One thing I’ve realized as a mother to teens is that, back in our younger days, talking about some of the problems or hard times you experienced while you were a mother to younger kids, was a bonding ritual between moms. You were so relieved to see another mother sitting on the park bench sporting a messy bun, and barely holding her s*it together, you took it as an opportunity to make a new friend.
Talking about the sleepless nights, tantrums, picky eaters, and the fact your child liked to spend an hour in each public restroom you visited, was a commonality you used to strengthen your friendship; you didn’t feel alone when you shared these truths with someone. There was such peace that came when you knew someone was going through the same struggles that you were.
But when my kids got older and reached the teen years, I felt like there have been fewer things I can talk about with fellow moms– especially those who have younger kids who haven’t reached the fun, puberty years.
It Can Be Lonely Being the Mom of a Teen
For example, when my daughter is really moody and doesn’t feel like talking or giving a hug to a family member, she comes across as being rude. I feel like I have to explain her behavior when, in reality, she just wants to be left alone. In no time, she is deemed as an ungrateful child who lacks manners and social skills.
Or when my son decided he no longer wanted to participate in team sports and stuck to lifting weights because that’s what is feeding his soul right now, I got eye rolls when I was showing his progress pictures to other parents who have kids who adore running track or playing basketball.
If your child gets caught experimenting with things like drugs, cigarettes, sex or alcohol, they are judged so hard and deemed as the “bad kid” who will likely be a bad influence for the rest of their life. Either these parents have caught their kids, and they don’t want to talk about it, or they have no idea their child has dabbled, too.
And if they are just average, it can feel weird to talk about the fact you accept them for who they are and you don’t push them. You are looked at like you don’t care enough, you are a lazy parent, and you are raising a lazy child. This is not something I’ve made up; this is something I am living right now.
I’ve found raising my teens has been the loneliest part of parenthood. There are certain things that seem to off limits, things you desperately want to talk about and share because you need to talk to someone. Then you regret it because you feel judged way more than you were back in the day if you had the child that was being disobedient, or the child that cried at the drop of a hat, or the child that wouldn’t nap and was a bear every day at school pick up.
At least then you got the occasional “I understand look.” You knew everyone had bad days with newborns, toddlers, and preschoolers.
When they are young, your kids can have play dates, you go the park with them and make small talk with other parents about lost sippy cups and admit you’ve been through the drive-thru twice this week just to get out of the house.
When you have teens, it’s not as acceptable to blurt out that you found a condom in your son’s room, you know someone’s child gave your kid pot, or you think your daughter might have an eating disorder.
No, these days you proceed with caution. You have to not only protect your teen’s privacy, you struggle with how to reach out to other parents. On the surface, it seems so many don’t have these problems, but deep down you are pretty sure they do and you are dying to talk, but you don’t know how to approach these subjects that are so hard to navigate because your emotions are tangled in it all.
You want to walk up to a mom in your teen’s class and say, “Has your child completely shut down and stopped talking to you? Mine has. Can we talk about how horrible this feels?”
Yes you have your close friends you can count on. If they are real and true and really love you, they listen to it all without judgment whether they have teens or not. A lot of us are lucky to have those friends and thank God for them, because most of the time we are trying to shield our kids from the rest of the world for fear of how we appear.
People are drawn to small kids; it’s nothing to stop and talk to five different people and exchange pleasantries when you have a baby in tow each time you visit the grocery store.
But with teens, not so much. There isn’t a place you can go, bring your fifteen- year- old and hope you can find someone going through the exact same stuff with.
It’s lonely here. Really lonely.
I wasn’t expecting it, but I know other parents feel it. And every time we are honest about the struggle of parenting a teenager these days, and can speak freely without judgment, we are making progress.
Let’s keep making progress– we need it.
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The Grown and Flown book is here!