There’s only one thing harder than raising a child, and that’s raising a teenager. You’re suddenly faced with major changes—changes of the body, mood swings, desire for more control. And that’s just the parent . . .
The teen also experiences dramatic change. Don’t be surprised if your teen gains interest in his friends and loses interest in certain things he used to enjoy, such as his parents.
Some specialists divide the “surviving the teenage years” phase into periods: early teen, middle teen, and umpteen. The umpteen years are the period where you yell things like, “For the umpteenth time, I told you to clean your clothes off the bathroom floor, clear the old bowls of chili from under your bed, and strip your underwear from your jeans before you throw them in the wash!”
This is why at the beginning of the teen years parents should make sure their kids get enough sleep, eat healthy food, and move into their own apartment.
A teenager experiences such rapid physical change that things appear to grow overnight. One day your teenage son goes to bed with peach fuzz above his upper lip and the next day he comes to breakfast wearing more facial hair than an orthodox rabbi.
Teens develop special language skills, like the unique ability to shrink entire sentences into a string of three letter abbreviations: “OMG, POS, GTG !” (Oh my God, parent over shoulder, gotta go!).
They also start to use universal facial expressions to express themselves:
Parent: “I don’t care if Josh’s parents are letting him go to a Smackin Isaiah concert on a school night.”
Teen: Furls eyebrows.
Parent: “Video games aren’t going to get you into college.”
Teen: Eye roll.
Parent: “Did you remember to call grandma for her birthday?”
Teen: Blank stare.
Teens begin to pay closer attention to appearance: “Mom, don’t ever wear that dress in public again.”
It’s hard to watch our kids grow up. My daughter used to wear underpants decorated with cute Disney characters. Now Cinderella and Snow White have been replaced with words like “Juicy.”
A teen does not want to be treated as a child. Some parents aren’t ready to accept this. They pack their teens juice boxes and teddy grahams and wonder why their kids insist on buying lunch at school each day.
It’s important to treat teens like grown individuals. This means helping them learn new life skills, like how to drive a car. It may also mean teaching them more difficult skills, like how to unwrap your car from a telephone pole . . .
It’s time for me to face that my daughter’s umbilical chord is no longer attached. I’m sure of this, because two weeks after she was born I found it in the lint compartment of our clothes dryer.
Soon I will be sending my daughter off to college where she will be attending The University of Far from Home.
It makes me sad to send her off, but I know that no matter where she is, my role will always be to nurture, comfort and protect.
I also know that she will always be reminded of that— every time her hamper is full.