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Teenzilla and the Frontal Lobe

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AMY LORD
Amy Lord

I love reading articles from moms who breeze through life with their teenaged daughters as easy as the sun rises in the East. Well, I am here to say that as wonderful as my 17-year-old "ray of sunshine" is she is more like a hurricane in the wind these days.

I have nicknamed her teenzilla. I wrestled with the name Regan (Exorcist) and King Kong, but she seems most like Godzilla these days; misunderstood as she barrels through the world, unaware of the damage she causes.

I consider myself to be a "cool" mom. I roll with the punches, stay out of her room when her friends are over and I even stopped reading her texts when she was in the shower. OK, truth be told, I still sneak a peek every now and again. But in general, I don't show up at parties, peek through windows or have one of those tracking devices attached to her phone.

My teenzilla is much more tame then I was at her age. She doesn't smoke cigarettes or the "medicinal stuff," she is not sneaking Bartle and James wine coolers under her winter jacket or sneaking out of the house to meet the bad boys. In fact, compared to my teenzilla behaviors, she could be considered borderline angelic.

There is one thing though that I find different amongst the teens of the '80s and the teenzillas of today. It's the mouth. Not the shape or color or the ridiculous amount of Burt's Bees that is constantly being applied, its the words that come out of these precious beings. The curtness, disrespect and the sense of entitlement that spews from these oral volcanoes is astounding.

Parenting experts might suggest that I was too "cool" of a parent, or too easygoing.
Perhaps. I never felt the need to seriously punish my kids. They lost privileges, TV time and they had to endure hours of "mommy lectures". And until recently, all ran pretty smoothly.

I have recently found that this teenzilla mouth syndrome is rampant amongst High School Juniors, especially in the Los Angeles area. One mom told me that this "lip service" was partially due to the frontal lobe.

I was instantly intrigued. Was there a reason for this ridiculous behavior? If so, was there a cure and was I going to be the next Freud of the teenage psyche? I finally found my calling!

As I Googled the frontal lobe and it's stages of development, I discovered this mom was right on track. The teenager's frontal lobes are sluggish. I continued to investigate, as this was going to be the closest I would ever get to being a brain surgeon.

As it turns out, the teenzilla doesn't have enough white matter or fatty tissue in the frontal lobe area. They are not entirely capable of realizing the effects their actions have on other people. They lack insight and insight requires a connected frontal lobe. It's not until the mid-twenties that the nerve endings connect. I was relieved and terrified at the same time. Ten more years of this? Seriously?

Needless to say, my new discovery and fascination didn't exonerate my mouthy girl from dealing with the wrath of mommy. (I still have to figure out what that is -- maybe a Barry Manilow concert). But, I now have something I can use in her defense. I can blame some of it on the frontal lobe. I just have to figure out what to do with her. I could keep her in a castle like Rapunzel for another decade or treat her like Cinderella and make her clean the floors. The possibilities are endless!

I suppose, like so many other parents of teenzillas, I will muddle through the murky waters of "teen" and come out the other end victorious. I will support and guide her to the best of my ability and we will meet up again when she is 24 with a connected frontal lobe.