Why Do Teenagers Make Life So Much Harder for Themselves?

Finding matching socks and making lunch are not earth-shattering tasks.

teen girl changing clothes with laundry on floor

Photo by Smith Collection/Getty Images

Photo by Smith Collection/Getty Images

Yesterday my son needed some matching socks. He was complaining as he was sifting through the dryer acting like the world was going to come crashing down.

After I suggested he take his clothes out of the dryer and perhaps fold them, he'd be more likely to find a matching pair, he still refused.

Apparently, that was the most horrible idea ever as it involved "too much work." He then proceeded to complain and look for those socks for a good fifteen minutes which made him late meeting his friend, which cut his time with them shorter. Which was also my fault.

All the while I was thinking, life doesn't have to be this hard. Why do he do this to himself?

Fast forward to the next day when I asked my daughter to take all the dirty water glasses out of her room and wash them after she let me know we didn't have any clean dishes. After hearing this I tried my best not to raise my voice.

"It's so simple,” I told her. "If you know you like to drink out of those glasses, but hoard them in your room, you won't have any clean ones to drink from!"

And when my youngest put his head down on the kitchen island for over an hour and hemmed and hawed about the writing project he had to do instead of just buckling down and doing it, I reminded him the energy he was using for all the complaining he was doing could have gone toward actually writing the paper—he could have been done.

Don't get me started on the way teens complain: There is no food in house after I've just spent all my money at the grocery store. What they are actually saying is "there's nothing quick and easy for me to grab, I actually have to make stuff and that's not what I want to do."

Since it's easier for them to stand with the fridge wide open for 10 minutes and say we have nothing than it is for them to throw a frozen pizza in the oven or cut up some leftover chicken and make chicken salad, I find it's easier for me to relax and just let them go hungry. They won't listen to my suggestions anyway.

Trying to teach your teenagers to buckle down and take control of a situation they aren't happy with takes all of my patience, so I decided to stop and let them sweat it out on their own. According to them, I have no idea what I'm talking about since in their mind I don't know the emotional struggle that stems from not being able to find my favorite shirt or get my math homework done.

I think in their eyes, I've never been anything but a mother and the feeling of angst that goes over them when they are late to a sporting event because they can't find their jersey or cleats is all my fault even though they are the ones who left said items in the car. Or their room. Or under the sofa.

I guess the best thing to do is keep my mouth shut and let them figure out they are making their life so much harder than it needs to be on their own. They certainly aren't going to take my advice about how if they did their chores without complaint, I would be more prone to buy them those sneakers they want "that everyone else has" and more likely to drop them off at the movies with their friends if they were able to show more gratitude for all the times I've driven them around. Instead, they seem to think acting like their taxi service is owed to them.

As I look back to my teen years, I wonder if I made life this hard for myself (and my parents), and while I'm pretty sure I didn't, they may have a different answer.

If I'm being honest, I'm almost looking forward to the day when my kids come to me and ask why their kids feel the need to make their life harder than it needs to be. I'll try and be the bigger person and listen without making remarks about how they refused to put their shoes away and left them in the middle of the floor, but I certainly can't make any promises.