Remember the days when our kids were toddlers, pre-schoolers and in elementary school and we thought those days were long and hard? Looking back… boy, what I wouldn’t give to go back (just for a quick visit) to the simple life when spilled milk, Target temper tantrums, and trips to the doctor’s office filled my more challenging days. Now that I have a few years of experience raising teenagers under my belt I’ve come to the realization that the days I thought were tough when my kids were young were actually a walk in the park on a warm sunny day in comparison.
Although, despite the mountain of tough decisions I’ve had to make, all the hormonal fluctuations (with more heavy sighs and eye-rolls that I care to mention), and a handful of “battle of the wills” with my kids, I’ve learned a thing or two. Yes… the days are exhausting, maddening and frustrating, but they’re also crazy fun, exhilarating, and totally rewarding. With a healthy dose of humor, a little (okay, maybe a lot) of patience and a few “self-pats” on the back on those days when self-doubt creeps in, I’m making it out alive…
Still, it sure would have been nice if someone had taken the time to give me the low-down about raising teenagers. Maybe a few pointers or a heads up… heck, anything to help prepare me for the winding, unpredictable curves ahead.
Here’s hoping this insight brings a tad more clarity to the days ahead with your kids. Here are 36 things no one warned me about raising teenagers:
- That between the ages of 13 and 19 they would look at their phone or a screen far more than they looked at me.
- That keeping my child safe as a toddler was far easier than keeping my child safe as a teenager.
- That even though they know how to do something (something you taught them when they were four), they would still ask for help.
- That secretly I’d want to take revenge on the kid that made my child cry… even if it meant going to jail for a couple of years.
- How incredibly sweet they would be when they need money… or anything else for that matter.
- That they would do such a good job of pretending not to need me… until they do.
- That there would be days I would be so exasperated by my kid’s behavior that I’d come within inches of packing my bags and moving to Mexico… forever.
- That there would be songs from my generation that they knew the words to better than me.
- That no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shield my kids from the relentless pressure they faced in school, with their friends and society.
- How incredibly talented and creative they would be at coming up with reasons why they missed their curfew.
- That no matter how much food I bought, it would never, ever be enough.
- That teaching them how to drive would take five years off my life and another five years when they drove off by themselves.
- That even though their bedroom was a total disaster, it would bother me far more to see their room empty when they left for college.
- That when they were sick they’d need me just as much as they did when they were toddlers.
- That I would lose as much sleep as I do waiting up for them in sheer panic because they’re 10 minutes late.
- That there would be days when I would feel as though I lost them forever and that they don’t need me anymore.
- That when I saw them all dressed up for Homecoming or Prom that I’d fast forward and envision them on their wedding day.. and then brush a few tears away before they noticed.
- That I would miss frogs, finger painting, and fairy tales as much as I do.
- That the space and privacy they crave as teenagers doesn’t mean they don’t need or love me.
- That the idea of them growing up and heading out into the world on their own scares them as much as it scares me.
- That I could buy a luxury car for the amount of money I spent on their teeth…only to have them lose their retainer five times.
- That I’d long for simple decisions like what birthday present to buy for their friend or what bow to put in my daughter’s hair.
- That every time they struggled in a class in middle or high school it would always be the teacher’s fault.
- That there would be days that I would deny knowing my child when asked by a total stranger, “Do you know that child?” Me: “Umm…nope, never seen that kid before in my life.”
- That teenage girls could be SO incredibly loud.
- That I’d long for little giggles and the days when Polly Pockets and Hot Wheels scattered the kitchen floor.
- That Smartphones would replace the toy phones they had when they were little, but they’d still find a way to break them.
- That they would become my biggest critic and my biggest supporter.
- That when they’d leave for college I’d feel as though I just lost my best friend.
- That there would be days (ok, maybe months or years) when their hormones would control their behavior.
- That they could win an academy award for their performance in front of other parents.
- That I could possibly love them more than I did when they were babies.
- That I would turn every darn newscast into a “teaching moment” and drive my kid’s absolutely nuts in the process.
- That peer pressure would play such a powerful role in their lives.
- That my influence as a mom would not only impact my kid’s lives but their friends’ lives as well.
- That the precious days I shared with my kids would fly by all too quickly.