I remember when my kids were little, parents of older kids always warned me about the teenage years. Over and over again they would exclaim with exasperation, “Just wait until they are teens!” I feared the inevitable looming season ahead and anticipated the worst. I kept thinking that the teen years would be when I’d sink from the weight of all the big issues that would erupt, the battles that would ensue, and the complicated tests we would endure. Would my kids turn into raging hormonal monsters? Would our world be turned upside down with erratic behavior and irresponsible choices causing irreparable damage? Would I even survive those years? Or better yet, would my kids?
And here I am with two teens.
It turns out they were all wrong. Dead wrong.
Raising teens is So. Much. Fun.
Sure, teenagers are complicated, messy, unpredictable, irritating, and demanding, but what those parents of older kids didn’t say is how teenagers are creative, hilarious, strong, and brave, too. They have budding dreams, incredible potential, and an entire array of character traits and talents that are forming and evolving at a rapid speed.
And it’s at this point in our parenting that the wonder of it all comes alive.
When our kids are babies, they are tightly packaged, wrapped little gifts. As we raise them through every phase and stage and age, we get to unwrap new layers of who they are and who they’ll grow to be. And it’s during the teenage years where it really gets good.
We’ve accomplished the basics by now, and what’s left to unwrap are the real treasures deep within who they are. It’s these incredible discoveries in our kids that make raising teens the best part of parenting.
Our twirling toddler may bloom into a budding ballerina. Our inquisitive child may grow to be an intellectual genius. Our kid’s personalities take flight and soar on the wings of childhood experiences and we get to see it all revealed with each new step and each new trait that was a tiny seed peeking from the ground of those early days.
Then there are those surprising new dreams, new skills, new interests that sneak in and catch us off guard as our kids discover who they really are, what they really love, and who they want to be, and we get to watch it all transpire.
It’s during these years that the possibilities stretch wider and our baby’s gifts grow deeper in profound ways that often make us catch our breath and marvel at it all. Their bodies change rapidly, while everything else about them grows and transforms too.
Every single day brings markable evidence that this time we have with them is fleeting and our children will soon be adults- with their own lives to live, their own choices to make, their own personalities to embrace, and their own dreams to pursue.
Sure, it’s hard raising teens. It’s filled with a relentless pace of keeping up with their busy schedules and teaching them responsibility along with every other discipline that comes with growing up. It’s exhausting and worrisome and there are a ton of hard-fought battles along the way, but my gosh, it’s exhilarating and exciting too.
Within the terrifying task of slowly letting go, we get to see what they do when we surrender our control and allow them to do life on their own with increasing trust and hopeful assurance. There may be great failure and hard falls, but there is also an awakening to new strengths and important life-lessons learned that can only come from both. It’s these years where the most powerful growth occurs- in us all. And although there are a lot of twists and turns and free-flying falls, it’s a remarkable ride, really.
Yes, it can be so very hard raising teens, but my gosh, you will experience the incomprehensible joy in watching your kids grow up. You get to enjoy your older kids on an entirely new level of relating and they are so much fun to be around.
We have such limited time with our kids safely under our wings, and this last stage is when we teach them how to fly. It takes a ton of patience, a good dose of acceptance, and an exorbitant amount of effort- but this?
THIS is when we get to experience the jaw-dropping, heart-aching, breath-taking, mind-blowing wonder of it all.
So, to any parents who are nearing the infamous “tumultuous teen years” everyone is warning you about…
Trust me on this:
You are heading into the best part of parenting.
Really. I promise.