Whether you are smack in the middle of the teen years, or just getting ramped up wondering what has happened to your sweet child who seems to have left the building, we all need a little (okay, a lot) of help to survive these years.
Teen Survival Guide: 8 Tips
1. Don’t Look In Their Bedroom
This just makes everyone so much happier. I shut the door as I’m walking by and find it ajar to prevent going to the bad place. Their rooms are the one place in our home that is theirs and there’s no use trying to get them to make it look like it belongs in the pages of Pottery Barn. Or to get them to have a floor free of clutter. Or to assume they won’t have a stack of crusty dishes in on their nightstand, dresser, or bed.
Their room can be clean when they move out. And I have a feeling when that day comes, I’ll stand in their doorway, look at the emptiness, and wish I could see their mess sprawled around the room because that would mean they weren’t gone.
2. When In Doubt Stock Up On Their Favorite Food
When they like something, buy extra. Teenagers like to dive into the grocery bags as soon as they carry them into the house and devour their favorite snacks. I’d rather buy a few extra bags of their favorite chips, extra containers of the yogurt they like, and throw a few more frozen pizzas in the grocery cart instead of running out of food exactly 2 minutes after I get home.
It’s a small thing I can do that makes them happy, saves me time, and I don’t have to listen to them complain. I can save money on groceries when they move out. Until then, I’ll buy extra.
3. Always Assume They Need Socks
I feel like the socks I have purchased since my kids were born could cover Mount Fuji. When they are younger, it’s expected to have missing socks since those little suckers never stay on their feet. I was hoping for some relief as they got older but this hasn’t happened. In fact, I think it’s gotten worse.
Whenever I am out, I assume they need socks and I grab them because it improves my quality of life. I got really tired of my kids complaining there were no socks and watching them get in the car to go to school with one black knee sock and one white ankle sock stressed me out.
4. They Aren’t Going To Wear A Coat
I’ve asked my kids to wear a coat enough times to wear out my vocal cords over the years. They aren’t going to do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s twelve degrees and they are going to school, it’s pouring rain, or there is a blizzard and they are running to the end of the driveway to get the mail or help me shovel. In their mind, a coat is not required and I’ve stopped thinking they are going to get cold and listen to my advice. This has saved me a lot of time and unnecessary stress.
5. Some Words Will Be Replaced By Strange Sounds
You can ask your teenagers the most interesting questions and you may get a grunt instead of an actual answer. Even if my kids are excited to go to a friend’s house, they score in their lacrosse game, or have a new crush who likes them back, their vocabulary around these subjects are limited.
I’ve learned to accept this but it took some time since their words were so colorful and they got so excited when they were younger. As they go through puberty, a bit of their joyous, vibrant selves gets sucked out of them. This transition seems to be harder for the parents then the kids. My best coping mechanism for this: Enjoy the silence, you’ve earned it.
6. Always Remember They Still Need You
No matter what they say, or how many times they shut you out (literally and figuratively), your teens need you to stay present in their lives and not waiver with the rules even if they tell you differently. They don’t realize it at the time, but consistency and setting limits make them feel loved and taken care of, even if they feel they are missing out because they have been given a consequence for bad behavior.
Teenagers rarely find the words to tell you they need you but something I’ve realized after being a teen myself and raising three of them is that they need to feel needed and seen. They want to know you still care about them even if they mess up.
7. Your Stuff Will Disappear
Your sock drawer will be invaded (see number 3). Your chocolate stash will be found. Money will be taken from your wallet even if you tell them it’s off-limits. Your favorite water bottle will be confiscated and you’ll find it a month later in their room with something blossoming in the fermented orange juice.
You can tell your kids to ask permission before taking something of yours and they will remember sometimes and forget others. Just as I forget to return my son’s sweatpants after wearing them for two days straight because they are so darn comfortable and the company he bought them from doesn’t make them any longer.
8. Don’t Stop Talking
These years might make you feel like your mind and body have been put through a cheese grater and you are going to need to talk about it. Find a friend you trust, talk to your therapist, call your mom. Whatever it takes, you need to let it out and not feel like you need to keep yourself buttoned up to give the appearance that all is right in the world.
We all know raising kids has so many ups and downs. No one should go on this ride alone.