How I survived raising my teens

Paul Lines By Paul Lines, 28th Oct 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Family>Teenagers

Raising and parenting children through their teenage years is never an easy task.

The teen journey as a parent

When my children were young I used to discard all the stories that circulated about how the teen years would be the crisis time in my child rearing experiences. It was easy to believe then that I would be able to draw strength from the fact that I had once been a teen myself, and could use this experience to ensure that my children would journey through teenage without causing me to so much as raise an eyebrow.

However, as I sit here today, the other side of three teenage year's experiences that, at times, seemed to be unending, scarred and bowed, the one thing that I am thankful for is that I survived the raising of my teens. This is a fact that I feel justly proud of and, as I can now reveal, it took a lot of guile, cunning and inner strength to survive those many years that spanned the time from when my first borne turned thirteen until the third, some twelve years his junior, celebrated his twentieth birthday.

I have to admit that I was not prepared for the child transition from twelve to teen years. It seemed as if, from the morning of their thirteenth year they became almost possessed by the power of teendom. Suddenly the sweet, funny, communicative child who seemed to adore the very ground that I walked on, changed. In its place there was this strange teenager, one who had a language that was foreign to me, composed of grunts most of the time. There was this challenger, who doubted my knowledge experience and cast my opinions into a bin marked "old parent's views," which held little value to the new teen pioneer as they started on the real journey to adulthood.

I acknowledge openly that it took me quite a while to find ways of surviving the long and almost continuous years of three teens and I am grateful to my eldest son, whose journey through this time helped to teach me how to deal with the teen experiences that still awaited.

The first lesson I quickly learned was the one sure way to deal with the sometimes grumpy side of the teenager was to be as wacky, if not more so, than they were. In all my life I have found that humour is the best policy and, believe me, it works with teenagers as well. True they might find it embarrassing and cringe a little, but it does evoke a smile and it is very hard to be grumpy when you are smiling.

The second lesson I learned was tolerance. Teens are often emotionally erratic and this can only be responded to with tolerance and calmness. I have lost count of the times one of my teens would say to me "how can you be so calm?" A short burst of jumping up and down and stamping my feet followed by the question "would you prefer me to be like that?" soon got the point across and, what's more, that little antic made them laugh.

Of course, the lack of discipline of teenage years; the mess that seem to follow everywhere they went and the reluctance to raise so much as a finger to return things to normal, was difficult. I learnt a particularly unusual way of dealing with this. What I would do is this. Last thing at night I would gather all the mess they had left around the house and leave it in a pile in front of their bedroom door. Sure, there were a few tantrums the first couple of times they opened the door in the morning and fell over the pile, but I shut my ears to that. However, after a few weeks, the hint was taken and, although their personal space remained a mess, the rest of the house remained relatively teen free and tidy.

I learnt too about rebellion, something that teens are notoriously good at. It might seem to many parents that this is a time of teen madness and there is nothing you can do but wait for the phase to pass. However, for me I found that it was more them sending a message to me, asking why I had become so safe and comfortable; were the important things in life no longer important or relevant. In this respect, my teen children taught me a lot, particularly how to remain passionate about the things that were important to me and, when I did this, they began to respect me more.

On reflection, I think that the most difficult part of teen years to deal with for me as a father was the emotional roller-coaster that teens seem to go through. My own teen experiences in this respect seemed not to be able to prepare me for this aspect of the teen years for my children. Maybe that was because, as I learnt from three teens, each child is different and there is no set formula that you can apply that will help them each to deal with these psychological and emotional changes. As soon as I learnt to treat them each as individuals in this respect, I was able to be there for them in a positive way. One needed the freedom of solitude and would sit with me without talking until they were ready in their own mind to share. Another wanted to be held and spoken to about how to tackle the emotional journey, never verbally responding but, as she said later, "taking all the advice and help on board and using it to give me strength and a way forward."

Finally, although the teen year is not an experience that I would want to repeat now as a parent, there were some positives to come from them. The first of these was learning about the child-to-teen transformation which, when one looks back on it, was in some ways mesmerising and beautiful to watch. It was like seeing a caterpillar turn into a beautiful butterfly as I watched my three teens develop from the rough and often time’s confused and contrary state of teenage to become adults of whom I will always be amazingly proud. Lastly, but not least, I still can remember the love that I felt for them at that time as I helped in a small way to guide them across the tightrope of the teen years, and that love keeps going.

Tags

Children, Parenthood, Parenting, Teen Life, Teen Problems, Teenagers

Meet the author

author avatar Paul Lines
Having spent a large part of my working life as a business consultant, I am now a full time freelance writer offering content for on-line and print publishers, as well as focusing on creative writing

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Comments

author avatar Denise O
28th Oct 2010 (#)

Well Paul, I am glad to see you made it through it all.
I raised two, a boy and a girl.
I sure do miss them and now that they're 25 and 28...
I wish they were home again.
We have merged into another type of mother-child relationshp, one I absolutely love but,
I still do miss them.
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Melissa Dawn
28th Oct 2010 (#)

Ah paul :-) My parents did the same with the mess thing. And your right after I fell over it a few times, I lost the slob-o self. Glad you survived my friend.

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