What Nobody Tells You About Raising Teenagers

When my kids were all little, I looked forward to their teenage years about as much as I looked forward to a root canal. It’s one thing to make a six-year-old eat his broccoli, but it’s quite another to navigate puberty, high-school drama, and the myriad other minefields that are allsthings raising teenagers into contributing members of society.

Remember those What to Expect books? There’s a reason they didn’t write one for teenagers.

There’s not much of a manual for small humans, but I could impart various wisdoms on topics such as how the hell to get a kid to not completely destroy the house while you shower. I could also tell you stories of all the times it didn’t work.

Here’s the thing about teenagers…as different as small humans are…teens are that times a million. They are wonderfully complex and basically adults waiting to happen.

And we are on the cusp of having 5 teenagers in our home. All. At. The. Same. Time.

Jealous? Maybe you should be.

6 Things Nobody Tells You About Raising Teenagers

  1. There’s never a dull moment.
  2. They are completely different, no matter how many you have.
  3. Pre-adults are just figuring out who they are and that’s ok.
  4. All that independence you foster in their childhood is awesome and frustrating.
  5. They really are overgrown toddlers sometimes.
  6. They smell.

There’s never a dull moment.

Truly. Think you are going to get a good night’s sleep now that your small human is taller than you? Think again. You’ll be up doing fun things like waiting for them to come home from work (I don’t remember fast food joints closing so damn late), or pulling their vehicles out of the mud because off-roading late at night sounded like a good idea.

I mean, it’s not the same as cleaning marker off the walls. But…

They are completely different, no matter how many you have.

You’d think with so many to compare, there’d be similarities. That’s a hard nope.

It’s actually super awesome because they are each becoming themselves. But it also makes parenting them 100 bajillion times more difficult because NOTHING IS THE SAME.

Kid 1: The hermit kind who keeps his nose to the ground and always does his homework.

Kid 6: Squirrel.

Kid 3: Impossibly neat.

Kid 2: Probably going to be a hoarder.

Pre-adults are just figuring out who they are and that’s ok.

One day, my son, whose hair I had been begging him to cut for MONTHS, walks in with dredlocks. He had been planning it for quite some time, but for some reason decided that mentioning his plan was not important.

(I would have quit asking him to cut his crazy hair.)

It’s the beginning of making other bigger life decisions. We’ve discovered that the best thing we can do is give advice they may or may not take, and love them.

Dredlocks, crazy cars, piercings and all. Self-discovery is awesome and powerful.

All that independence you foster in their childhood is awesome and frustrating.

I’ve always raised my humans with the attitude that I am raising them to leave home. (Only 500 more years to go and 8 more kids to launch.)

They are all very independent humans. Which is great.

But they also do things like, “Oh, by the way, I’m getting an award at this ceremony thing tomorrow night. You can come if you want to.”

Wait, what? Uh, yeah I’ll be there.

Or this one, “So I’m working two jobs now.” “When did that happen?” “IDK, a couple weeks ago, I guess.”

Awesome. And frustrating.

They really are overgrown toddlers sometimes.

Ever seen a teenager meltdown? Just think of your threenager on the worst of days, only bigger.

We often talk to our mid-tier teens/tweens (12ish to 14ish) about how it’s important to experience these big emotions, but we are here to help them figure out what the hell to do with them. They don’t like to let us, but lucky for us (see point #1) they give us the opportunity on a regular basis to coach them in the finer points of emotion management.

Like the time they all traded journals. You can imagine how well that went.

They smell.

I remember how wonderful their little heads smelled when they were infants. I would lather their squishy bodies down with that baby lotion and sniff the tops of their heads all day.

I miss those days.

Now, it’s as if I’ve invented this new torture called THE SHOWER.

“But. Mom. Ugh. I JUST showered like, two days ago. Do I HAVE to?”

Their feet smell. Their rooms smell. They smell two minutes after a shower.

I think the oldest (granted he’s 20) may have finally discovered the joy in not smelling like something from yesterday’s gym class.

The silver lining

I absolutely adore our teenagers. It’s mass chaos and totally awesome. Watching them grow into young adults is one of the most incredible experiences so far. And my dear husband who inherited a slew of teenagers…

Well, he’s still here, so it can’t be THAT bad.

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