Over the years and perhaps even throughout time, parents have lamented about the unbridled joy of raising a teenager. Sometimes I envision a young, prehistoric teen stomping out of the family cave, furious over her parent’s refusal to let her go to the meat festival wearing furs that short, including the eye rolling.
In my case, raising my child as a widowed, single parent comes with unique challenges. For me, there is no “other parent” or partner to bounce ideas off of or strategize with. Friends can help with what has and hasn’t worked for them and you can research some things. However, each teen is *unique* to say the least and things can change from day to day, or even minute to minute.
Repetition. State the list of what needs to be done. Wait a specific amount of time for it not to be completed and then repeat. Before repeating, prepare for verbal battle. Sometimes, this might require the use of earplugs or music in order to drown out screaming and slamming doors. While you will find quite a few people out there who are *experts* on raising teens and how their little snowflake would never talk back to their parents and how you are doing everything wrong, trust me, they are lying through their teeth or buying them something every time they whine or open their mouths to complain about *something. (*something, n. When referring to teens, something could be, it’s too hot, it’s too cold, I have nothing to wear, you’re mean, why can’t you just drive me, I shouldn’t have to do chores…erm, you get the idea).
Say goodbye to once cherished moments, evenings and time spent just sitting around playing a board game, talking about life, going for a walk (especially being seen in public as you are now a pariah) and any activities that don’t come directly before you doing something FOR them that they benefit from. Once their need/desire/purchase is tended to, you will once again become Satan, and someone to be avoided. These moments might briefly reappear when packages arrive or you are suggesting buying/taking them to/participating in an activity that they can benefit from.
You will no longer be an expert at ANYTHING. Their friends (and sometimes even their friend’s parents, especially if they are more lenient than you) will become the knowers of all things. You will no longer have ANY clue about fashion, music, food, movies, boys, TV shows, or anything. I was recently told that my four bedroom, three bathroom house is WAY too small and that she will have something much bigger that she can be comfortable in when she gets older. (Mom, I know you’re no longer here, but if they have internet there and you’re reading this…stop laughing. Yes, I know you told me this would happen and I laughed then. No, I’m not laughing now.)
Whether you are taking them out for ice cream or taking them on a dream vacation to another country, it will NEVER be enough. Once an activity is over, it will no longer count as something nice you did. It is in the past and new activities and luxurious things need to replace them, or you are once again mean, hateful and the worst parent on the planet. ALL their other friends get to go to [insert incredibly fancy and expensive thing/place/location] all the time and they get to do NOTHING. EVER. Oh, and you’re mean and selfish. The meanest AND most selfish mother to EVER have lived. Their life is essentially ruined.
Since I love to craft, I’m considering making a crafty version of this saying, maybe with one of those paint night style fonts and a modern, whitewashed frame. I will hang it in a well used location and just point to it from now on. Anything else you say won’t matter, so this phrase is good for most things. Other, more creative things you might try to use to make a difference will just go in one ear and out the other. Trying to sit down with them and have a heart to heart can sometimes, rarely have a temporary effect, but you need to gauge their current mood/activity in order to approach them like you would a sleeping lion.
So, all joking aside, and for those who didn’t see through that, *most of that (*most does not mean all when it comes to teens) is an amusing take on the raising of teens. This is my third time doing it and I can say with all certainty that it doesn’t really get easier. More predictive perhaps, but not easier. It’s been a little over ten years since my first teen grew out of things and is now a beautiful, talented and kind young woman. So, I know that over time, things move forward and attitudes shift. I consider my oldest daughter not just my child, but now a friend and have a wonderful relationship with her. Hope is a beautiful thing lol. Strength can evolve out of turmoil, but you have to stumble, fight and claw your way sometimes to get there. I know because I’ve been there, many times.
I know that my daughters are fierce. How? Because they are a part of me. While my youngest has had to face quite a bit of turmoil far too young in her life, every day she is moving towards a better vision of the future. To lose her father at six years old was something that I cannot even fully comprehend from her perspective. I know what it was like losing both my parents all around the same time, but it’s different. I’ve lost my dad, but I also had him for a LOT longer.
Every day there seems to be a new challenge to face with parenting a teen. Sometimes, you just have to walk away and take some time to think about a better perspective. One thing I’ve started to do is try to spend more time with her. When stress is high, it’s really easy to walk away and not deal with them at all, but after time, you realize that is not going to do anything but drive a wedge between you. Interacting and trying to reach them and provide good guidance and skills is the only way that you are going to get anywhere (if you get anywhere at all, but you can’t give up).
I vividly recall the wild, uncontrollable teenager I was. Like a loose cannon, I was completely unable to be controlled and fought everyone at every opportunity. Determined to do what I wanted, when I wanted, I lashed out at anyone who tried to comfort me. While there are reasons for that, that former teenager remembers how powerful the urge for independence was and I try hard to remember that young girl when I hear my own daughter rebel in her newfound internal struggle.
Maybe someday I’ll hang this on her wall and point to it…maybe I’ll do that today.