Saturday, March 12, 2011


Recently, I was at an appointment making small talk with a woman I had just met. She asked about my kids, and how old they were. As soon as I mentioned that my daughter had just turned 13, the woman's face got serious, and she gravely said "Oh....I am so sorry,"

"Um...thanks, but she's really pretty fun." I replied.

The woman continued to look at me with a deeply sad look, as if I had just said we all had some excruciatingly painful disease. "Yes, but that's the age when they really turn on you."

Turn on me? What does that mean, anyway? I think she was implying that I could say goodbye to sweet little girl, and get ready for a rebellious demon. Well, that's a little negative and dramatic, I thought.

This stranger is not the first person to share their opinion about the overall unpleasantness that you can expect if you are unlucky enough to be the mother of a teen daughter. A common consensus seems to be that the next few years of my life are doomed to misery because my daughter will turn awful, be mean, treat everyone terribly, and worst of all....there is nothing I can do about it. Well, rather than just planning on locking ourselves in separate rooms and resigning myself to the idea that we won't be able to stand each other until it's all over, I am thinking I'll take a different approach.

There are all sorts of comments I could make about about people sharing their unpleasant forecasts for the future, but, since I'm on the "no smack talk for Lent" pledge, I will instead focus on some of the many things I love about my newly teen aged daughter.

She has always been a thoughtful child, but as she matures, our conversations deepen. It is wonderful to witness and share with her as the world opens up around her. Youth is an amazing thing- the energy, exuberance, and determination combined with optimism are a force that can change the world in wonderful ways. We've always loved to laugh too, but now she can crack me up on a whole different level. We share interests and purses, and soon we'll be able to share shoes too.

Now I'm not saying that teen hormones don't change anything- of course they do. Hormones are a powerful force of nature that we all have to learn to reckon with. But, that's what I think we parents are supposed to guide our kids through- the process of learning to deal with our hormones. I don't think retreating for a few years and leaving them alone to wallow in a pit of teenage angst is the answer.

Granted, I haven't gone through the parenting of a teen yet, so this is purely theory, but it seems like many stages of parenting have their hard parts, and teens get a bad rap. As parents, we love them, and we help guide them through the rough stages, and enjoy the good parts.

While I'm not a fan of the gloom and doom advice, I do love encouraging words of wisdom from parents who have already gone through the teen stage with their kids. How did you keep joyful and connected as your kids transitioned into young adults?