In a few weeks, my youngest child will turn 13. This means I will officially be the mom of teenagers and only teenagers. While I’m processing all this, I keep running across posts like “10 Things Never to Say to the Mom of a Newborn” and “What Not to Say to a New Parent.”
On behalf of my fellow parents of teenagers, I’d like to say I’d be fine if I never heard any of these classics again:
Ten Things NOT to Say to Parents of Teens
1. “Wow, you’ve got teenagers? That must be rough.”
Yes, it can be. Kind of like having kids in general. Or having any relationship with any other human being in general. But it also can be–and often is–stunningly wonderful. Teenagers are funny and fascinating. They dress themselves and direct themselves and drive themselves. They’re honing their gifts and talents, and sometimes you get to see these on full display. They watch movies with you that you’d choose even if they weren’t watching with you. Sometimes they engage you in deep conversations that take your breath away. They are becoming not only your dependents but also your friends.
2. “Isn’t it hard not to be needed anymore?”
Hmm, let’s see. Earlier today, I was needed about 20 times before 7 a.m. I’ll be needed at least few dozen times between now and 10 p.m. tonight. I’m 46 years old and still need my mom on a regular basis. So, no, not really.
3. “Isn’t car insurance terrible?”
Yes. On the other hand, having a (responsible, trustworthy) teenage driver is pretty much the best thing ever.
4. “Aw, pretty soon you’ll be an empty nester. Aren’t you going to be lonely?”
Well, maybe, so thanks for pointing that out. But maybe not…my 13-year-old is hardly setting up her own place anytime soon, and my 18-year-old likes home just fine and plans to stick around for a while.
5.“College is so expensive!”
Got it. Care to donate to our extended education scholarship fund?
6. “Have you heard ‘I hate you’ yet?”
Actually, no. But both my girls did tell me they loved me on their way out the door this morning.
7. “Mine are still little, but I’m already dreading the teen years.”
I’m living in the teen years, so does that mean I should clothe myself in sackcloth and ashes? True, you could choose to hover in fear of the horrible things that might happen when your children arrive at an age that ends in “teen.” But you could also decide to look forward to all the benefits and blessings of having older kids. Frankly, I dreaded my preschooler asking me to play “Princess Memory” a lot more than I dread most of what goes in our life these days.
8. “What are they going to do with their life when they get out of high school?”
Um, I’m not sure. Probably get a job. Or go to college. Or volunteer. Or travel overseas. You know, unless they do something else. I can tell you what their passions, interests, and skills are right now, though. Would you like to hear about them?
9. “Doesn’t it make you sad that they’re growing up and moving on?”
Growing up and moving on is what kids are supposed to do. What would make me sad is if something had happened so that they were not here to do the growing and moving or I was not here to see it. I want to be grateful that “something” did not happen. They are here to be teenagers. I am here to be the mom of teenagers. This makes me glad, not sad.
10. “Don’t you miss the days when they were little?”
There’s always something to miss in life. But more than what I miss is what I’m so grateful for: the gift and privilege and miracle of this day, this season, this stage—and the hope of what’s still to come.
Elizabeth Spencer is mom to one tween-going-on-teen and one full-on teen, both daughters. She’s been married for 21 years to a very patient husband who carries on valiantly as the token male in a house of estrogen. When she’s not avoiding housework by spending time on her blog, Guilty Chocoholic Mama, or on Facebook, she plays the piano badly, bakes chocolate-chip cookie that cover a multitude of maternal sins, and tries to keep up her lone talent of being able to stand on her head.