Embracing the Grown Up Child – How to Survive a Brand New Teenager

As I sit here writing this article about the pains of dealing with a growing child, I can just hear my son say, “uh, mom, I’m NOT a child”. Well, sorry to spoil it for you kid, but you are a child and you’ll forever be my child no matter how old you are.

Kids are notorious for telling you what to do. What you did wrong. What you didn’t do. All these facets come into play once you become a parent. But when your child grows steadily into the teenage years, all those declarations of self importance become even more apparent – that you have now entered the emotional, turbulence teenage voyage into adulthood. I say this with a lot of love and endearment, that there’s no one who can test your patience more than your own child. You don’t have to be a Saint to embrace the grown up child, but you should be warned to start diligently placing your patience and tolerance into a box for the times you have to put them to good use on your teenager.

Before I became a mom I was a loving and patient aunt to my nieces and nephews. I love them dearly but I could also easily give them back to their parents. I’d like to think though that watching my nieces and nephews grow up actually helped me as a mom. But I am probably kidding myself or wish it was so. When you’re a parent to your own children every facet of patience and tolerance as an aunt or uncle flew out the window.

As my son entered his early teenage years, I watched and listened to how he interacted with his friends and classmates. Was he kind? Does he get angry and impatient with his friends as I might with him at times? Is he a great friend and a great student? No matter how much I love him and discipline him, I always worry that my own impatience will wear on him. It’s not easy being a parent but I would assume it’s even harder being a child. And I oftentimes reflect to my own teenage years and how I had acted and treated my own parents.

I admit I wasn’t the most tolerable teenager. Some might say I was rebellious but those people didn’t understand I was just being independent. My parents raised my siblings and I to be independent thinkers and I strive to do that with my own child. And as most parents will come to realize – your child will most likely treat you the same way you treated your parents. Be it easy going and relaxed or a demon on Earth, the old adage of you becoming your parents reflect similarly to your own kids. Eventually they’ll become just like you, and that could either be a blessing or a curse.

But as parents, I think we can all pretty much agree that patience and fortitude are what keeps us from going crazy. We can love our kids to death one minute and the next their voices grate our ears like a 20,000 ton freight train. We can discipline them into perfect little A+ students or we can let them run free like the wayward wind. In the end, they will either appreciate what you did or tolerate your parenting skills until they leave the nest.

My son is currently a young teenager but he acts like a grumpy old man sometimes. And when my friends and siblings share stories, it’s incredibly funny how we have such similar instances. Are they ALL related to each other since their capricious moods are all alike? How did my sweet, kind, carefree toddler grow into an impatient, unpleasant, and grumpy teen? I can only cherish the times when he reverts back to the sweet, kind, and innocent child and hold onto those memories…

So I’ve developed some tolerance skills that I want to share with you. Sometimes I really pray they work. But eventually I hope my child has been listening to me all these years and take my lessons to him into adulthood. And if he has his own children some day, I hope he remembers his own grumpy teenage years.

How to survive a brand new teenager:

  • Try to resist yelling at them. If that doesn’t work, yell at them anyway and hope for the best.

  • Try to give them some independence. You’ll be glad that once they can drive they’ll leave you alone for a couple of hours.

  • Once they do have their license and can drive, make them pick up all the last minute stuff that you inadvertently “forgot”.

  • Make them do ten loads of laundry a day that you’ve been doing since they were born. It’ll teach them great hands, arms, and legs coordination.

  • Don’t let them make their own mistakes. Trust me – you’ll be the one fixing them. Instead, you make mistakes and let them fix yours.

  • Find a great therapist. Either you, your spouse, or your kids will eventually need them.

  • Let them be who they are but be watchful. The quickest path to a yelling match is to not allow them self worth.

  • It’s okay to punish them. Tell them you’re doing it “because you love them”.

  • Learn to be on your phone for hours on end just like them. You might even enjoy this new hobby!

  • Ask them a question, then ignore them. This reverse psychology method will surely work, right?

In the end, we all want what’s best for our kids. But it takes a lot of growing pains for the parents and children while your kids are still developing and learning. So be sure to take some time for yourself. Read a book. Write a story. Languish at the pool. Because tomorrow the (arguing, ignoring, late nights, and insert your own action) will once again commence.


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