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Monday, 22 May 2017

Do we ever really know a person?

While I was in Amsterdam, I went to Anne Frank's House, well worth the two hour wait (though try to book tickets in advance to avoid that if you are planning to visit). Obviously there's a lot to discuss there, but there was one thing that really resounded with me, and still pushes into my thoughts. At the end of the tour, Otto Frank, Anne's father discusses the diary, and his experience of reading the diary.
"It was quite a different Anne [than] I had known as my daughter. She never really showed this kind of inner feeling. She talked about many things, we criticized many things, but what really her feelings were, I only could see from the diary." He elaborates “And my conclusion is, as I had been in very, very good terms with Anne, that most parents don’t really know their children.”

We must remember we never really know the inner turmoil that people are going through, even if we live in the same house and see them daily. Add some friction and it's near impossible to see the wood for the trees.

Teenagers are by nature secretive creatures. It's our job to watch ever so carefully, and even then, the best detective can still miss the signs.

If you don't understand your child, or you discover things are not as you thought, take heart that even a parent who had a great relationship with his daughter, trapped in a small space with no outside distractions still had no idea who he was living with.

It is human nature to process events with our own filter, to make assumptions about the feelings and actions of others. I recently had my own motives twisted up by a friend to feed their own vanity. I was more taken aback that she'd distorted something I'd done many times before (and have done since) with what I thought was clearly kindness and generosity than her actual bitchiness and betrayal. She made my gesture seem so mean and petty. I felt she didn't know me at all. Hearing her badmouth me in such a way, in turn, has made me question her motives which I had naively and incorrectly thought I knew. I see her behaviour in relation to me a little more clearly now, and can I see how it has tainted some other past interactions, that at the time I found odd  but couldn't place why.  It's all makes more sense to me now.

If adults well into middle age can still get it so wrong, imagine what the teenage brain does with their perception?

I got tickets to see Flume with my eldest, thinking it would be a nice bonding experience. They were sullen and vile the whole night, so midway through I gave up even trying and just danced with the 20 year old next to me. On the way back to the car my child sniped "Don't you think I'm a little old to have to go to concerts with my mother now?". I replied "This wasn't about supervision. This was about me having no one to go with. None of my friends like Flume! I thought you'd be happy for the free ticket!" I pointed out they'd been to a number of concerts with their friends already. I could see the genuine surprise as they registered the answer. It also explained the ungrateful pissy mood that had ruined my evening. I had assumed we were on the same page but clearly we weren't at all.

As parents, it's our job not to be dummies or turn a blind eye and more importantly,we should not be dismissive of the weight these teenagers may be carrying on their shoulders, no matter how it manifests.

The 'troubled teen' is just that, troubled by something. Maybe it's better for all if we park our judgement and try to unravel the issues and reset the outcomes.

We need to listen, engage, spend time with and talk to our kids, even when it's a thankless and arduous task. Even when they don't want to. More importantly, even when we don't want to.

We will never really know another person, but we must try our best to.






26 comments:

  1. Teens are so hard. I got such attitude out of mine on the weekend all for the dire crime of asking them to help grocery shop as I have a bad back and it's too hard on my own. It was hurtful but I know she didn't mean it.

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  2. I think working with/parenting teens is such a minefield. As for your original question, I don't think we ever really know a person, even our nearest and dearest. We humans are such complex creatures, whatever our age!

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  3. Very interesting perspective. AS the parent of 4 teens and 1 adult, I am often reminded how little I know about my children, but not for lack of trying.

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  4. Great post! From my experience too despite trying teens and parents aren't always on the same wavelength!

    Ingrid
    http://www.fabulousandfunlife.blogspot.com.au

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  5. What a thoughtful and thought provoking post. I think it is the same for all of us. I can be in the same place, experiencing the same event/whatever with my husband but if I make a remark about an aspect of that, he will often say 'oh no I didn't see it that way'. I think NONE of us knows what another person is thinking nor their motives which in a way is sad but is also self-preserving. As for your 20 yo, yep...that's about it. Some days are good...others not so! Denyse xx

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    1. My teen is much younger than 20 - I just hijacked the random woman next to me who was a little surprised when I just moved in on her dancing...heh heh

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  6. Oh wow, I'm a little anxious about the teen years. I have visions of enjoying live music and shows with my kids. But I can totally see what you mean about getting on the same page.

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  7. You're right.
    The 'troubled teen' is just that, troubled by something.
    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Food for thought ...
    L xo

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  8. I really dread mine becoming teenagers for all the above reasons. It's funny I should read this as my post this week is about the same subject. I watched 13 reasons why and in this series the teenager is very good at hiding her feelings from her parents! Its so hard to know what to do for the best. I just hope I can open communication channels as much as possible with them ?!? x
    #ForTheLOVEofBLOG

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    1. I did notice the similarities of ideas in our posts - very different prompts or stimuli to get there...So you can't know a person but a lot of us think the same ;)

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  9. I love this so much, and I think it's entirely relevant with younger ones too! I quite often have those WTF? moments with my 3-year-old where I just cannot fathom the apparently entirely unwarranted meltdown, until eventually we manage to bit by bit drill down to the crux of the issue and I'm like "Oh!!!! I get it now, you should have said! Of course I can switch it to the blue cup!" Haha! #StayClassyMama

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  10. What a very provocative post. My littles are 9 and 6 and I'd like to think I know them, and they know me and the Mrs too. But you are right. Lot's of thinking to happen over this poser. TY. #fortheloveofblog xo

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  11. That is so true. Do we ever really know everything about anyone. Nope. #fortheloveofblog

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  12. Oh Lydia, I have experienced all of this, currently I have 6 teenagers, I feel I am becoming an expert in their moods and behaviour now, when to react and when not to. It is never easy but they do come round and the old them shines through in a new adult guise. #KCACOLS

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  13. Very true! And I think it's pretty cool that you want to do fun things with your kids. :)

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  14. You are right, we never really truly know another person. Our kids don't ever really know us either.... Pen x #KCACOLS

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  15. This post is definitely an insight into what the future holds for me. Having worked in mental health for 8 years, I always try to understand a person's behavior before judging or jumping to conclusions but I very often get it wrong. Either that or people aren't as honest as I wish they would be. I believe we are all misunderstood and no one but ourselves can truly fully know another person, whether they are our child or not. Human nature by default is surprising in my opinion.

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  16. ps. Thanks for linking up.
    #KCACOLS

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  17. I loved this, so thoughtful. And so true, my daughter is 14 and it's amazing how often things can get misconstrued. And I'm so sorry to hear about your so-called friend situation too, it happens to the best of us but it's never nice when it does so I'm glad you've seen her for what she is, and at least in the future you will treat her according to this new knowledge. Lovely post. #kcacols

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  18. This is definite food for thought. I've got a few years yet before my eldest hits her teens, but I'm already shit scared! I was a horrible teenager and I know I never really spoke honestly to my parents about what was going on with me and it terrifies me to think that my daughters might be the same, and worse, think the horrible things I did when I was a teen. Hopefully I can lay some groundwork now to make it easier in the future.
    #teamIBOT

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  19. I think that even as adults we keep things underwraps and close to our chests. I often think that I never really knew my friends until I had my daughter, which is a shame, as I feel closer to some now, but a million miles away from others. This is a really interesting and thought provoking post. Thanks so much for linking up at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

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  20. I agree it is indeed hard to know someone well but like you say we must try. I'm sorry your friend and your children didn't understand your motivation and took it the wrong way. This is a lovely and thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing with #StayClassyMama

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  21. great post. It's so hard getting teenagers to communicate, this is something that I grapple with often. There have been many times when I've been completely shocked by her and the things she's done. #KCACOLS

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  22. I love this post! I don't have teenagers yet but I'm only a few years away. Thank you for sharing and linking up to #MummyMondays at All Mum Said.

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  23. I often wonder how people perceive my nephew. He's done some stupid stuff but he's actually a really good kid. Patient with his little sister (who's six) her friends and his cousin my son - who's only a baby. Loves cats and but looks like a scruffbag lol. #kcacols

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  24. I'm just entering the teen year with my eldest so far it's good but I know there is a storm to come (although I hope not) #KCACOLS

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