Detour: Parenting Teenagers

Photo credit: demandaj / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I know that a good amount of the parents that read this blog have younger kids. Kids that are enjoying ChoreMonster and parents that are happy to have some additional organization and peace in their homes. It’s really amazing and that will continue to be what you see here on a regular basis. But today, I’m taking a small detour into the world of parenting teenagers, because I have two teenage boys in my house right now and well, it’s a learning experience every day.

The Stress Tradeoff

I read somewhere that parenting stresses when you have small children are mostly physical. With smaller kids you often have to either constantly keep your eye on them or physically carry them around on a regular basis. You also sacrifice sleep on many nights with babies and toddlers and well, lots of pre-teen kids. The older your kids get, the less you have to worry about those things, and the more you have a new set of worries to deal with.

Is your teenager coming home tonight like they said they would? Are they doing drugs, having sex or are the trials of adolescents so much of a burden on them that they are depressed or emotionally unstable? I know, some of that might sound a bit extreme, but you’d be surprised how quickly things can change when kids enter that stage of life. So you basically trade the physical stress for emotional and mental stresses.

Technology Is Our Friend?

I’m getting closer and closer to age 40 and while I was growing up, the internet was just beginning to bloom. We started to be able to jump online and connect with others and it was a new world for us all. Of course, our kids now can’t even imagine a world without their devices and instant access to Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Long gone are the days of talking on the phone late into the evening, traded out for a long night of texting, trading pictures and whatever else.

As a huge proponent of technology and all that it brings, I should embrace and encourage this stuff, right? Well, I do, until I see it in action. Teenagers are dumb, and they make most of their dumb decisions using their cell phone and the internet. So, as a parent of teenagers, how much do we let them fail and make these dumb decisions and how much do we stop them in their tracks and try and teach them a lesson? I know, we all did dumb stuff at that age, and we learned at some point the error of our ways, but what is our role when it’s spelled out right in front of us?

There isn’t an easy answer and I’m not here today to tell you what you should do. I also don’t want to assume that your teenager is dumb. I guess I’m just writing to tell you that this stage of parenting is the toughest stage I have had to deal with. I want to let my kids be independent and become who they want to become, but at the same time I want to help them learn hard lessons as easily as possible.

To be clear…

Of course, not all teens are the same and some, quite frankly, are awesome examples of maturity. I also just have personal experience with boys, and we all know that teen girls bring a different set of challenges. What I do know is that this stage of parenting is much more challenging than most that haven’t been through it yet will have you believe, so if you are in the midst of it, I offer you sympathy and hope for peace, and if you are going to embark on it, well, buckle up.

I’ll also stress that whatever you are dealing with as a parent, others have been through it and have had it worse. So tap into friends and family for advice and occasional venting, it might get you through things a bit easier.

If you are parenting teenagers, how’s it going and what methods have been effective for you in dealing with some of the stress that goes along with it?

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