When my kids were elementary school age, a friend with older kids told me to enjoy it now. She told me the teen years would come fast, hard, and break my heart. She spoke of slamming doors, “I hate you” bellowing from hallways, sneaking out at night, stolen cash from the purse, and how all of this would end with me alone and broken hearted.
I watched my kids grow and enter this mysterious realm of adolescence and I waited. The door slamming and heartbreak simply didn’t come. I waited and anticipated this transformation, like there were ticking time bombs at the dinner table. As a mom whose kids are now 16 and 18, I can confidently and happily report that no one has uttered that they hate me (even if they thought it a time or two), no one has run away or stolen money, and I am not broken hearted in the least. So, take it from the mom whose heard every horror story in the books, you don’t have to fear the teen years.
Even if there is a difficult transition from child to young adult, there are so many positives about having teens if you really stop to think about it. For one, you get to finally see glimpses of who these kids will be, how they view the world, and what they want out of life. You can ask them their opinion about world events, politics, religion, anything, and engage in real discussions. You can see plainly where the values or morals you taught them intersect with outside influences to create a truly unique person with an opinion or viewpoint of his or her own.
You get to have fun with these new people in new ways. No more waiting on a bench while they line up for kiddie rides or sitting idly in a theater watching animated movies. You can all ride the roller coasters and watch cheese ball comedies together. They will get the jokes now. They will listen to your music and share theirs with you. You also get to ditch the kid menus and feel comfortable going out to nice restaurants without fear of spilled chocolate milk and meltdowns.
Another change that teens bring to the house is their energy. Sure, chasing toddlers requires non-stop energy, but teens actually bring it to you, to the household. They burst with it and so do their friends. Having a room full of teens raid the fridge and talk a mile a minute will give you a spark and dare you to keep up.
Lastly, having teens gives you inspiration. Their new-found independence gives you independence and time to explore new things, career opportunities, and personal goals. You get built in cheerleaders when you take up something new. I took up running at 40 when my kids were 14 and 16. Now, instead of me cheering from the stands at a little league game, I have these two young adults cheering me on as I run past a finish line.
No, it’s not all roses. There are growing pains for all. It gets messy. And, quite frankly, as with any stage of parenthood, it’s hard and you’re never quite sure you are getting it right. But, if you put that fear of the teen years aside and focus on the benefits and seeing the good in these people you are putting out into the world, it truly can be the most enjoyable chapter of the journey.
Karri L. Moser is a freelance writer who has worked as both a newspaper and radio news reporter. She has freelanced for magazines, marketing firms, web sites, and various online publications. Karri is also a fiction writer who has completed one novel and hopes to dive into fiction full-time one day.
Karri lives in Maine with her husband, two teens, two dogs, a cat, and flock of hens. When Karri isn’t writing, she loves to paint, garden, explore the coast and lighthouses, and run.