My son recently tried to tell me he was hanging out with friends at the nearby frozen yogurt store until midnight. The problem was that I knew the store closes at 11 p.m. Oh, the joys of raising teenagers!
When I called him out on the closing time, he got all squirmy with me, and then broke into a grin, realizing I had caught him.
We all know that parenting is different today than when we were in our teen years. Yet, there are some things that stay true for generations. As a teenager, I am sure I tried similar twists of the truth on my mother.
But when I gave birth, my mother look at my cute baby and said, “How adorable!” She forgot to warn me that the cute baby would become a sneaky teenager and I would need to know much more than how to change a diaper.
Yes, my mother forgot to warn me that teenagers tell white lies like it’s no big deal because they don’t want us parents to know everything going on in their lives and because they want to see what they can get away with by bending the rules.
The more I think about it, the more I realize there are all kinds of things my mother forgot to tell me to prepare me for the teen years.
Here are four more things she forgot to tell me that would have had me on guard….
You are no longer perfect
When they are little, your children worship you. They will hug you out of nowhere, or cry when you leave on a business trips. When they become teenagers, you become real people instead of the heros they worship. They suddenly see your flaws — your pants are up too high, you laugh strangely, your humming along to the radio is annoying. I remember as a teenager noticing my mother made her eyebrows too big with her eye pencil and telling her I was horrified.
My mother could have warned me that my turn for being scrutinized would come, too.
You will go through a period when nothing sits right
You might make a small comment to your teen such as, “Did you brush your hair this morning?” and it will lead to eye rolling or full on drama over why you care since it’s their hair. This period of hypersensitivity requires parental stamina. It could easily result in the cold shoulder from your teen or an awful argument.
If your teenager starts to withdraw and you start to pry, that won’t sit right either. All you can do is recognize this as a phase, shrug it off, and let them know repeatedly that you love them.
When raising teenagers their friends opinions count more
If you love a shirt that your daughter is wearing but her friend picks out a different one, guess which shirt she is going to wear?
When my son Jake was 13, I advised him not to send a “mean girl” a Valentine’s heart lollipop, but his friend told him he should. He took his friend’s advice. The girl never acknowledged to Jake that she got the lollipop — or bothered to give him the time of day the rest of the school year.
As parents of teenagers, we quickly learn it doesn’t matter that mom knows best because from a teen’s perspective she doesn’t. Instead, they are convinced their friends know best. It’s just the way it is, so we can’t take it personally. The day I realized this I was devastated. But now I recognize it for what it is.
When you have teenagers, the hardest but most important thing you will do, is let go and not be hurt when they want to go to the movies with their friends instead of you. Just you have to let them. If they want to get in a car with another teen at the wheel, you have to let them. At this stage, their friends are their priority.
Which brings me to the next thing my mom forget to tell me…
Teenagers are convinced their parents don’t get it.
Often during the teen years we are told “you don’t get it” or “it’s not like that today.” Technology has given teenagers even more ammunition for thinking, or believing, parents don’t know anything.
Yes, your teens really believe you are stupid. They will correct your pronunciation. They will let you know when you repeat something. And, heaven forbid you should call something by the wrong name (I recently said Mapquest instead of GPS…boy did my teens make me feel like a fool!)
Oh, and just try to impart some rudimentary sex education advice. They will laugh hysterically.
I remember when Raquel blogged about how her daughter thought she knew more about driving than her mom just minutes after getting her permit.
As a teenager, I was certainly convinced of my intellectual superiority over my parents. Now it’s my turn to be the idiot.
However, even recognizing these drawbacks, I love teenagers. They can be great companions when they want to be. They will introduce you to new music you might not have considered. They will keep you up on pop culture. And of course, there’s something else… “You can’t disappoint a teenager because they already expect the worst of you,” as noted by Emma Beddington in her article, Why your teenager thinks you’re an idiot.
I recently asked my mother why she didn’t caution me about what to expect from the teen years. She smiled and said, “Oh Cindy, we all go through it. It’s part of being a parent.”
Obviously, she takes some comfort in seeing things come full circle. Maybe I will, too, someday.
Your thoughts on raising teenagers
So, I’m curious…What are some aspects of raising teenagers that your parents forgot to warn you about? Share below so the rest of us can relate.