Did you hug your kid today?  Did you give a friendly smile to a kid you didn’t know?

When they’re little kids, smiles and hugs seem to come naturally.  Don’t much have to think about this as it seems just being a “little one” makes them endearing.

So, I ought to be asking if you hugged your teenager today or if you smiled at one in the restaurant, at the bus stop or anywhere else you may have encountered someone else’s teen kid.

What happens to us or “them” that so drastically changes the dynamics of parenthood?

I’m sure the professionals can give a well-developed perspective from their academic training, but, darn, I don’t fit into that category.   However, I’ve got a hunch and a bunch of true life experiences that support the conclusions I’m about to share.

In normal situations,  we talk to babies in soft sweet tones.  They learn to smile back.  They learn to “coo” because we’ve spent time nurturing them.

The adults can enjoy this interaction because we feel rewarded.  Things are going our way.

We hug ‘em when they’re little,  as they are a small cuddly bundle and most times there is no resistance.

Resistance!

When in 7th grade, my daughter asked me as I drove her to school to please not let her out at the front of the campus because, she declared,  my car was old and dilapidated .

In her early years, she jabbered and probably cooed, while sitting in her car seat riding in that same old car (granted it was even older by junior high school).

Resistance tends to block the hugs and most often changes the soft sweet voice tones we once used in communicating with our offspring.

So, is it us or is it them?

And then there’s Christmas.

The younger they are, the less likely they are to demand what should be in the packages under the holiday  tree.  The  little ones are simply enchanted by the tree, the magical lights and the decorations.

Nary a youngster has taken a look at the decorations on the tree and determined they aren’t balanced.  Where’s the parent who can tell us their 5-year-old took all the decos off saying they would do the whole thing over because it just didn’t look right with the way the lights were strung?

But we know of teenagers who were ready to boycott the living room based on  unacceptable decorations, not to mention the attitudes many of them display when it comes to the gifts they open on Christmas Day.

It’s not them, it’s us.

Parents all too often fail to recognize that kids growing older means, quite simply, that
they have a mind of their own, which is not a bad thing, at all.  But the attitudes they develop are, in a large measure, what the parents have instilled.

It’s us.

Soft voice tones and warm hugs are still a good thing, even when the older kids are trying to chart their own courses that we just may not agree with.