Parenting teenagers - my favorite age
I prefer teenagers. I successfully raised two of them (if I do say so myself). And - I enjoyed being their parent more and more as they grew.
Ok, I know I am in the minority. But, as a parent (and grandparent) – the older the kids get, the more enjoyment I get from them. We all know people who love babies. They love to hold them, smooch them, burp them. As my kids got older, I realized that there just aren't very many parents that prefer teenagers. To me, the older my kids became the more absolute fun and gratification I received.
Sure, babies are cute. They are cuddly. Babies can't really disappoint you. But, teenagers don't need a diaper change usually. An exaggeration I realize, but, let me tell you the joy I get as my kids and grandkids age:
I Heart teenagers because:
1. You can celebrate their achievements – with them.
The first time my daughter learned how to do a back flip. When my son designed and drove an electric car. It is a joy to see their prowess grow, and so rewarding to be there to see the satisfaction on their faces.
2. You can explain things – especially frustrating things – to an older child.
It challenges you to understand things yourself – and sometimes to admit you don’t know either – but, let's see if we can find out.
I have explained why an iPad doesn't work in my car – but does work at home. (what is wifi – and how does it work?)
When my son was young, we talked about how to "troubleshoot" something. A lamp doesn't turn on. You need to change 1 variable at a time: the lightbulb, then the outlet for example.
There may not be 'easy' answers, but explaining complex things can be funny, touching, challenging and important.
3. They have a sense of humor.
My grandson (ok, he is 5 - not a teenager) thinks it is hysterical to imitate the character in Frozen who says "Big summer blowout!" He dissolves into fits of giggles. It makes ME giggle. I still remember the first joke he shared with us. (for reference, here it is: "why don't bears wear socks?" Answer: "because they have bear (bare) feet.")
To me, the development of a sense of humor is as important a milestone as a toddler learning to walk.
When my kids were teens sarcasm and humor were some of the most used tools in our communications. It helps to say 'no' with humor. It helps to point out a bad decision with sarcasm. ("how did that work for you?")
4. You can prepare them for leaving the nest.
I really look at parenting a teenager (especially) as an "adult rehearsal." I know some parents who make all the decisions for their teen - until they turn 18. Suddenly, the parent says "you are an adult now – you decide."
When my son was old enough for a "school permit" to drive, I was happy that he would have literally years of supervised driving experience before he had to go solo.
I believe in giving a teenager several years to practice making decisions. Those years are kind of like flying on that adult trapeze with a safety net below. Once the little bird is ready to leave the nest – flying alone is not a totally new experience.
5. You can look at the person they have become and feel wonderful that you had a part in that metamorphosis.
I look at my son and see the Dad and husband he has become. The wonderful provider he is. The kind way he worries about me – or his own Grandma.
I see my daughter and am proud of the way she has educated herself (all online while holding a full time job), taking an overnight position so she could improve the health of her two daughters (daycare was causing enormous issues with ear infections and asthma) and how important her husband is to her.
Although I was a single mom, frequently traveling (overseas) on business – I look at them and think – 'maybe I did some things right.'
After all – being Mom and Grandma is definitely the most rewarding, fulfilling, endearing and important job I have ever had.