There are entire sections of book stores and libraries dedicated to the raising of babies, toddlers and how to deal with tantrums and no sleep. There are groups both online and in real life you can join to help you raise your baby.
But what happens when they are teens? Where are all those books? Where are all those support groups? My guess is the moms of teens are hiding somewhere with a slab of chocolate (or 4) questioning how they are qualified to raise a teenager.
The challenge is, I suppose, you can no longer put your teen child’s problems out their for the world to offer advice on. It is just not the done thing – you know respect and all that.
So as parents of teens we are left to fend for ourselves out in the dark, desolate wasteland of life with teens.
Ok, seriously, though it is not that bad. Well, let me rephrases, it hasn’t been that bad for us. I do still feel ill equipped most days to deal with some of the things I need to deal with. For example, I still don’t reall know what I want to do with my life, so how can I expect them to?
(But that is a topic for another post)
If your kids are approaching their teen years, let me share some secrets with you.
- The best place to talk to them is in the car, on the way home from school or to their extra-murual activities. Every evening Kiara comes with me to fetch Cameron. I learn more about what is going on their lives during that 20 minute car ride. They can’t go anywhere so if you have to talk about something serious, it is the perfect time.
- They do sleep a lot. If they aren’t sleeping then they are in their room behind closed doors. Don’t take it personally. Enjoy the silence but remember to remind them to take all dirty dishes/mugs etc to the kitchen and you may need to remind them to shower over the weekends.
- Be prepared to argue a lot. It is not aggressive, angry arguing but more the “I am a teenager, you are an adult therefore you know NOTHING mother” kind of arguing. Upon turning 13 they receive a lifetime’s worth of wisdom.
- When you are home, they will temporarily lose use of their hands and are not able to even use the toaster. When you are not there, they can make the most incredible gourmet meals that Gordon Ramsay has ever seen.
- Making bad decisions is part of this season. They will do dumb stuff and you will wonder WHY or HOW they managed to make such a dumb decision. It is how they are learning, also they do lose a part of their brain from 13 right up until they turn 20. Try not to express your dismay at their dumbness, rather offer advice and then tell your friends (not on Facebook) about the dumb thing they did.
- They say they no longer need you but they do. When they come to you for advice or with a problem. Don’t act like a know-it-all or say I told you so, just listen.
- You will need to start reminding them that daily baths are not optional and teeth need to be brushed. There is a brief window from about 9 – 11 when they willingly care about their personal hygiene and then they forget again.
- Don’t assume that when they are not with they are behaving like cherubs. They probably aren’t breaking any laws but even the sweetest, most well behaved teen will push a boundary or two. Expect it, prepare for it, embrace it.
- You will never have enough food in the house. NEVER. It is pointless to even try. Don’t assume your gluten-free, sugar-free, devoid of joy snacks will be safe from their grips. They will not. Use this time as a diet of sorts.
- Trying to learn or understand their “lingo” will only make you look like a fool! So make sure you know the trigger words but just let them talk to each other in their own way.
- Never mind a varsity savings account, start a “valentines day-winter-spring-halloween” dance savings fund. There is always a dance that needs a suit or a dress or a corsage or something you never budgeted for (because there are NO books on raising teens).
- Remember they are still kids. They may look like they are all grown up, the definitely want to be all grown up but they aren’t, they are still just kids trying to figure it all out.
- Trust them. Yip I said it. Trust them to know when they have messed up. Trust them to ask for help when they need. Trust them to do it on their own when they feel they can.
Raising teenagers has been the scariest part of parenting for me but also the most fun. I enjoy the two teens so much. I like hanging out with them. I enjoy talking to them. We have frustrating days and days I worry a lot but that’s parenting, right?
My parting piece of wisdom is to hide your car keys the year they turn 15. This does just apply to boys, if you have a girl, hide the keys. Trust me on this. I have hard evidence that this is the smart thing to do. Evidence gathered from a few different sources, not just my kids.