On living with teenagers

Taking care of babies is so much easier than taking care of teenagers. As a new parent, I had so much angst, so much fretfulness, so much worry . . . and really, I should have saved all that emotion for now when I am living with twin 14-year olds. Babies are a breeze. Teenagers, not so much.
Would anyone ever become a parent if they had to start with a greasy-haired kid who finds it outrageous that his parent might criticize his work-ethic?

I’m just saying.

The other thing about teenagers is that they are beginning the process of separating and stretching out to become an individuals. And inevitably, as they grow, they move away–imperceptibly at first and then in giant leaps and bounds until you gaze across an impassable gulf at this child who used to snuggled into your elbow while you read a story to him.

Parenthood is about breaking apart my heart and rearranging it again in a new, surprising way. That, and about cleaning up messes you never knew another human being could make without a trace of guilt. (And then, they act surprised when I demand that they STOP PEEING ON THE BATHROOM FLOOR!)

12 thoughts on “On living with teenagers

  1. Hello, I couldn’t agree more. I am 39…I’ll be 40 in March. My kids are 19, 20 and 21, soon all to be 20, 21 and 22. And, let me tell you. I’m still shellshocked. I was never seriously warned that “it” (it being the difficulty parenting teens) doesn’t end when they’re 18 or graduate high school. No, it doesn’t. It keeps getting harder and harder. At least, it did for me. It’s true, that being a parent consists of having your heart taken apart and then put back together. My heart broke when they turned into these wonderful, terrible, galuting (if that’s a word), adult-sized, childish-acting creatures. Well, that part was to be expected. But, my heart broke when I realized they would never be little again. And now, these rude containers of teenaged fury took my little ones’ place… having to adjust to that shock…. Golly. I’m still shellshocked. Of course, I love them so. I love these young adults. I do. But, I have just started to adjust, after all these years, to them being so darned “big”. I know it’s part of The Plan, that they do this. I know that. But, part of me is still searching for the little ones they were. Perhaps part of me always will.


  2. You’ve dashed my hopes again. Here I’ve been clinging to the belief that the peeing on the bathroom floor thing would stop as they get older.

    It’s just wrong, isn’t it? Stepping into a puddle of cold pee?


  3. And then, one day before you know it, they’re 18 and start becoming a couple of the best friends you’ve ever had. At least, that’s the case it’s been with our two who are now 29 and 31. Just yesterday they were a couple of rambunctious young teens, too. There IS light at the end of the tunnel, Mel.


  4. Kris is right. There IS light at the end of the tunnel.

    But, the floor peeing? I do not believe that EVER stops. This is due to the legs growing at a faster rate than the ‘ahem’. Boys don’t get that.

    Mother’s – teach your boys to sit!


  5. Ah yes, the joys of parenthood. I’m one of those terribly cynical people who sits at baby showers for young pregnant moms that just can’t get beyond the thought ‘they have no idea what they’re in for’. I love all of my children dearly…but sometimes I just don’t think I can LIVE with them a DAY LONGER! I get tired of being so STUPID! 🙂 Oh well…I hear this stage passes. Bring it on!


  6. What is really bad is when I walk into the hallway and see my almost 18 year old standing in the bathroom doorway, aiming at the toilet, and not coming close to hitting it. That is when I hand him the bathroom cleaning tools and tell him to enjoy himself.


  7. This is God’s supersneaky plan to get teenagers out of the house. Permanently. At last. Nature (via testosterone and estrogen poisoning) causes them to become obnoxious, mouthy, opinionated sluggards who scorn their parents with dripping sarcasm, expert eye-rolling and poisonous barbed tongues. So nice.

    It seems they must learn to hate you so that they can finally separate from you. And vice versa. Not that you hate them, exactly, but their thrusts have wounded you to tears far too often. Turning them loose becomes more and more attractive.

    You learn that you don’t actually want them to stay under your roof. You learn that you will be happy to bid adieu to pee on the bathroom floor, tampons on the kitchen table, and plates gunked with moldy mystery food under the bed.

    They will eventually leave with your blessing. And—BIG AND–many times they return. But in that interim you have both learned compromise and appreciation.

    You know what? You will always love them lavishly, no matter what they become or fail to achieve. They will someday make you a grandmother, that holy retribution, that sacred fulfillment. You will love it.


  8. Wait! I don’t want them to hate me in order to leave the nest! Can’t there be another way to mature young people to act independently? I don’t WANT them to leave at 18, or 21 for that matter. So what if they mess up AND make a mess? Make them clean it up! If they don’t want to clean it up, then you shouldn’t either. Well, that is, unless you actually have to share the bathroom with them. I gave the sole bathroom cleaning responsibilities her own bathroom to my 13 year old a year ago. It took a little while, but she’s doing just great. Not exactly squeaky clean and certainly not germ free, but it would pass the “company” test.

    I guess I”m in the minority of those moms who cling to the promise that our kids CAN be our friends, even through adolescence. Sure, there are moments that I wish wI could do over and words I wish were left unsaid, but for the most part….do you enjoy your teenager? Are you proud of them? Are you pleased with the individual they are becoming? Are they slowly learning how to navigate through the bumpy road to adulthood called adolescence?

    As per young men peeing on the floor, how about locking the bathroom door until they learn how to pee IN the toilet? You could set up a port a potty outside. They could shower at the athletic club, they do sell shower privileges. If they are old enough to know better than to PURPOSELY pee on the floor, then they don’t deserve the luxury of peeing in indoor plumbing!! OK, so this sound a little radical, but I’m just brainstorming here…..


You know you want to comment here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s