When my girls were young I remember hearing a lot of advice and comments about what it would be like to raise them. These comments came from friends, family, strangers. One of the things that most disturbed me though were the comments about them becoming teenagers, especially girl teenagers.
“They’re fun now, but just wait ‘til they’re teenagers.”
“I’m so glad I have boys, teenage girls are so moody.”
“I survived the teenage years, you will, too.”
Wait a minute, survived?!?
I didn’t want to survive any part of my mommy years. I wanted to cherish them. I began to look at the future with dread. I wanted someone to encourage me about the beauty and wonder of teenagers. There is beauty and wonder…isn’t there?
Today I am the mother of two teenagers (and a toddler) and I would like to share a few things that nobody ever told me.
1. THEY APPEAR IN AN INSTANT:
“They are going to grow up before you know it. It goes so fast.”- This is an understatement. Let me tell you how it happened. I went to bed one night with a 7 and 10 year old and woke up the next morning with a 15 and 18 year old. It went that fast.
2. THEY CAN BE MORE MATURE THAN WE THINK:
I fretted about the mood swings. Their hormones and all of the other changes that come with the adolescent years can bring on great shifts in emotions. Thankfully, it has not been too bad. My oldest daughter, Grace has a generally easy-going, pleasant personality and my younger teenager, Lillian has an encouraging, content personality. They don’t often get caught up in moments of explosive emotion, but instead think and talk through situations. And when emotions do take control, I’ve learned to sit quietly and love them through it. They amaze me.
3. THEY ARE TALLER THAN I AM!:
When I finally got used to the idea that I was an adult, a parent in charge of raising these precious little people, it was quite nice having little girls running around the house playing dolls and dress-up and Legos and hide and seek. They were cute and had squeaky little voices and loved snuggle time. But just when I got used to it, I woke up to teenagers. My children are taller than I am and their sneakers cost $150 and I can’t remember the last time that I was the one to braid their hair. It’s weird.
4. THEY ARE REALLY LIKEABLE:
From the time my girls were born it was intriguing to see their personalities emerge, little by little. Now when I sit back and listen to them talk and interact with others and just look at them, I am delighted in the young ladies they have become. Yes, they still carry some of their parents in them, but they are independent near-adults. I like them.
5. THEY ARE COMPANIONS:
I have never subscribed to the “Be their friend” kind of parenting. My children always have and still know and respect us as their parents first. But having two young adults in the house really is like having a couple of friends living here. We share many experiences, some of the same likes and dislikes and the same values. I enjoy spending time with them.
6. THEY ARE PASSIONATE:
It won’t be long before my big girls will leave home. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t worrisome to me. I hope and pray that we have taught them what they need to know and that they have the skills to learn what they don’t know. There are so many opportunities waiting for them and I hope they look for them. And work for them. They are looking at the world with opportunity and excitement, ready to explore their passions. It’s good to be around their perspectives. I know they will find their places in the world. I’m excited.
I think it’s too easy as parents to fall into the trap of accepting that our children will turn into eye-rolling, self-centered monsters when they hit adolescence. If we surrender to this and expect it from our children, they are likely to deliver. Let’s face it, the teenage years are tough. Their hormones are a mess, their bodies are changing, schoolwork gets harder and they are supposed to start making critical decisions about their lives. It’s almost too much to handle. But they can handle it, with our support.
Let me be the voice of encouragement.
Parenting teens can be challenging, but when you look at the wonderful, positive things your young adults bring to your life, it becomes easier. Love them, support them and their passions, expect more from them, and be their biggest cheerleaders. They will surprise you!