Do you have certain moments in your life you will never forget? One of those moments was when the nurse brought my son to me after I gave birth to him. That was almost 16 years ago now, when parenting teens was a distant thought.
I remember thinking during those early parenting years how physically, mentally and emotionally draining the days were. I looked at people who had teens and thought how much easier they had it. Or so I thought, since their kids were older and more self sufficient.
Those parents are probably sitting somewhere together secretly laughing at me. I owe them an apology because I was completely wrong about parenting teens and I want to share some things you need to know.
What are the most common teenage problems?
There is so much growth and change that takes place in kids, especially within the ages of 13-19. Between physical and emotional changes, hormones, peer pressures, and social media it can all be overwhelming.
Teens can be faced with concerns over their bodies, school, cyberbullying, dating or even drinking, vaping and smoking.
The best thing you can do during the teenage years is to always keep the lines of communication open and instill as much confidence in them as you can. What they are thinking and how they feel is so important now more than ever before, especially due to the current state of the world.
Most people are stuck inside, which can be difficult for kids to adjust to. Just like the conversation I recently had online with my teen, remember that your teens’ feelings are completely valid.
Parenting teens and what you need to know:
You know those Mommy/Daddy & Me classes and baby/toddler parenting groups? What I can’t figure out is why there aren’t those same type of support groups for when you have teens.
Support during this time of parenthood is very important so you don’t feel alone.
- Try not to take it personally when your teen is nice, full of smiles and conversation for everyone besides their parents (unless they want something or a ride somewhere). I am still working on handling this one.
- Do you like roller coaster rides? Well, once you have a teen you will feel like you are constantly on one. Teens seem to either want absolutely nothing to do with you, or they will want your approval, affection and advice immediately.
- Teens know everything and you can’t ever win (but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying). This is a tough one for me. Some days my son loves nothing more than for me to be on the sidelines cheering him on, while other times I get side-eye if I even attempt to open my mouth.
- Dating. (Here’s a whole other talk about that preparing for that stage.)
- Teens have the immediate ability to forget the basics they were taught (clean up, don’t lie, act responsibly, be nice to your sibling). But, they won’t forget to ask you for money, a ride, new sneakers and more. Remember the cleanup song from when the kids were younger? Based upon the current status of my teenage son’s bedroom it appears he needs a few refresher courses on that song.
- Back to those basics they supposedly learned. Prepare yourself now for your teen to lie about the dumbest things (that can’t only be my kid) and to make some not very smart choices. Try and repeat after me, “teens have to make mistakes to grow and learn so they can hopefully be a successful adult“. That has become my mantra.
- Social media and smartphones aren’t always their friend. Unfortunately for our teens, they live in an age where much of their communication is done via smartphones and social media. Sometimes they don’t think before they screenshot, text, and email things. Get ready to sound like a broken record as you constantly tell your teen to be conscious of what they put out there because it can’t be taken back. (We do regular digital cleanses in our home.)
- Last, but certainly not least, teens take the longest showers, which my water bill can confirm. I wish I could remember when it shifted from my son complaining about having to take a shower to now taking multiple showers a day. (I actually had to teach my teen to shower faster.)
What I forgot to tell you about parenting teens:
Despite the ups, downs, growing pains and frustrations of this stage of parenting, it can also be pretty amazing.
Watching your child grow up into a teen and start to become their own person is a magical thing.
Speaking of magical, last year I traveled to Amsterdam with my son so we could spend quality time together while exploring a new place. It was one of those certain moments in life I will never forget and neither will he.
What advice can you give to help make parenting teens a little more of an easier adventure?