Let’s talk teens. We often have this expectation that the teen years will be the toughest. Personally, I blame the older folks who have warned us of that for our dread.
If I had a nickel for every time I was told, “Enjoy them now; little kids, little problems. Big kids, BIG problems!” I could afford to hire a private investigator to track my teen’s every move when out of the house.
(Veteran Parent Tip: Tracking your teen on iPhone’s “Find My Friends” before they are aware of it goes a long way in making them think, at least initially, that you really ARE all-knowing.)
Three of my six kids are currently teenagers, and I can tell you that there are many genuine joys and laughs to be had once your kids are older. There are plenty of good moments & beautiful memories still to be made.
But there are also a lot of unknowns as we embark into parenting during the teenage years, and often it can feel like walking through a minefield while blindfolded.
One mom’s Facebook post about some of the challenges of raising teens really drives home just how unsettling this phase of parenthood can be- for both you and your teenager.
Mom Whitney Fleming of the popular Facebook page Playdates on Fridays recently penned a Facebook post that began with the haunting line:
The teenage years will break you.
(Having just had a loud & messy verbal blowout with my oldest teen daughter yesterday morning, I was already feeling this!)
It will test your resolve, your patience, your parenting choices.
Remember that Terrible Two’s stage that you thought you’d never survive? Well, buckle up, because the patience required to guide your kids through their teens years can easily rival that. And then some.
It will make you feel lonely and ostracized when you’re the only parent saying no.
Confession: My husband & I are the “strict parents”. Or so my daughter claims, anyway. The accusation often flares up in the heat of confrontation, when our daughter wants to do something that we just don’t think it appropriate for her age.
But it’s not easy to stick to your “strict” decisions sometimes, even if you know they are what’s best for your child. Especially when it seems like you’re the only parents doing so.
You feel your child’s disappointment. You might remember how left out you felt in a similar moment in your own teen years. You internally question yourself- “Did I do the right thing?”
While you don’t waver on the outside, one the inside you churn with worry, self-doubt, and an occasional game of second-guessing your parenting decisions. Sometimes ALL OF THEM.
You choose your battles, trying not to react to every frustration.
And when your teen blows it big-time, because they just do sometimes,
It will test your ability to forgive when your teenager messes up—which they will, over and over again.
One of the most difficult situations as a parent is to watch your child “mess up”- make a bad decision or do something plain dangerous and/or stupid- and learn to forgive them.
Again. And again. And again.
It can feel impossible in those moments to remember that they are still kids that are still learning to navigate this complicated world.
And how about the DRIVING? There’s the endless Mom-Uber service once they have active social lives. You’re exhausted. And weary.
It will make you bone-tired from driving and worry and worry and driving.
But then they get their driver’s license. So while there’s no more Mom-Ubering necessary, all those hours of driving are replaced with the nagging worry about your teen driving without you
You’re still exhausted… waiting up until your son or daughter arrives home safely.
But it’s not as if raising teenagers is entirely about worry and fear; there are many moments that change your perspective on so much: your child, the world, even yourself.
Your heart will burst with happiness when you hear how kind they’ve been to a stranger.
(Especially when you witness how they can typically be at home with their siblings, am I right??)
You’ll feel unabashed pride as they find their passions, finish their education, start chasing their dreams.
There is something so tremendously heartwarming about watching your child begin to find his or her place in the (adult) world. He or she often chooses a path so different from your own, yet so beautifully suited to “fit” him or her.
You will learn to accept change, because there is no turning back.
*cue the ugly cry here* Anyone else parenting a teen that is now a high school senior, accepted to colleges and preparing for a life outside of our home?? It’s change. It’s GOOD change, but it’s still a bittersweet one.
You will buy the best snacks so they’ll want to bring their friends over, and you’ll spend your last dollar at Starbucks just to get a few extra moments in the car with them.
ACCURATE. People have gifted me Starbucks cards many times, am I’m not ashamed that I’ve used them to lure one of my teens with the promise of a Frappacino in order to snag some quality driving time with him or her.
The money spent: at least $100 in gift cards. The memories: PRICELESS.
Yes, these teenage years will break you in every way; but, if you’re lucky, you’ve raised people who will help put you back together again.
Raising teenagers truly is a challenging phase of parenting, but that doesn’t mean it’s one to fear or dread. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
While your teen’s behavior may seem to indicate that he or she is pulling away, or resenting your decisions, or flipping through moods as quick as a Vegas dealer shuffles cards, the reality is: you’re still there loving them.
You’re still present. You’re still being consistent- even if you doubt yourself. You’re still their rock, even when it might feel to you that the storm’s waves are creeping too close for comfort.
Adolescence is a hard phase of life- it requires a balance of reigning in yet also letting go. The push & pull creates tension. But in the end, you’ll both survive- and your teen will know you were his or her biggest supporter in the hardest moments.
The teenage years will break you.It will test your resolve, your patience, your parenting choices.It will make you…