Each stage of parenting has its own challenges. There’s the sheer exhaustion of meeting the needs of your newborn, the patience required to discipline a toddler, and the perseverance needed to complete elementary school homework.
Unfortunately, we moms aren’t super kind in that we often belittle the current reality of each other’s circumstances and give menacing forecasts for the future. “You think two-year-old tantrums are bad, just wait until they have a meltdown at school,” etc., etc.
Yet, no stage of children’s lives seems to spark more dread and precipitate more ominous conjectures than the teenage years.
But I’m here to tell you that parenting in the teenage years is not all bad. In fact, I am living through this stage with 14- and 17-year-old girls and I love it. It’s certainly not any easier than other stages of parenting, but it’s nothing to fear. Yes, there will be epic collisions of teen hormones and peri-menopause (if you had kids into your 30s like I did), but there will also be fabulous moments when you are incredibly impressed by the burgeoning adults you’ve raised.
Here are some reasons that you should look forward to having teenagers:
1. You can leave the house whenever you want.
I just announce I’m going to the grocery store walk out the front door now. My girls are usually busy with their own commitments. Occasionally, one of my quality-time seeking kids will want to come along (mainly so they can influence my snack buying) but I don’t have to load everyone into the car. Likewise, I can go to the gym or meet up with friends without making a huge plan ahead of time.
2. They can drive.
Many parents are terrified by the lack of control this idea presents in their lives. However, the only terrifying thing about kids driving is the insurance bill. Trust me, after years of transporting kids to all of their activities and social events, you will appreciate the break. Plus, they can run errands for you.
3. They keep track of their own schedule.
I no longer schedule playdates or worry about rehearsal times. Their job is to communicate to me where they are going and when, but I’m not responsible for their day-to-day entertainment like I used to be.
4. You can have deep conversations.
I love to talk current events with my girls. Or help them navigate challenging relationships, or problem-solve how they will raise their math grade. This is the time of life that kids form their opinions on the world and it’s an honor to be part of that.
5. They can help out at home.
It’s important for kids to do chores and help out around the house from the time they are little and those responsibilities should increase as they get older. After all, you are training for adulthood and you want your kids to be able to fend for themselves. I don’t remember exactly when I stopped doing my kids’ laundry but it’s been a couple years. The girls can cook dinner if I’m not going to be home in time or stop and bring something home. They pick up after themselves (usually after a few reminders) and clean before company comes over.
We had some tough tween and middle school years at our house. We still have bad days, so I don’t want to paint an unrealistic picture for anyone. But I also don’t want anyone to be scared of the teenage years, either. As in any stage, embrace the good times and forget the bad ones. After all, that what our parents did for us.