To My Teens: This Is What Parenting Looks Like


Listen you two, I know you detest being parented and I am so very utterly sorry, not sorry about that. I know you think you wish your dad and I would just check out already and let you go about your merry, teenage way. But I know better. I know you need parenting.


One of my parents did check out, and I promise you when that happens, it’s way, way worse than being parented.

And I promise you that you will never have to know that firsthand like I do.

I will always bear the scars from the acute parental apathy and disregard in a parent deciding, “I can’t even.” What you think are your own scars from being parented, those are not scars. They are the marks of love.

Because being parented means you’re being loved.

Love is absolutely where we parent from. Not from perfection, or right-on-the-money type accuracy, surety or foolproof wisdom. But definitely and always from love.

We get a lot of things wrong, we need a lot of do-overs, but never where loving you is concerned.

Checking in with you about missing homework that’s dragging your grade into the mud? That’s love. That’s parenting.

Insisting you pitch in and do some chores to help make this household hum? That’s love. That’s parenting.

Teen rolling her eyes annoyed at parenting rules
Photo credit: Adobe Photo Stock

Limiting your use of the tiny computers you hold in your hands (that we PAY FOR!) that ruin the C-curves in your necks and give you access to the whole of the frightening and  hurtful world so that you can rest your brain and lower your anxiety level?

So much love and parenting in that.

Telling you no, even if we don’t need to, for the sake of not giving you everything you ever desire for the very brief time you desire it (before it’s tossed aside and forgotten about)? That too is love, and parenting.

Holding you accountable, insisting that you learn it’s not the mistakes you make, it’s what you do right after that counts? Yep, also love, also parenting.

Demanding you get amazingly good at gratitude and at recognizing those who go out of their way for you, at giving back, at paying it forward? You guessed it: more love, more parenting.

Having rules, setting boundaries, creating expectations? Then painstakingly and consistently enforcing all of the above? Oodles of love and parenting in that.

The desire to see you become humble and kind, generous and inclusive, forgiving, capable, motivated, ambitious, self-sufficient, free-thinking adults that know right from wrong, who own up to it if you falter? That’s love. That’s parenting.

Taking the easier road by turning the other cheek, ignoring you, failing to guide you and shape you? Or succumbing to the heart-wrenching worry that you won’t like us anymore if we exercise discipline when it’s warranted? Giving up or quitting on you?

So not love, so not parenting.

We will continue to love you, by parenting you, no matter your scorn for it, like it’s our damn job. Because. It. Is.

And we are not quitters. We are in it to win it, you two. Nothing you can say or do will deter us. Not the eye rolls, not the push-back, not the stomping off, nor your flaring and sometimes frightening tempers.

We know that right now — even if you wanted to on a rare occasion — you can’t agree with the way we parent you.

We know that to “never validate your parents” is the first rule of Offspring Fight Club. You aren’t allowed to tell us we’re doing a good job until you’re at least not living with us anymore.

And usually not until you’re paying all of your own bills and raising your own kids and navigating your own careers and marriages.

You can’t tell us you appreciate the structure in your lives and consequences to your actions right now; that would break your code of conduct and get you thrown out of the club.

We get it.

We get it because we were in your shoes once. Cheaper shoes, and a lot less stylish, but still.

Someday you two will willingly quit that contentious club and when that happens you may even tell us that YOU get it now, you may even say thank you. We can wait for it.

It’s all part of parenting you, part of loving you, and we will never quit.

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Jodie Utter is a freelance writer & creator of the blog, Utter Imperfection. Her work has also been featured here on Her View From Home, Perfection Pending, Scary Mommy, Blunt Moms, Sammiches & Psych Meds, Grown & Flown and more. She calls the Pacific Northwest home and ambles about its captivating forests and breath-taking (quite literally, because brrrrrrr) bodies of water with her husband and two kids. Jodie is a Jill-of-all-trades by day, her favorite of which is writing. By night she's a voracious reader, film connoisseur, seeker of laughter, dancer (as long as no one is watching, you should be picturing Elaine on Seinfeld here) and board game player. Give her a heart-wrenching, tear-tugging story to connect with others in via either the reading or the writing of; especially the true kind, and you'll give her the world. Jodie works to connect pain to pain and struggle to struggle so we'll all feel less alone inside our stories and more at home in our hearts, minds, and relationships. You can connect with her on her blog, Utter Imperfection, and on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.


  1. This is spot on! I have 2 teenage girls! They are almost 16 and 18! Lord help me…They are great girls but do not get us as parents! Your article was beautifully articulated and I am overjoyed to share it!


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