Taming the Teen Drama Queen
The Taming of the Teen Drama Queen
By Lisa Robinson
Many of us are well into the treadmill of school, errands
and more activities that we can count. But those of us with teens—especially
teenaged daughters—are not hearing school bells.
It’s more like, “Oh My God! Oh My God! Oh My God!”
That’s the line they repeat after every phrase, word or
sentence. After talking to my peers with teenaged daughters, I’ve come to
realize that we all have the same instant-messaging, cell phone-using, I-Pod-listening
daughters living in our homes.
At one point near the end of last school year, the Oh-My-Gs
got so out of hand while I was driving a group of girls, I had to sharply order
them to stop. Once we got to our destination, the chorus started again.
I simply told them, “Good-bye. It’s time to get out of the
I couldn’t take it anymore.
Last year, as I struggled to get through ninth grade with my
14-year-old, my mantra became, “Four more years! Four more years!”
No, I wasn’t singing the praises of our president. It was a
reminder of how much longer I would have to deal with all of the drama before
she goes off to college.
So, with the help of friends and experts, I’ve come up with
a 10-step program to get me through this year. A lot of it I’ve devised from
the advice of parents who’ve been there and are now walking around the world in
bliss because their teens are off on their own and actually doing pretty well. I
also called on Dr. Mamood Jahromi, a child and adolescent psychiatrist of St
Joseph’s Medical Center, for a few helpful tips.
Diluting the Drama
Here’s my plan… maybe it will work for all of us looking for
ways to cope during these dramatic times.
1. Accept that “Oh My God!” is a phrase here to stay until
the next fashionable one appears on the scene.
2. Don’t laugh at anything she says unless she is laughing
too. Even the simplest things that come out of your teen daughter’s mouth that
you think are funny may not be to her. Wait for a sign that says you can laugh.
Otherwise, you are hurting feelings and the drama will definitely last all day.
3. Accept that you will be an unpaid chauffeur until your
daughter learns to drive and you give in to letting her use your car… or you
buy her one. I must add, however, that I have considered charging my own
daughter at least a dollar each way for trips to and from all activities
outside of school or sports, but I’ve since come to my senses and realize I’d
be taking from myself.
4. I’d like to say “no” to all activities outside of school
or sports. But Jahromi says we can’t do that because it’s a teenager’s job to
learn how to manage the social skills she’ll need as a responsible adult. Instead,
Jahromi says, “Don’t become a ‘yes parent.’ Don’t become a ‘no parent.’”
He suggests having a dialogue with your daughter about what
is expected. Know the details about events. Ask what she will be doing. What is
the adult supervision? Is there a special boy you like who’s going to be there?
5. Listen! Listen! Listen! Jahromi says that, when getting
the answers to those questions, try to be neutral.
“Take the assumptions out of the tone of your voice and lose
the evil eye,” he warns, adding that your teen will see and hear that you don’t
6. Try to not sweat the small stuff—such as the piles of
clothes, books, make-up, used towels, shoes and who-knows-what-else in her
room. I try to just close the door. After all, it does get a bit cleaned up
when she wants to do something and I bring up the room issue.
7. Ignore the hysterics if it’s about little things. This is
especially important if you are both in a hormonal time of the month. You know
the drill: bad hair, nothing to wear, I have a lot of homework, the cereal is
all gone. “Whatever!”
8. Don’t take the backtalk personally. This is one of my
favorites because it is so hard to do. Jahromi says it’s more about her than
fighting with you or a sign of defiance.
“It’s all about your teenager developing her identity and
standing her ground as a teenager,” he explains. He adds that very often this
is a good thing because it shows you’ve taught her to stand up for herself.
9. Rejoice when a teacher or coach tells you, “You have such
a lovely young lady. She really is a great leader, respectful, and we love
having her here.”
Do not look surprised—it’s a sign that you’re doing a good
10. Finally, remember that it’s only for a few more years. The
other night while driving to work at 3 a.m., I got a little sad and said to myself,
“Oh My God! She’s leaving in three years—I’m going to miss her. Oh My God! Oh
My God! Oh My God!”
Baltimore’s Child Nov., 2006