Missing: Teen Brains

Part of my job as social media manager for a diabetes nonprofit is to attend and recap educational events featuring medical professionals or other experts on diabetes. Most of the time the information shared is relevant only to people with type 1 diabetes, but many times I come home with pearls of wisdom that apply to anyone.

My latest a-ha moment came during a talk by a clinical psychologist who works with teens with type 1 diabetes. He was talking about getting teens to manage their condition more diligently. He said that teens are pretty much developmentally incapable of thinking about the long-term health consequences of diabetes because part of their brain is missing. That prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that deals with executive function, attention, is not yet fully developed in teens. It won't fully develop until their mid-20’s, and even mid-30’s.

Now that I'm a parent to three teenagers, that has become my mantra. Part Of Their Brain Is Missing. This is what I tell myself when they've done something aggravating or annoying or just plain mystifying. This is what I tell myself when I want to yell out, "What were you thinking????".  Here are just a few examples of the times I've resorted to my new mantra over the past few weeks:

Dad to teen: You left the cap off this bottle of lotion. Could you please come upstairs and put it back on?
Teen: Okay!  *walks upstairs, gets bottle of lotion, squeezes some lotion out onto hands, rubs lotion onto hands, goes back downstairs without putting cap back on

Dad to teen: Did you drink the milk from the gallon with the red cap? It smells like it's been bad for a week!
Teen: Yeah.
Dad: What?? Couldn't you smell it?
Teen: Umm... yeah.
Dad: So why did you drink it?? Why didn't you drink from the other gallon container of milk?
Teen: Well, I poured milk from both gallons into my glass so it wouldn't taste so bad.

Mom to teen: *whispers*  Can you keep it down, please, your sister is still asleep.
Teen: *whispers* Sure.
Teen: *drops a full laundry basket onto the wooden floor with a giant bang*

Mom to teen: Don't shoot that Nerf gun near the tv! You'll hit the tv screen!
Teen: *aims Nerf gun at wall approx. 2 feet away, Nerf bullet ricochets off wall and into tv screen*.

Deep Breath.

Part Of Their Brain Is Missing.

I have a feeling I'll be saying that to myself a lot over the next decade.

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