I am so glad my kids are my kids! I won the lottery. Let’s be clear on that. However… They are of a certain age. It’s an age that I, like many, often find myself struggling with and unprepared for. It’s like being a new mom, all over again.
By the time my girls were 10, I thought I’d found my mom groove. My kids were (and still are, for the record) what I would describe as “good” kids. Perfect? No. But they make me proud on a regular basis. I was pretty sure about the kind of parent-of-a-teen experience I would have.
I was wrong. Which is nothing new, incidentally.
Before I had kids I was also sure I’d exclusively breastfeed my bio children, that they’d all be potty trained by two and reading by six. I was certain that I’d never put up with a public tantrum, serve a drive-thru dinner or leave the house in yoga pants that I’d worn continuously for two days. Oh no! Not me!
Some things never change. I’m still clueless when it comes to predicting my parenting future. If you have a toddler in your house, and no teens, you probably are too. Read on, if you dare.
When my kids were in the tender middle ages of grade school, and American Girl Dolls and Disney Characters still held huge sway over them, it was easy to judge the teens and parents of teens that wafted through my life. I was shocked that my niece left the house wearing what appeared to be lingerie. I was appalled by the time my nephew and his friends spent on violent, bone chilling video games.
My kids, and their friends, would be different, I swore. Innocent yet wise and infinitely more prudent with their personal Facebook feeds. All the lessons they’d learned from Little Bear, Mulan and Sesame Street would stick.
Now I’m in the hot seat and incredibly aware of it. I still have toddlers in the house, and parents of toddlers and school aged kids in my life. I can feel them looking on, heads shaking, when my oldest posts a photo of herself in a bikini or loudly announces something “sucks” in front of her four year old sibling. I can sense their thoughts; “Can you believe what her daughter just posted?! Do you hear how she speaks? My daughter will never say/do anything like that.”
Yeah. Maybe. I’ll check back in with them when their daughters are no longer 7.
You know when you are pregnant for the first time, and someone comes up to you and starts telling you about how to treat the inevitable hemorrhoids and what to do when your boobs start leaking like crazy and gives you the real scoop about sex after pregnancy? Part of you doesn’t want to know. But not knowing means you could be thrown for a loop later. You listen, hoping none of what you’re hearing ever becomes useful.
I wish someone had done the equivalent for me about parenting teens.
Perhaps this is why I find myself in the position of annoying informer when it comes to parenting teens. Torn between letting my pals with younger kids live in their blissful state of denial (I enjoyed it while it lasted) or risking their judgment, shocked looks, and friendship abandonment by sharing a little reality with them. I’ve learned it’s kind of like talking to kids about sex or death. You have to let them lead the discussion. Not give them more than they can handle at any one time.
Maybe you don’t want to know what it’s really like out there. I don’t blame you one bit. Back to your regularly scheduled programming. Tell Elmo I say hi.
If however, you are a planner and not too easily shocked, I’m willing to share some of my experiences from the parenting teens front. Buckle up.
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Note: Mileage may vary – my experiences might not be the same as yours. But I feel I’ve shared with enough other parents of teens to know that my experiences are not unusual. I’d also like to reiterate that I have awesome teen/tween daughters. I love them to pieces even when they steal my stuff and I want to lock them in a tower.
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MORE ON BABBLE:
25 things every kid should experience
8 things I never thought I’d say… until I became a mom
20 ways the Internet has changed parenting forever
25 horrifying photos of stuff kids have ruined
20 simple ways to show your kids you love them