18 July 2010

Parenting Teens

“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person's character lies in their own hands.”  
~Anne Frank~

I used to judge parents.  I used to be the one, when my girls were little, who would sit on the park bench while my darling little daughters played, as sweet little girls do, and look at other people's children and marvel at how well behaved my mine were in comparison.  I used to wonder what was wrong with those parents, how come they had such awful kids.  I used to see friends or acquaintances who had messed up teens.  Granted I didn't have teens yet, but oh how I stood in judgment of those parents.  The things they must have done wrong in raising their kids, those terrible teens, rebellious, outcasts, always in trouble. Those terrible parents, they did such an awful job of parenting. 

Now that I have teens:  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!  The joke is now on me! 

I have now repented of my past thoughts.  Oh how easy it is to stand in judgment until you have walked in another's shoes.  

Sure I still think how we parent affects our kids.  But I no longer think I have complete control over how my kids will turn out. They are individuals, each one completely different.  They have their own way of viewing the world and how they see themselves in it.  It is amazing when you have more than one child to see how different they are.  Usually you have parented them both the same.  Sure birth order affects some of how we parent, but for the most part, unless you blatantly favor one child over another, they were raised in the same house, shouldn't they be similar?  Not always. 

I never thought I'd have teen issues.  (I know, am I completely naive/stupid/ignorant/arrogant or what?)  I thought because I was raising my kids in a home of mutual respect, where I tried to always hear my kids side of things, where I often changed my mind on things after hearing their opinion, where I thought we had complete and total communication, that I wouldn't have teen issues.  Teens only acted out when they weren't heard/understood/cared for.  I did/do all of those things for my kids.  Surely they wouldn't go through any teen angst stuff.  Hahahahahahahahahahahaha.  I'm laughing so hard to keep from crying. 

This parenting thing is hard.  I never really thought it would be easy.  I remember when I had my eldest daughter.  She was about 3 weeks old.  I was tired/overwhelmed/feeling a bit post-partum and my mother came to visit.  I was crying to my mom that I didn't know what I was doing, how hard this baby thing was, and that maybe I should have stuck with cats (I am serious cat person : )  Sometimes I still feel that way.

Of course I love my daughters dearly and wouldn't trade them for cats any day.  But in my naivety I thought each stage would get easier.  Hahahahahahahahahhaha (there I go laughing to keep from crying again).  It was physically hard on me when they were young.  I got very little sleep, always felt like I needed to "do" for them, be it feeding, bathing, changing, etc.  It would get emotionally hard when I was exhausted, especially when I felt like I had no support or because I had to do everything myself.  But it wasn't emotionally hard in that I had to deal with their emotions.  It wasn't emotionally hard because they were breaking my heart. Now that I am parenting teens, it is no longer physically hard, but it is emotionally hard.  Teenagers rip your heart from your chest. 

I remember being a teen.  I am not one of those parents who has completely forgotten her childhood/teen years and parent from a place of "do as I say not as I do".  I was a horrible teen.  I remember it vividly.  Granted my parents were no "parents of the year" and they had big issues of their own which didn't translate into parenting well, but looking back I know they did the best they could.  I suffered from terrible angst, although I only really showed it at home.  I was bitchy and moody.  All the time.  I was rebellious and all that entails.  I remember once my mother telling me she couldn't wait until I had teenagers of my own.  Well mom, I know you aren't here to see it, but you must be smirking in heaven, because it seems you have gotten your wish, I have teenagers! 

I love my girls, I really do.  I wouldn't trade this life for anything.  I'd lay down my life for them.  And some days are wonderful, we are good friends and able to hang out and have fun and talk.  Just what I dreamed my life with my daughters would be like.  Then other days, {shudder}, it's like they were abducted by aliens overnight and are no longer my children.  Those days are hard.  They make me question everything I have ever done since they were born.  Those days make me long for when they were toddlers, oblivious to the influences of the world.  Just warm little bundles of joy, who just wanted to curl up in mama's lap.  I know I can't go back in time and I really don't want to.  I look forward to watching them grow up and become young women who have lots to offer this world.  And I know they have lots to offer.  I know they can make a difference in this world.  If they can only survive these teen years.  Terrible two's?   Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!  They ain't got nothing on the terrible teens!  

"can't you see that you're smothering me
holding too tightly, afraid to lose control
cause everything that you thought i would be
has fallen apart right in front of you"

~Linkin Park -  

1 comment:

unschoolermom said...

It is so easy to judge. I used to judge parenting styles and even homeschooling styles. Then I discovered that all children are different. Just because one thing works for one child does not mean the same thing works for another child.

Thank you for the post! I'm praying!