By now most of America has seen the infamous recent television appearance by Kate Gosselin with her twins on NBC’s The Today Show. It started off promisingly enough, with the 13-year-old twins clamoring to talk about “how normal their lives are." Compelling stuff! What transpired was both shocking and sad. The twins were painfully silent on live television, creating the dreaded dead air. After glares and a curt “Use your words!” from Kate in response to their silence, one of the twins uttered a few sentences. Whew!

The resulting debate centered upon Kate’s fitness as a parent, conjured up memories of Mommy Dearest, questioned the twins' sanity (they're fine), and suggested that their performance was meant to get back at their mother. What an intriguing concept. Are teens that smart and deceptive?


Teens certainly know how to push mom’s buttons. Television and radio personality Wendy Williams recently burst into tears when talking about her 13-year-old son, who "doesn’t like me anymore.” She didn’t get the memo: No crying when raising a 13-year-old. Really? Of course not.

The reality is that 13-year-olds will try you to make you question your own sanity. They alter their personalities and responses to situations in the blink of an eye. The same cuddly child giving you hugs and saying, “I love you, Mom,” can give you a look and spew words that make you search for the 666 that must be somewhere on her forehead.

Thirteen. Hormones are raging, friends are confusing, parents are annoying and life can feel full of pressure and confusion. The good life…

Instead of labeling them as crazy or mean, we need to just hang with them and show them love. We must parent with limits and consequences in spite of how they push back. Remember when you were 13 and how easily you communicated with your parents? Yeah, right.

If you need proof that teens come around, fast-forward to the Gosselin segment on The View a few days later after their initial debacle. The girls were pleasant, relaxed and laughing. It was good to see, as it was further proof that if you wait long enough, the kids have a way of letting you know that they’re all right.

Has your teen ever tried your patience in public? Post a comment below and tell us what happened.

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet.

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