They say raising a teen is one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do. Who are "they"? Researchers, psychologists, and, you know, your own parents who have been in your shoes. It really is one of the most challenging stages of parenting, leaving you to constantly wonder and worry if you’re doing the right thing.
While I can’t exactly tell you if you are, I can offer you comfort in knowing that you’re not alone. I have a 12-year-old daughter (ah, the tween years) and a 14-year-old son, and I often reminisce back to their toddler years when they were joyful, carefree, and happy all (well, most of!) the time. It’s not like I don’t love them just as much now, but there can definitely be trying times.
Here are some of those times. If you can relate, then I send you my sympathies and support. We’re in this together!
1. You wonder where all that food is that you just bought.
Yesterday was a grocery store day. Wasn’t it? You thought so, but you can’t understand where all the food went. Didn’t you buy, like, three packages of grapes?
2. The smells are weird, nice, and a combo of both.
Body odor is definitely a concern, and you find yourself asking them as politely as possible, “Did you remember your deodorant today?” But there are all sorts of body sprays, perfumes, room sprays, and more throw into the mix, too. It can definitely be an odd combo at times.
3. “I don’t care,” is uttered 20 to 30 times a day.
Where do you want to go? What do you want to eat? What should we watch? Spoiler alert: The answer is going to be “I don’t care” or “I don’t know.” Yet, we still ask. We still want to know, hoping every once in a while that we get an actual answer in return.
4. You haven’t felt this needy in years.
Times have changed, and they just don’t want to hang out with you in the same way anymore. You might sometimes feel more like an ATM than a parent, and to be honest, it kind of bums you out a bit. In fact, it makes you feel needy. Hang in there, parents, and don’t give up. They need you more than ever, but they just don’t show it in the same ways.
5. You know all the best angles for selfies.
This is because you’ve watched them take them. They think they’re being sneaky when we’re not paying attention, but we see.
6. Multiple TVs are usually blaring.
Why would you watch TV together when you can watch the same show separately? I’ve seen my two kids watch the same show on two totally different TVs in the house. (But they were on different episodes, or some lame excuse like that.)
7. Homework is no longer your strength.
You used to be able to help them with it, but the new methods and approaches have you feeling pretty puzzled. Maybe Hey Google or Alexa could help instead.
8. You find scary things in their room that were once edible… you think.
Even though you’ve told them time and time again you don’t want them eating in their room, you still seem to find empty wrappers and even old food smushed up against the wall when you do decide to venture in their messy rooms.
9. You’re slowly starting to realize that you might be old or (gasp) even slightly lame.
It happens to all of us. We think of ourselves as the "cool" parent, or at least the "chill" one. But then it starts to sink in that no one is even saying cool or chill anymore — and you might actually be getting older after all.
10. You spend too much time trying to tell them why their look or tone isn’t OK.
They claim they have no idea what you’re talking about or that they didn’t give a look or have a tone. You know the truth, but you start to wonder if it’s really worth it. And you find yourself saying things like “Because I said so,” far more than you’d like.
11. You have Snapchat but don’t really understand or use it.
Chances are, you got it to keep an eye on your child and their account. And you fully intend to do that — once you figure out the best way to use it. Of course, then you might figure out they can just block you or keep their stuff hidden from you. So you might be better off just teaching your kids to practice good online habits instead.
12. You know what minis are and you where Tilted Towers is.
Fortnite is one of the biggest trends happening right now among teens. Everyone seems to be playing it, which means you might start recognizing some of the phrases. You know minis are the little blue juice thingies and Tilted Towers is a place where all the people go for the good loot. (See, this mom is up on her knowledge.)
13. “Bring me back the change,” is a phrase you say regularly.
You’re always being asked for money, and you’re always hoping for change. Here’s a pro tip for you, though. You might start saying, “Bring me back the change…it better be at least $10.” Otherwise, you give them a $20, and you get change of $1.25.
14. You see yourself in them far more than you’d like to admit.
We’ve all been there, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we know how snarky, rude, and annoyed we were growing up. Doesn’t the phrase, “What goes around, comes around,” make sense now?
15. You can’t believe you’re raising such amazing humans.
Yes, the teenage years are rough on parents and kids. But at the end of the day, your kid is often more thoughtful and insightful than many adults. You can’t wait to see where they go. Even if they do cost a bit more in groceries right now.
This post was written by Stacy Tornio, the author of The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book and the mom of two adventurous kids. Together, they like planning vacations centered around the national parks.