Teenagers. One day your 12-year-old is a sunny, open, happy-go-lucky joy to be around who thinks you are perfect. Then suddenly, that same child becomes a sulky brooding riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma who makes you question everything you thought you knew about parenting.
We, the editorial staffers at Your Teen, know about teenagers. We think about raising teenagers all day, every day. So we asked ourselves this question: What do we know for sure about teenagers? They remain a mystery, but when it comes to raising teenagers, we know these things for sure.
20 Things We Know For Sure About Raising Teenagers
1. They watch and listen to everything you do.
You were their first hero and you’re still their role model, and even though they seem like they’re in their own world now, they still watch you like a hawk. They may forget their lunches, homework or soccer cleats, but they will never forget the time you accidentally dropped an “f bomb” or cut someone off in traffic, or failed to live up to your family’s values.
2. They want and need limits.
Sometimes saying no means you care, and deep down they know it.
3. They will make you so angry you won’t recognize yourself.
When someone you love so much can make you so, so angry that you can’t see straight, it can be scary. For everyone.
4. They recognize hypocrisy when they see it.
They aren’t old enough yet to rationalize white lies and they’re still young enough to believe in idealism and brutal honesty. Boy, can that be uncomfortable.
5. They want your undivided attention.
They might not ask for your attention like they used to (Remember “Mom? Mom? Mom?”), but they still want to know that when they finally talk to you, you are listening. Be present, lest they find ways of demanding your attention.
6. They don’t want you on your phone all the time either.
We all love our phones too much. Set the example with your own technology use.
7. They go to bed late.
They aren’t being difficult or trying to annoy you—it’s those circadian rhythms.
8. You will only be as happy as your saddest child.
The hardest part of parenting is the hurt you feel when your teen is sad, disappointed, unpopular, or heartbroken.
9. They are going to leave stuff everywhere, especially backpacks and dirty socks.
It doesn’t matter how many times you remind, nag, yell. It is just an immutable fact.
10. They are going to dent your car.
Even the best drivers are going to get into some kind of scrape. Accept it before they even get their learner’s permit and maybe you will be less aggravated when it happens. Because it will.
11. They will make mistakes.
They’re learning every day. Some may be bigger mistakes than others, but they’re trying to become adults and being an adult is hard, especially when you don’t have any experience.
12. “I’ll do it in a minute” really means “I’m not going to do that.”
Yeah, and that’s exactly why it bugs us so much, right?
13. You will say things to them that your mother and father said to you.
They said it to you, and now it’s your turn to say it to your teens. And one day our kids—in their flying cars—will still say, “Don’t make me stop this car and come back there!” to THEIR kids.
14. You will say “You’re not wearing that.”
You might not care what other people’s teens wear, but one day when you see it on your 14-year-old, you will suddenly care very much.
15. One day they think you are perfect, the next day you are the worst ever.
It hurts. But this, too, shall pass and you will both get through adolescence together.
16. They will forget what they did to make you angry long before you do.
And when you finally do forget, your next teenager will do it!
17. They won’t like you sometimes.
Just remember: if your kids always loved you, they would call you Grandma instead of Mom.
18. Sometimes they wish they were little again, too.
19. They are more capable than you think.
It’s remarkable what teens can achieve when we adults get out of the way and let them.
20. They will constantly amaze you.
Watching your child become an adult right before your eyes is a wondrous experience. We wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.