Parenting a teen is not easy, nor is it for the faint of heart. I know these aren't groundbreaking observations; you can call me Captain Obvious.
Adolescence is tough in part because it makes one really emotional, and by "one," I mean their parent. But it seems I'm not the only parent who experiences wildly different emotions in the course of a day parenting.
Here are the seven emotions parents of teens experience daily.
My teenager makes me either scratch my head, wonder "What was she thinking?" or ask "Why?" with the knowledge that there is no good answer. Every. Single. Day.
Combine that with efforts to comprehend confusing new procedures at school, attempts to decipher the parental obligations for a graduated driver license on the less-than-clear Secretary of State's website, and trying to keep up with the latest social media slang and acronyms, and it's safe to say I'm confused often.
Without a doubt, there are days when this emotion is easier to feel than others, but on the whole, teens can be really, really funny.`
Something my daughter says or does or a story about what happened at school that day can tickle my funny bone. Other times, just an absurdity that comes with raising someone whose brain is not yet formed can make me laugh. And I confess that sometimes there's no choice but to laugh at myself.
There's almost always something amusing, which is great, because maintaining your sense of humor is key to staying sane when parenting a teen.
I'd be lying if it I didn't say that I feel a bit of fear or trepidation pretty regularly. I tend to be a bit anxious, but I'm also pretty certain that I'm not alone in feeling some fear when it comes to raising a teenager.
Sometimes, that fear is internal. What if my best efforts at being a good parent somehow fall short?
And then external factors can stoke fear. Whether it's news of a student in a neighboring high school committing suicide, hearing about the opioid addiction issues impacting teens or seeing the latest stats about kids who text and drive while your child is also on the road, some things that can make a pit appear in a parent's stomach instantly.
I work really hard to not let fear rule my life or my parenting decisions, but it's there. For me, the first step in addressing my fear is acknowledging it. Then I can manage it.
Not all parental fears are rational. Even if they are, we know that we can't keep teens safe all the time. A lot of parents regularly put on a brave face and ignore their fear when sending their kids off into the big wide world.
One of the reasons that I think parenting a teen is so hard is because we've been there. Of course, not in exactly the same place. (Believe me, I thank my lucky stars regularly that there was no social media when I was a teen.) But there are some aspects of growing up that are consistent from generation to generation.
So many of the scenarios in which our teens find themselves are similar to ones we lived through. While they find it hard to believe, we sometimes really do have an inkling of how they're feeling. We really can empathize because we've been in their shoes.
There's a strong desire to step in and say "Don't do what I did! Learn from my mistakes! Here's what really works here!"
Our teens may make us crazy, but they also make us proud. Whether it's winning an award, being kind to a classmate or picking themselves up and showing up when you know things have been tough, these kids can make our hearts swell. Just knowing the person they are becoming can make a parent proud day in and day out.
I may not always like my teen's choices, but I will always love her, no matter what.
The teen years are certainly trying for parents, but I'm often reminded of those who have tragically lost children before they reached their teens. I know how very fortunate I am to have a healthy, happy teen. I'm ridiculously grateful that I get to be her mom.
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