Parenting Teenagers? Who Will Make It Through
By Renee Brown
My teens are now teetering on the brink of young adulthood, and I am surprised that they still need me. I hear from friends that being “mom” never really ends. Some people might find this distressing but I say, “Thank goodness.” It just seems to get better and better as I transition from parental figure into trusted advisor and friend to my grown children.
I think back to the bleary days of diaper changes and bottles. In the midst of it, no one would have been able to convince me there would be an end to the chaos. It felt like that stage was forever and a day, that I’d always be paying a fortune for daycare and wiping noses. But all of a sudden, I realized that we had turned a proverbial corner and the boys had moved on to new skills and challenges. And that’s the way it goes with parenting.
When my kids were teenagers, I felt like I was on one big giant roller coaster ride. When they were infants, I controlled pretty much everything. I would put them to bed at night, and they would stay there until the morning. I would put away the toys at night, and the living room still looked great when I woke up. I loaded up the fridge and all the food would be accounted for the next day.
All of that went out the window when they became teenagers. Their problems got bigger, hairier and more frightening. I was no longer as physically tired (well, unless they stayed out past curfew), but I became mentally exhausted. My teens challenged me – sometimes maddeningly so – getting on my case over every little thing. Or relentlessly arguing over screen time, cell phone privileges and chores. I started to miss my sweet, people-pleasing elementary kid who always asked if he could help me.
And then, just like before, I realized one day that the pattern had shifted. My surly teenagers had become more pleasant. They now want to respectfully debate world issues with me instead of trying to prove I am completely below them on the intelligence scale. These are the moments when I see them as a human, a potential adult and I realize I somehow scraped by and survived the rough waters of adolescence.
I hardly understand how in the world I made it, how I am still drawing breath, but that’s not important. What mattered when I was in the thick of parenting teenagers was waking up every day, showing up for my kids and looking forward with the best attitude possion
Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.