By Elizabeth Spencer
So now you’re the parent of a teenager. Congratulations! Some assembly is required, so please take note of the following steps, which will ensure that your teen provides you with enjoyment and satisfaction for many years to come. Tools required: love, patience, wisdom, a sense of humor, and nerves of steel.
How to Parent Teens
1. Realize with shock, awe, and amazement that the baby who turned one “yesterday” is now an age that ends in “-teen.”
2. Take a deep breath.
3. Start paying a lot more attention to your friends who have teenagers.
4. Put a hold on every book your local library has on parenting teenagers. Also on “how to find college scholarships without having to quit your day job” and “easy recipes for high-protein, high-fiber dinners that don’t taste like they’re high-protein, high-fiber and that can be eaten at any point between 3 and 11 p.m.—in the car with a spork leftover from the drive-thru, if necessary.”
5. Find a supportive online tribe.
6. Bite your tongue.
7. Wait for the game/match/meet/tournament to start.
8. Wait for the game/match/meet/tournament to end.
9. Buy more food. More milk. And more cereal. More bananas. Just…more.
10. Ask around about driver’s training schedules and where to buy homecoming dresses and when you’re supposed to fill out the FAFSA and whether AP classes are worth it.
It’s So Easy!
11. Wait for your athlete/musician/student to be ready to be picked up.
12. Wait for your athlete/musician/student to text to say that they’re ready to be picked up.
13. Take another deep breath.
14. Realize with shock, awe, and amazement that somewhere along the line, your baby has learned how to dribble a soccer ball or do a pirouette or speak Spanish or play the euphonium or give a speech or understand trigonometry.
18. Figure out what that smell is.
19. Blame the hormones.
20. Think that SOMEONE needs to write teen versions of a few children’s literary classics: Alexander Is 13 So Every Day Is a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, maybe, or Are You My Mother—And Can You Pretend You’re Not When We’re Out in Public? See also, Love You Forever (Even Though I’m Not Entirely Certain How Much I Actually Like You Right Now).
Some Assembly Required
21. Worry some more.
22. Laugh a lot.
23. Cry again.
24. Let go.
25. Hold on.
26. Do love: tough, unconditional, and otherwise.
27. Call your mom and thank her for putting up with you when you were teenager.
28. Remind yourself 10 times a day that the teenage brain is not fully cooked.
29. Remind yourself 10 times a day that your teenager probably isn’t enjoying her mood swings any more than you are.
31. Look back.
32. Look forward.
33. Watch the baby you buckled into a car seat “yesterday” get behind the wheel of a vehicle in which you are now a passenger. Wonder, fleetingly, if they actually know what they’re doing.
34. Get a “marching band mom” or “lacrosse mom” or “robotics club mom” bumper sticker for the car your new driver just got behind the wheel of.
36. Realize with shock, awe, and amazement that the tall, gorgeous young man or woman just saw across the room is your tall, gorgeous child.
37. Remember how “yesterday”, when your teenager was a baby, you thought you couldn’t possibly love him more than you did then. Understand now that you were wrong about that. Because you do.
Elizabeth Spencer is mom to two teenage daughters who regularly dispense affection and brutally honest fashion advice. She writes about faith, food, and family (with some occasional funny thrown in) at Guilty Chocoholic Mama and avoids working on her 100-year-old farmhouse by spending time on Facebook and Twitter.