“I’m so scared to have teenagers!” or “I want my kids to stay little forever!” I’ve literally heard these and other similar quotes from so many friends and acquaintances when talking about parenting teenage kids.
When our son was entering the teenage years my husband and I decided our motto for these years would be, “Laugh our way through it.” Because we realized very quickly laughter replaces tears, shock, confusion, and fear that comes with parenting this age. If we don’t laugh, we will just spend our time wondering if the adolescents in our care will end up with full-ride academic and athletic scholarships to a top-rated school or flunking out of high school, forgetting their entire upbringing and becoming psycho drug-addicted killers. We all know those are the only two rational choices of course.
Our oldest three children (there are five total), are aged 12, 13 and 14. When they were younger, I remember thinking about how much I loved the little stage. I was so fearful of having teenagers, thinking I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with creatures of that age. They seemed so dark, confused, self-absorbed, weird. Would they want anything to do with me? Would they push back against all we tried to instill in them? Would they still want hugs, heart-shaped food on Valentine’s day and family time? The answer to these questions is yes, yes and yes!! I am seeing now they still need and want all of those things. It just looks a little different.
I tell anyone and everyone that I love the teenage stage so far. I think I love it much more than even those precious little years (although I loved that too). Teens are hilarious, smart and dumb at the same time, curious and self-reflective. They are figuring out what they like, who they are, what they like to do best. They make some choices that make you so proud to be their parent and others that make you want to hide under a rock, but didn’t we all?
One of my favorite ways to spend some quality time (in short bursts because that’s all they will give you), is in the car. Driving here or there with one kid is the perfect time to laugh with them or at them, talk about the hard things in life or their dreams and hopes for tomorrow. While it feels like torture for them to set their lifeline down (phone) and communicate with you for a few minutes, they’ll do it!
Laugh! All the time. Daily. Laugh with your teens and for sure laugh at them. They do the absolute dumbest things that are hysterical. Write them down to use in your speech at their graduation party or wedding. Embarrass them. I promise they actually kind of like it. Drive them right up to school in your work car with the lights flashing, video them after wisdom tooth surgery, do the floss dance in front of their friends (just random examples of course never attempted in our house)! You need laughter and funny stories to carry everyone through these years. Funny memories to reminisce about when the hard moments and pain threaten to drown everything else out.
Find some funny people. Friends, family, parents of other teenagers. You need a community of people to get together and laugh about how dumb and funny the teenagers around you are.
And, for the love, get a family motto. Feel free to use ours. Parenting is the absolute hardest and the best job out there. Laughter is truly the best medicine out there. So enjoy the little stages and enjoy the teens too! Step out of fear having teenagers and into the joy and laughter it can bring! LOL!