Behind Every Teenager Is His or Her Exhausted Parents
By Christine Carter
Parenting is exhausting no matter the age of our kids. But parenting teens can take us to an all-time level of pure, relentless fatigue.
Exhausted parents raising teenagers
Parents of teens are bone-tired, both mentally and physically, and here’s why:
Parents of teens worry about everything: We worry about their grades, their choices, their friends, their feelings, their future, and what they are doing on that darn phone. We are in a constant state of trepidation while wandering this tough terrain just hoping we get a few things right.
Parents are concerned about their teen’s academics and what happens at school: What really goes on in those classes, those halls, those cafeterias, those bathrooms, every day, all day? Do we put too much pressure on our teens? Are they taking the right curriculum? Did they obtain a high enough ACT and SAT score? Do they have enough college options and future career choices? But most of all, we worry about the worry we see in our teens when they talk about it all.
Parents stress about those unpredictable experiences that could happen to any teen at any time: We worry our kid will get in a car accident, try some new drug, fall prey to bullying. Or pick the wrong friends or get mixed up with the wrong guy/girl, become a victim of sexual assault. Or make a dangerous, daring, destructive mistake. We worry when our teen is out of sight, out of our control, away from our supervision. Trusting in the unknown can be terrifying.
“Am i parenting right?”
Parents are constantly wondering if we’re doing it right: Are we too enabling? Too controlling? Are my expectations too high? Too low? Are we preparing the kids to be independent? Teaching them all they need to know to become a responsible adult? Should we be more flexible or more stringent? What if they do it wrong? Is what they’re doing enough?
Parents of teens go at a relentless non-stop pace: Until your kid is driving, parents will spend the majority of their waking hours in the car. We drive teens to work, to school, to practice, to events, to social gatherings, to youth group. We drive to every single location they need to go, and then back again. It’s not just the demands of all the rides that drain parents. It’s the timing of all those early morning trips and the late-night pickups that make for long days and little sleep.
Parents of teens want to show up: Many teens are involved in a slew of activities, and we want to be present. If our child is in sports, theater, band, clubs, or any other activity that requires attendance regularly, you’ll find these tired parents of teens there.
And All that laundry
And we want to keep some semblance of sanity at home: Have a house with a teen? It’s most likely full of scattered messes and explosive moods. As much as we try to teach our kids to pick up after themselves and do their chores, it’s inevitable—they often leave trails of their belongings everywhere. Parents are constantly picking up after their teens. We need to get around their home and don’t want to slip on that bag or trip over those shoes to do so.
Then there are the massive mounds of laundry that never ends, full of dirty uniforms and stinky socks, along with the latest trending clothes. If our teens do laundry themselves, then the mounds become molding mountains. Parents can be found sorting through the piles late at night in a desperate attempt to salvage what they can.
Don’t forget the grocery shopping to feed a teen’s relentless appetite. Keeping the meals coming, the pantries full, the lunches packed and the after-school and late-night hunger satisfied. All this eating can easily consume the most organized parent.
The most exhausting component of raising teenagers, though: Trying to communicate with them. Parents tread carefully when talking with their teen. We’re cautious of their unpredictable moods. Wondering if each conversation will go off the rails can be tiresome. We have no idea if our teens are actually listening—and often they’re not—so we repeat ourselves regularly.
There are sensitive subjects we are cautious to approach, issues that arise that are difficult to discuss, confrontations and conflicts we hope to resolve. And the consequences we set that can erupt into a battle.
Most of all, we want our teens to talk to us, to share what is going on with them. Attempting to cultivate those conversations demands a lot of hard work.
So, we’re tired.
We’re tired because this road is bumpy, this ride is hard, and we all know that parenting our teens is the most important purpose in our lives. We only have a few short years left to launch our kids out into the world, and there’s so much we must do.
And it takes every ounce of energy to try and do it right.