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For Any Parent, Hard Work Pays Off When Bringing Up Teenagers

I’m the parent of two young men. Sam is 20 and Zach is 18, even though in my head they are still playing with Legos and going to sleep earlier than me. But the calendar tells me they are no longer children. They are adults—young men. And I gotta tell you, it’s a great place to parent. I mean, the issues are absolutely tougher—and bigger—and more expensive (car insurance, anyone?), but the perks are incredible.

Raising My Sons

Let me illustrate an example: Sam is a sophomore at a local community college, where he also works in the Office of Admissions. Zach will be headed there next fall as a freshman, so we took a tour of the campus. Since Sam is a tour guide, we made sure we were in his group.

While Sam led parents and potential students around the campus, I found myself paying less attention to the school’s terrific amenities and instead, focusing on Sam. He was an excellent guide—interesting, funny and full of extra tidbits like the campus police are always available to escort you to your car upon request. I looked at Sam with a whole new respect that day. He takes his job seriously, and strives to do a bang-up job. He has led many tours, but his delivery remains high energy and he did a wonderful job of asking people questions so he could tailor the talk in a relevant fashion.

Parenting Is Hard Work, But It Is Rewarding

Now I would never take full credit for Sam’s winsome personality. I do believe that it takes an entire village to raise a kid and I praise and salute all of those devoted folks who helped me out. Believe me, as a parent, I know that raising teenagers is hard work. But I can’t help but take some pride in the outcome. As I flash back through all of his years, I remember all the time we spent together: reading, drawing, talking, exploring, experiencing. I know Sam was born with his nature, his brain, and his heart. But along with our village, I think that I helped him fine-tune all that. And now he’s here in the world at 20—working, studying, and commuting, a caring boyfriend and a loving son.

It’s hard to believe we are here, but I am so glad we are. He needs me less and less, which tells me he has launched. And while my job as mom is never done, I think the heavy lifting might be.

Renee Brown

Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.