I was looking at my son one afternoon while he was watching tv. I realized suddenly that a few months from now, he will be a TEENAGER. Oh goodness, I am TERRIFIED. Don’t tell anyone!
Older mums tell me that when the children are still young, the stress is physical. So true. However, when they become teenagers, the stress becomes MENTAL. Let’s reminisce the good old days of parenthood from baby to primary-school-age children.
Baby to toddler years:
Most mums looked like zombies (including me) because they were sleep deprived with all the crying and the chronic illnesses of coughs, colds or flu of the children. Those were the days when you can’t think straight.
Photo by Sabine van Straaten
Remember the temper tantrums that will test your patience as a mum? Mums’ ears are so versatile, they can withstand a high pitch scream from a preschooler. Don’t get me started with the running and following your child with hawk eyes like a stalker just to make sure the child is safe. Good luck if you have the chance to sit down and relax!
We LOVE OUR CHILDREN. Hugs, kisses and words like I LOVE YOU MUM were truly appreciated especially if said out of the blue and not just saying sorry.
Kindergarten to Year 6:
The pram and the bag full of diapers, feeding bottles and bibs are out.
It will be the years of FIRST.
First day of school
The child deals with same age children who believe they are entitled to everything
First time to tell you that they cried in school because:
they missed you so much
have an annoying classmate
the everyday routine is gone and change is hard
a lesson is beyond his/her comprehension
they are not good in sports
they are scared
staying at home is better
Physical stress is still there but lessened because they could take care of their personal hygiene. The morning rush of preparing breakfast, putting healthy food on their lunch boxes and taking them to school become a huge part of life to mums or dads. The challenge goes up to the next level when one of the kids gets sick, the school project was forgotten at home or the child doesn’t want to go to school. I am just talking about early morning scenarios!
Photo by Les Anderson
It will be the years of TRIAL AND ERROR in terms of discipline and teaching. What works out with the eldest child may not apply with the second one and so you try other strategies.
The good news about these years is you can go out and have some fun! You can explain when they did something wrong because they could understand better the situation, unlike the toddler years. You can take them anywhere because they still prefer your company and have a blast family bonding. They can help you now with the basic chores like cleaning the house, folding the clothes and preparing the dinner table.
AND NOW… Let us talk about the troublesome Teenage years. (13-19 years old)
Listening to stories of mums raising teenagers is enough to give me a high blood pressure. It is a NAIL-BITING phenomenon every parent has to go through.
Here are some of the worrisome stories on my list:
Talking back and being disrespectful – This is the most common one. Screaming countless swear words at your parents, throwing random things while the parent is reasoning out with you and slamming the door and keeping everyone out because the teenager hates every family member are just examples.
Keeping secrets – The child who reports to you everything becomes secretive in his/her teens. Your teenager has a boyfriend/ girlfriend or going out on a date without you knowing it.
Photo by Kristina Flour
Laziness– Cleaning one’s own bedroom becomes an epic battle between parents and teenagers.
Got pregnant– The adolescent is still childish and is having a child of her own? It is a scenario that will cause deep anguish and sleepless nights.
Photo by Jenna Norman
Got someone pregnant– The teen is still immature and now a father-to-be? Instead of pursuing a career or traveling, a responsibility is at hand.
Drugs- This is one issue that destroys dreams. If the teenager cannot overcome the addiction then it will be a cycle of rehab or even jail.
Depression– Some teenagers are way too competitive either in academics or sports or even both. When they fail, self-esteem gets affected. The feeling of not good enough emerges. They start to shut people out.
Don’t care attitude – Some teenagers don’t care about their studies or what they want to do with their life. Setting a goal is not part of their vocabulary.
Photo by Pablo Varela
All-knowing and too proud– They don’t listen to advice. They think that they already know what’s best for them and their parents’ ideas suck! (quoting a teenager)
Too much alcohol They don’t know when enough is enough.
Addicted to video games/gadgets– They don’t go out of their rooms anymore. Eating together as a family becomes a difficult task. Teenagers become more aggressive and smart-alecks when confronted with too much screen time.
Cyberbullying and bullying at school– There will be schoolmates who will say the most hurtful words, treat you like you don’t exist and post publicly things that may be humiliating on your part. It is quite upsetting when you see it in the news.
Photo by Andrew Neel
Eating disorders– Either the teenager is not eating at all or the teen is eating too much because of insecurities.
Broken hearted -First love was a jerk or a better word – imbecile. The teenager had a difficult time moving on with life.
Studies– The pressure and stress of submitting school requirements may affect the well-being of a teenager.
Choice of friends -The attitude of your teenager changes because of the powerful influence of his/her friends. Your words have no meaning anymore because they rather listen to their friends’ opinion on the matter.
Photo by Toa Heftiba
Rebel- Control- freak parents have a living nightmare when their teenager is against everything they say JUST BECAUSE. Clothes are too revealing or too shabby. The hairstyle is beyond your tolerance.
All sorts of accidents: A teenager can have accidents at home or on the road and performs mischievous thrills trying to impress the crowd which ended up in the hospital.
Photo by Andrew Pons
Just plain stupidity– No matter how much words of wisdom you give, it is not a guarantee that they will not make mistakes. They will learn from their blunders but deep inside your heart, it truly hurts to see them that way.
Bodily changes and mood swings – FIGHTS ERUPT DUE TO temper caused by the monthly menstruation of the daughter and the mood triggered by hot flashes of the mum trying to adapt to menopause. A teenager without proper guidance may end up having STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease).
TIME – They love your company and their world revolves around you when they were younger. It becomes the opposite during teenage years because they rather spend time with their friends. You rarely see them home.
Sorry if I made you anxious.
These are only some of the distressing stories every PARENT OF A TEENAGER may or may not encounter. We do not know yet what will be the new challenges a 21st-century teenager has to deal with! It will test our parenting abilities but as we go along the way, I believe we CAN DO IT.
We can be the best mum or dad for our teenager. I do not know all the answers. I am also learning life’s lessons one day at a time! What are the keywords I could leave you with?
Photo by Nigel Tadyanehondo
For all the parents, carers and guardians out there responsible for teenagers, I am praying for you. May you have more love, wisdom, strength, patience and resilience. Pray for me too because raising three boys is not a piece of cake.