No one should have to live with their own teenagers.

Don't get me wrong. I love my daughter and hope she lives with me until her grandchildren turn gray, but this is not the case in all households. Reports abound of teens fighting with their parents, getting grounded, running away or being kicked out. Such confrontations are not unique to our times and there are natural reasons for tension on both sides.

For parents it seems like just yesterday that these young adults were totally dependent children. There is little evidence of the transition until the dynamic has changed drastically. Babies and children have signals and techniques for getting their parents to do what they cannot do themselves. Parents are programmed biologically to respond. These means of control are not lost when our children first mature. In fact they are often applied in ever more sophisticated ways as our children's intellectual capacity expands. For longer than they can remember, we have provided for all their needs. It is not surprising that they expect this to continue as they make the seamless transition to adult capability.

And what capabilities they are! Can those of us with teenage children remember what becoming adult was like? We were already in control of our bodies. We could run, jump, climb, carry things and intricately manipulate objects with our hands. With the additional foot in height and fifty pounds of structure and muscle there was little on the physical plane that we could not do. Into our capable physical forms intellectual power incarnated. The capacity to comprehend took on new dimensions. Sense could be made of anything to which we turned our minds. As adults we take this for granted, but for those to whom it is new, a sense of omnipotence joins the vigor of youth. It will be another ten years before they truly appreciate that all humans are extraordinary. In the meantime the feeling of omnipotence is eagerly received by strong young minds not yet worn from decades of use. The wonder and bravado only expands with the arrival of sexuality and its proven power to overcome time and laugh at the trials of lifetimes and millennia.

So here we are with our omnipotent and very capable babies, unconscious masters of the buttons and strings which biology programmed into us to assure their care. They expect us to provide for their every need, yet, they are capable of doing almost anything themselves and want to direct their own lives. We are in charge, responsible for their well-being and somewhat better informed about the consequences of actions. It becomes confusing as to who should be telling who what to do.

No wonder sparks fly.
These same overgrown children, whose diapers we changed, are seen entirely differently by other adults. When we relate with other teens (not necessarily those next door who we have also known since their early years) we are not encumbered by memories of their helplessness. We see them eye to eye as we see any adult. We may have different interests and experiences, but there are no major obstacles to communications. Other peoples' teenagers don't have access to our buttons and strings and they are often eager to be accepted as adults and will relate directly with us.

If circumstances make home life unpleasant, rather than letting aggravations mount into dramatic confrontations with our closest kin, consider trading teenagers for a time. Through friends, the Village Office or some community organization, families that are ready for change could find each other. You could exchange your overgrown child for someone else's young adult and your child in turn could be a young adult in someone else's home. Such an arrangement with another family could break the cycle that can lead those dear to us to leave in anger, sometimes never to return.

Different families live in different ways. Experiencing the difference in lifestyles can provide an invaluable cultural experience which would serve them well as they move into our multifaceted world with its many challenges. Young people change rapidly; especially in a new environment. It wouldn't take many months to break old patterns and allow us to reunite with our young people in a way that is compatible with the adulthood they are entering.