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 checkout already and let you go about your merry, teenage way. But I know better.

One of my parents did checkout, 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 first hand 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 and 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.

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 sometimes senselessly hurtful world so that your brain can rest and your anxiety can lessen and we can see the whites of your eyes again; so much love and parenting in that.

Telling you no, even if we don’t need to, for the sake of not giving you every thing you ever desire for the often so 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 gargantuanly good at gratitude and at recognizing those that 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.

Actionable 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, adults that actually do right and not wrong, who own up to it if you falter, you know it; that’s love. That’s parenting.

Taking the easier road; turning the other cheek, ignoring you, failing to attempt to guide you and shape you, succumbing to the heart-wrenching worry 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 us 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.


My name is Jodie, and my mission, what drives me and makes my heart soar, is to help lead people out of loneliness and back in to love. And if I can make people laugh while doing that, well then, that’s the ultimate trifecta for me. I read some words that helped me heal. That mechanism astounds me and I want to be part of it. I want to turn around and help the next one in line via the telling and the sharing, the writing and the reading, the connection and the healing. My hope is that something I write will find its way to you and help you too. Find me on my website, Utter Imperfection and on Facebook and Instagram.


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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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