From the time they were babies, I heard the warnings. Enjoy them while they’re little because it’s difficult parenting teens. I heard the jokes about how awful it is to live with teens. I heard the warnings about how they would instantly turn into smart mouthed rebels
who stayed locked in their rooms all day. One infamous joke I remember told from a youth pastor suggested putting kids in a barrel with a hole for food and water when they turned 13. And then when they turned 16 stop up the hole.
I have to admit I was a little afraid to parent teens.
We’ve tried to parent deliberately. We’ve tried to make decisions during the early years with a vision in mind of what we hoped to accomplish in the long run. We certainly have not done it right all the time. There are many things I know we should have done differently. But I am finding that some of that deliberate parenting is paying off as our children are becoming teens. They aren’t really the monsters we were warned about. In fact, sometimes I really enjoy them.
Of course they aren’t perfect. Neither are we. We argue sometimes. They bicker sometimes. There is occasional door slamming- although it’s quickly corrected. There are bad attitudes some days. (But some days I have a bad attitude too!) But there are quite a few things I’m really enjoying about my kids as they have headed into the teen years.
I enjoy having adult conversations.
With four children, there were many years of nursery rhymes and deciphering toddler babbles and the endless “why” years and Blues Clues. There were days I didn’t have an adult conversation all day until I swamped poor Jason when he came home from work. Now I actually have grown people that can carry on conversations with me. I can bounce ideas off of them. I can ask them questions. We can have a discussion. I really like that they enjoy coming and sitting in my room and talking at night. Sometimes I’m ready to shut down and go to sleep, but that time is very important for both of my teenagers, so I try to be “on” for their conversations.
I enjoy listening to the opinions they’ve formed.
For so long in the formative years we spend time just teaching our worldview. But when my kids headed into their teen years, they formed some pretty strong opinions of their own. Sometimes their opinions are the same as mine. Sometimes they are different. Sometimes they start with the same thought, but they’ve developed it in a different way. I love hearing their opinions. Having those discussions helps shape them and me.
While parenting teens, I can see them serve.
Seeing my teenagers want to serve in our church and our community is a blessing to me. Both of them serve in our church’s children’s ministry. They are well loved by the young children in our church. They love serving, and they are very willing to help out. As I get older and have some physical challenges, my serving is more limited. But I can still facilitate their service, and I love watching them step in and be the next generation in service to God.
I enjoy hanging out.
Playing with my little kids was fun. I still enjoy playing with my 9 and 8 year old. But hanging out with my teenagers is like hanging out with grownups. I like playing board games with my son. He can usually beat me. I like taking my daughter to the store with me because she likes to talk as much as I do, and we can have good conversations. I like that I can tell jokes with my teens, and they actually get them. We can watch movies that aren’t animated. We just have fun hanging out.
So parenting teens is a blessing. They aren’t the great trial I was warned about. It isn’t easy all the time for sure. It is a parenting stage that is sometimes challenging—as they all are in some ways— but it is also enjoyable. I love my teens.
Leah Courtney is a homeschooling mom of four. She was a school teacher in her former life and now loves homeschooling her children. Recently she began the adventure of homeschooling a high schooler. She loves reading and reviewing and blogging about life and homeschooling. You can visit her at As We Walk Along the Road.