myself: what's the problem?
You often describe your son's behavior as an example in your book. What does your son think of it?
Before I started to write, we discussed this very long and often. And it was totally fine with him, otherwise I wouldn't have started in the first place. During the writing, however, there were always phases when he was completely unhappy with it. I suffered from that, questioned everything. But a few days later everything was okay again. Now I believe that in the end it's not only okay for him, but that he's even happy. Because from my point of view, the book is also a declaration of love to him.
(Source: Piper Verlag) Maja Overbeck: "I love teens. How fun it is to accompany our children through puberty." Published by Piper. ISBN 978-3-492-05893-3.
So writing was also a little roller coaster ride for you - like in puberty?
Yes, in any case. It was a roller coaster ride, but I also learned a lot from it. My son and I really have a very intense, close relationship now. While I was writing, it was more like learning-by-writing. I already had a certain attitude towards the various topics. But it was only through writing that I internalized it. But I'm still not an expert on education. I'm a completely normal mother who just reflects a little more.
You spoke to many young people for your book. Was there a topic that stuck in your mind?
It wasn't so clear to me before that there was actually no privacy among young people, especially among girls. They all told me that when they have a boyfriend, they immediately send everything he writes to the next friend. I also passed on earlier, but this is different from a screenshot that is distributed immediately. That's extreme.
You studied psychology and did a lot of communication. Did that in any way prepare you for your son's puberty so that you at least had communication strategies ready?
Prepared may be the wrong word. But I have an interest in it. I've always been interested in why people act how. And because of that, my observer's gaze is probably more pronounced than with others. Even in marketing - where I worked for a long time with the target group of children and young people - it's always about what people are doing and why. This interest in it is actually one reason why I wanted to deal so intensively with puberty.
Thank you for the interview.
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