No matter how smart and kind, creative and fun, responsible and respectful our teens can be, they seem to have a special knack for driving us crazy. Parenting teens can be fun like that. There are times I just shake my head wondering how on earth they come up with their maddening antics, their conflicting comments, and their subtle criticism. I’m often stunned in disbelief or exasperated at their incessant ways of turning everything upside down when I try so hard to keep things right side up.
I’ve learned after having two teens that I can pretty much count on all the paradoxical ways our kids like to live and relate to us parents. I often try to bite my tongue, hold my breath, and not lose my ever-loving mind while hoping at some point things will eventually come back around. Until then, it seems we are all just trying to manage our confused, complicated, and capricious kids as we endure the hard road of parenting during these teen years.
In no particular order, here are ten things our teens do that drive us insane.
1. No matter how many times we remind our teens about doing something, they will almost always forget.
Every time we mention it, they will reprimand us with “I KNOW! I’m on it. You don’t have to remind me all the time.” And yet, when it comes down to it- THEY INEVITABLY FORGET.
And it goes something like this:
Parent: “Did you remember to do that important thing we’ve been talking about for a week? You know, the one thing you told me to stop reminding you about?”
Teen: “Uh, my bad. Sorry, I forgot.”
2. Our teens will tell us that someone shared the most enlightening and transformative thing with them in a recent conversation- as if it was the very first time they heard it.
They will be amazed by this newfound information they’ve received and tell us all about it. We are thrilled to see them learning and growing, and we are so thankful for people who offer good advice to them. But every time this happens, we realize WE HAVE TOLD OUR TEEN THE EXACT SAME THING MULTIPLE TIMES FOR YEARS.
3. When we are talking to our teens, they will easily respond with a one-word confirmation like, “Okay”. But turns out, they didn’t hear what we said. Not. At. All.
And because we know this happens often, we will repeat ourselves numerous times to ensure they received the pertinent information. But we will soon find out THEY MOST CERTAINLY DID NOT.
Here’s how this goes:
We tell our teens multiple times that they have a doctor’s appointment the next day at 1:00.
The next day as we are waiting outside the school to pick them up.
Parent: “Hey honey, are you coming?”
Teen: “Coming where?”
Parent: “TO YOUR DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT.”
Teen: “I don’t think you told me about it.”
Parent: “YES, I DID.”
4. We drive our teens everywhere all.the.time resulting in about 7,845 rides a year. They might thank us which is wonderful, but they will undoubtedly always remember and often recall the ONE TIME WE WERE LATE or FORGOT to pick them up.
We sacrifice much of our lives driving our teens to school, practices, sporting events, competitions, productions, social gatherings, school functions, and everywhere else they want or need to go- and then go back to pick them up too. But our forgetful teens have a steal-trap memory when it comes to that one time we slipped up.
Our texts go something like this:
Parent: “I’m here.”
Teen: “Oh good. I thought you might be late or forgot.”
Parent: “Why on earth would you think that?”
Teen: “Remember that one time…”
5. When our teens mess up or forget things (see #1) or fail to follow through on something (see #3), they will immediately find any possible way to blame it on us.
They will work very hard to defend, explain, or justify any mistake they make because they never want to admit it’s their fault. When they oversleep and they’re now late? “Why didn’t you wake me up!?” When they don’t do their chores? “Well, you didn’t tell me which ones to do!” (We did. See #3) When they can’t find something important? “What did you do with it?”
6. No parent is good at everything, but every parent is great at some things. Our teens might appreciate our strengths, but they will surely highlight where we fall short in their inconspicuous ways.
They love to compare us to other parents and our teens are our toughest critics. You’re not the best cook? While dishing out take-out dinner, you’ll hear, “John’s mom makes the best homemade meals every single day for his family.” Not great at keeping an organized home? While looking for that important paperwork you left somewhere around the house, you’ll hear, “Annie’s house is always so neat and organized.”
7. Our teens are maturing in so many ways, and yet, at unpredictable times, they amaze us with their surprising inability to do some of the most basic life skills.
We try to teach our teens all the important lessons they need to learn in order for them to become successful adults. Many include daily habits like practicing good hygiene, cleaning up after themselves, managing their schedules, keeping organized, developing effective communication skills, upholding their responsibilities, and practicing self-care. We work so hard to cultivate these critical developmental steps as they age. We’ll see flickers of hopeful progress in many of these areas and we celebrate all the improvements. But then our kids reveal something they cannot do or didn’t know and this makes us question how on earth they will ever make it on their own.
8. When we set rules for our teens to help them manage their time or stay safe, they will surely tell us how their friends don’t have to follow the same rules.
Of course, we believe the limits and expectations we create for them are for their own good, but they don’t see it that way. It goes something like this:
Teen: “I don’t see why you won’t let me stay out later. Everyone else can.”
Parent: “Not everyone else has been up since 5:30 and has a big event starting early tomorrow.” Teen: “Julie’s parents always let her stay out late, they don’t care.”
Parent: “Well, you are welcome to go live with Julie if they’ll have you.”
9. Our teens might act like they don’t like us and don’t want to be around us but deep down, they want us to be there for them.
They can be dismissive and angry, irritated and aggravated at just about anything we do or say. Our mere presence can, at times, be intolerable. And yet, when we show up for their games, their performances, their big events, and their celebrations, it means everything to them. They just might not let us know. And no matter how disgruntled they are with us, we are, in fact, the greatest lifeline they have. Even when they are pushing us away, they still desperately need our peripheral presence and our consistent attempts at connection.
10. Our teens might tell us they don’t want our opinion and don’t care if we understand them, but the truth is, they care more than they’ll ever admit.
Our teens will ignore us, criticize us, or avoid us. They might think we are old and outdated, ignorant and weird. They might say we are too demanding, embarrassing, and ridiculous. They tell us they don’t care about our opinions. But the paradoxical truth is: Deep down, our teens need our love and support, our affirmation and understanding. They desperately want our approval and confidence in who they are growing up to be.
So, no matter how much they drive us insane, we’ll keep investing our time and energy in them, and remain deeply devoted to loving our crazy teens the best we possibly can.