From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
You have a child. The compensation for taking care of dirty diapers and walking him endlessly at 3AM when little Johnny is sick is that he comes to look up to you in a most flattering way. When you come to a crossroad with your pre-teen and say, “Take my hand, Johnny,” he’ll look up to you with wide-eyed innocence and –dare I say? – abundanrt wonder, and put his hand in yours, saying, “Yes, daddy!” as you both cross the street. And there will be a time, from roughly his 20’s on, when you and he will be best of friends. That seems to be the way the thing is designed.
But in between comes the teen years when the respect thing goes into a kind of semi-permanent eclipse. He will have found the chinks in your armor during his first 10 or 12 years, and exploited them. You’ll drive him to school and he’ll tell you, “drop me off three blocks away because I don’t want to be seen by my friends driving in this heap of junk you drive.” And that’s not all - one day, out of the blue, he’s going to say something like this: “I don’t care whatever else you do, just don’t play any of that dorky music of yours when my friends are around.” Only the adjective will probably be more colorful than “dorky.” And don’t think you’re off the hook if you both like the same kind of music, he’s sure to gravitate toward some other issue, and he’ll do it as naturally as water goes downhill.
You’ll be sorely tempted to say, as some parents do say, “My house, my rules. You don’t like it, get out!” Hopefully he won’t take you up on your “offer” because you won’t say anything that fraught with danger.
You’re the adule here; you need to bear in mind what your teenage Johnny can’t put his/her finger on: that kid desperately needs your unconditional love at the very time he consistently does whatever it takes to forfeit his right to it. Johnny wants to be treated like an adult even when he doesn’t deserve it. He will crave your approval even as he drives you nuts rejecting you.
Oh, and one final thing: the emotional eclipse thing will last pretty much for the entirety of the teen years. If you remember correctly, that’s pretty much the way you treated your parents, right? In fact, it’s just the way humans are wired [and that even goes for your little darling].
Be ready for it.