I Was Wrong, It Doesn’t Get Easier

When our kids were toddlers mid-tantrum, parents would walk by and warn, “Just wait until they are teenagers! You’ll wish for these problems!”

I was left assuming they’d turn into hormonal mutants who skipped school and snuck out to parties. I thought we’d be constantly disciplining these misbehaving beasts at every turn. 

Imagine my surprise that (for the most part) we really love being around our teens. I count it among my life’s biggest blessings that my kids are pretty amazing. Sure, there’s time for them to start sneaking out and start some major trouble, but right now (knock on wood) they’ve yet to unravel into unruliness. 

But dang, friends. 

So. Much. Worry.

There are moments I wish I could trade the worry I feel as a mom of teens for a tantrum on the dirty grocery store floor. To be clear, this has nothing to do with their behavior. I’m finding parenting at this stage so hard because there is so much to worry about. 

Give me a diaper blowout over the call that my new driver has a flat tire on a busy highway. I’ll take a baby who refuses to nap over watching a teen carry an impossibly hard workload at school. 

When they were little, I knew EVERYTHING about their lives. I knew their friends and their parents from the preschool pickup line. The sports they played were more for comedy than achievement. Don’t get me wrong, I do love this age but there are moments the worry I feel is downright overwhelming. 

When they struggle, I struggle. Hard. 

This Isn’t Our Journey

My good friend, Dr. Hope Seidel, is a pediatrician and parenting coach. It rocked me when she told me, “Just because your kids have a bad day, doesn’t mean you should.” It felt like someone knocked the wind out of me. You’re telling me you can recognize and support your kid through a tough time and NOT internalize it? I didn’t know that was an option. 

I sat next to a wonderful mom at a sports event last week. She smiled calmly as she talked about her child struggling in school. We’re at the point in parenting when everything feels very, “on the record.” Earning a C or D in multiple classes could limit college options and, I admit, would send me spiraling. 

This level-headed mom took a deep breath and said, “This is their journey. Not mine. We try to support our child, but it’s their life. They will figure it out.” She really, really believed it too. She wasn’t putting on a show to rationalize her child’s academic struggles. She was a living, breathing example of what Dr. Hope Seidel preaches: Our kids are their own people. 

All The Help I Can Get

I will strive for this type of calm confidence. My rational brain knows that the struggles we endure in our teens build the resilience we need as adults. I know this. Worrying won’t solve my child’s problems. I know this. So why is this stage so hard? 

I was talking to a friend who has grown children. They are in their 20s living on their own. I said, “It must be a relief to be done with the extreme worry that comes with the teen phase.” She threw her head back in a cackle. She started hiccuping because she was laughing so hard. Then she told me the devastating news: 

Apparently, parenting adult children is just as stressful. (Who was going to warn me?)

Tell me the best parenting advice you’ve been given. I need all the help I can get. Thanks for indulging me here. 

Xo, Kim