*** This rant is brought to you by the third person today that I saw post something about this.***
If you are the parent of one child who is dreading the teenaged years you might want to stop reading this right now, I am probably going to make you angry. Better yet, read this post.
I am going to have teenagers for the next 18 years and I am sick of hearing how horrible it will be when the kids grow up and become teens. Seriously folks. Are they going to turn into monsters on their 13th birthday?
Yes, teenagers can be strong willed. Yes, they can be rebellious. But now is the time for you to be cultivating that mutual respect between you and your not yet teenager. You still have to be their parent (again oh the horrors) but show them that you respect them, and that if they respect you, that you will be willing to give a little.
They are not going to listen to you all the time. But honestly does your two year old? The difference is that you can’t really spank your teen.
So far I only have one teen. I am far (very far) from being the prefect parent, but honestly as much as I like them when they are little kids, I am really looking forward to my kids being teens. This is when they start to develop real thinking skills. It will be a time when we as their parents can really engage their minds. Make them really think about stuff. Not word problems while on the way to grandma’s house, unless that is what your kid is into. Talk about politics and religion. Get them into the deep end of the pool. Help them to understand the way you see things. Try to see things the way they do. Let them form their own opinions while gently guiding them.
This is when physically they can start doing more challenging things, rock climbing, rafting, skiing, backpacking and the miriade of other things that are harder to do with little ones. Run a 5k with your kids once a year. Take a martial arts class with them. Whatever you and they want but to quote Captain Picard, “Engage!”
BTW: I am not saying that I don’t do things with the little kids. My wife and I pride ourselves in not holding back just because we have little kids. (yeah I am that guy, The one at the party who with baby in hand will go fetch the highchair from the basement for the other parent who wants it, and make you look bad.) But I digress.
The point here is that you should be looking forward to those years. Kids are a challenge at every age. As they grow that is not going to change. I am 37 years old and live 1500 miles away from my parents. I bet they still think of me as a challenge. Personally I look forward to the challenge. There are going to be days when I want to tear my hair out, (good thing I don’t have much) but there are days like that already.
I have heard that the messes get bigger and more expensive. Well, yeah they do. But so are the kids getting bigger, and in some ways more expensive. A teen that you are engaged with can take a lot of your time, in the same way a newborn baby can. In some ways that is what they are. But instead of a newborn baby they are a new born adult. I look forward to helping them learn the ropes as much as I know them. I look forward to showing them the way and watching them grow into mature adults.
Will it be all rainbows and puppies? No. Do I think it will be easy? No. But I don’t sit down every night and dread my kids becoming teens. I look forward to it. Embrace your kids. Let them know you love them, and for goodness sakes don’t let them know how much you are dreading them growing up. They will resent you for it.