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Parent Feels Unappreciated

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I have two teens in high school ages 14 and 15. I think I have given them everything they could want, yet they make me feel as though they don't like me. They complain if my two-year-old gets something they don't. This Christmas I gave them what they asked for and I didn't even get a card. Is this just a teenage blues thing or is it me?

A: During these teen years there are so many physical, emotional, and social rollercoaster rides, it's almost a certainty that teens are going to be alternately confused, insensitive, totally self-absorbed, and want nothing to do with their parents.

I think you need to step back, perhaps with the help of a family therapist, and trace your own motivations (often unconscious motivations) for parenting the way you have. There are reasons why you currently find yourself exploited, used, angry, and sad. What else is going on in your life that gives you feelings of competence, self-worth, and a sense of purpose? It's time you stopped giving to these kids in a manner that allows them to disappoint you with their selfishness. They need to hear from you how you genuinely feel about your relationship with them. It shouldn't involve blaming them anymore than it should involve blaming yourself. Seeing a therapist can give you a life and family perspective you are not currently capable of giving yourself. It can help you to take back the power you have given your teens to define who you are and what you are worth. You need these burdens and this grief lifted from your soul. Please take action.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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