Mom Knows Best? The Art and Challenge of Parenting Teens


Parenting a teenager

When will teens listen and understand that I want what is best for them? When will they realize that mom KNOWS what is best!?

Living with a 17-year-old and a 15-year-old is interesting, but it is indeed an art and a challenge to parent teens unlike any other I have encountered. How can I simultaneously feel so much love and also want to change so much of what they do? Whose smart idea was it to have two kids, two years apart, and now have two teenagers under one roof at the same time?

But it is my oldest that I struggle with the most, and it is probably NOT her fault.

Parenting teens in their senior year of high school and going through the college application process is almost like living with a tornado that doesn’t end. Truthfully, she was always a ton of ‘fun’ to parent with a strong-willed personality and opinions. Starting from a young age, when it was too quiet in the house, it was time to check what she was up to. Inevitably we’d find that she was up to something amusing and borderline questionable. And now, she is determined to do things on her own.

But how can I trust that she knows what is good for her at this young age?

Tis the art and challenge of parenting teens! How far should I remove my opinions and allow her to make her own decisions at this crucial stage of her life? If I impose my thoughts too strongly, and she does what I say, will she blame me in the future if it isn’t right for her (no matter how strongly I feel that it IS)?

Living with a teen who has strong opinions is a struggle that endures through many issues, and continuously butting heads isn’t fun at all. My goal is not to make an enemy out of her, but my goal is to have a strong relationship that endures the test of time and future differences of opinion that are sure to come our way. I wish I can save her the heartache of errors along the way.

I simultaneously realize that this too shall pass, and a year from now, she will not be home. How do I let go then? Do I stop asking where you have gone today? How was school? What did you eat? Who are your friends? Why did you go to class dressed in that?

Yes, I too can hear the helicopter blades spinning…but does it all just stop? Will she come to me on her own eventually and ask for my opinion? If she does, is that permission for me to speak freely, or will I always need to watch my words? I fear the latter from my own experience in how I internalize my own mom’s opinions. Sometimes mom’s views can be too much. The art and challenge of parenting teens continues!

Perhaps it is the reality of ‘you reap what you sow.’ I aimed to raise strong girls, and here we are, certainly heading in that direction. It is time to let them go. Fingers crossed that she learns how to use her strong will for the greater good, and it will serve her well in the future, not just with Mom and Dad!