Parenting is hard. Right from the very beginning, the fantasy of being a Mom is replaced with the exhausting reality of caring for an infant. There’s a lot of support when our tinies are tiny, but not so much as our children grow. I’ve never seen a bestseller called, What to Expect the Teen Years. Plus, babies are adorable, teenagers – well, they are often a face only a mother can love.
I still don’t quite have my head around the difficulties of raising teens, it’s hard, messy, and isolating work. There are currently 3 of them in my household, with 2 more still to come. My mom used to say to me, while she was raising her teens, “the question isn’t if you want a baby, the question you ask yourself is do you want a teenager?” I obviously listened to her wisdom wholeheartedly.
The move from concrete to abstract thinking while learning independence and enduring incredible growth is hard on our teens and brutal on us moms. The fierce protective drive we have over our kids as they are little doesn’t go away, but at this odd and transitional point in life, we are supposed to let them experience pain, let them fail, and begin to let them go. It’s the complete opposite of every intrinsic drive we have as a parent. Yet, if we don’t stop protecting we fail to prepare our children for a successful life. Many days this part of the parenting journey seems more like a lose/ lose scenario vs. any type of a win.
These aren’t millennial kids we are raising. These are the GenZ or iGen kids who’ve had a world of information available to them since they first opened their eyes. The book isn’t constructed yet on teens growing up in a social media-driven electronic age. I feel in many ways they are living test subjects of technology and will be one of the generations who pays a great price for society’s experimentation.
This is no small job we have to parent this generation. I feel the weight of it every single day and spend a good chunk of each day on my knees. I have to tell myself frequently that they will fall and should get hurt to properly learn. I have to let my own issues of perfectionism and image go, while also feeling the pain they are walking through. They feel it’s all about them (all of the time) and they don’t get that it’s also about me. We are both actors in this drama: one story is about letting go and the other story is about rising up. As Brene Brown says, “The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens.”